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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Our first day trip - Venice

Dear Family and Friends,

The first day trip we took out of Verona was to Venice. Venice is about an hour away by train. 

The amazing thing is that when you walk out the front of the train station....there you are.  Yep, this is Venice, no doubt.

The green domed building across from us is the Church of San Simeone Piccolo.  This is the first glimpse of Venice most visitors get.

We were amazed and overwhelmed by the scenery and the number of people.  

After we walked and dodged folks a bit, we ducked into a coffee stop that had a quiet patio in the back.  It was very serene and good to get out of the crowd for a bit.

This man was the only other person on the patio. I am guessing he is a local enjoying his morning paper and coffee out of the crowd of tourists.  We were lucky to find this quiet spot.

We walked a bit and enjoyed the scenery before taking a water taxi to St. Mark's Square on the other side of Venice.

The sights from the water taxi were great.  Here are a few.

A ship was docked at a pier. I don't know if it is always there or not.  Fun to see the tall masts.

The buildings were fun to see.  Maybe a hotel?

This church is Santa Maria del Rosario, which means St Maria of the Rosary.   

This church is Santo Stefano (St. Stephen).  It was founded in the 13th century.

And, finally we could see the prominent San Marco Campanile (bell tower of St. Mark's Basilica) from a distance. 

When we got off the water taxi we walked, shopped and had lunch.

There were many shops containing Murano glass.  Murano glass is made on the Venetian island of Murano, which has been a glassmaking center for over 700 years.  If we were there for more than just a day trip we would have gone to the island for a visit to the glass factory.

Masks, of course, are very popular.  There were many types to pick from.

Here is Chuck in front of the St. Zaccaria Church, across from the restaurant where we had lunch.

After lunch we walked toward St. Mark's Square enjoying the canals and gondolas with tourists.

We finally made it to the big attraction.  St. Mark's Square was more than crowded, it was packed.  

St. Mark's Basilica is the most popular attraction in Venice.  The bell tower was casting a shadow on the entrance. 

Here is a closer look at the beautiful entrance.

Nearby is the Torre del'Orologio (St. Mark's clock tower)

This is Doge's (King's) Palace.  Another very famous and visited building in Venice.  It is now a museum.

In front of the palace were gondolas parked in their slips.

From a church bell tower across the Grand Canal, Chuck took these great vista photos of Venice.

We took the water taxi back to the train station and returned to Verona after a wonderful quick trip to Venice.  


Monday, November 19, 2018

Verona, Italy - Our temporary home

Dear Family and Friends,

We arrived in Verona in the early evening.  After we got a taxi at the train station, found our apartment and got settled in, we were all exhausted.  

After a good nights sleep, we went out to explore our surroundings in daylight.  Our apartment was in a perfect location in the old part of the city.  Our first place to visit was a short walk to Piazza Bra, the biggest and main plaza in Verona.  

The plaza was huge.  It contained a large park in the middle and at one end was the well preserved, Roman amphitheater. It was built in 290AD and is in use today, home of the Verona Opera Festival, one of Europe's major summer music events. 

Along the side of the plaza were restaurants that provide wonderful outdoor dining.  

We chose a restaurant and enjoyed our first meal in Italy.  This is a photo of Audrey's pizza topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella and arugula.  By the way, we learned that the buffalo mozzarella is really made from water buffalo milk.

That afternoon, we made out way to a local supermarket to get supplies.  

This is Audrey and Jim passing in front of Porta Bosari, an ancient Roman gate.  It was located just outside our apartment and we passed by or through it on a daily basis.

We completed the first day by taking the Hop on, Hop off bus tour of the city.  A good way to get oriented.

During the time we were in Verona, we used it to take several day trips to other places.  We picked Verona because it is a train hub for that part of northern Italy and made taking these trips very convenient. I will share about our day trips in other posts.

For this post I am sharing some of the things we saw during our time in Verona.

One day Chuck and I walked to Castelvecchio, the old castle.  It was built in 1354-55 as a defense fortress.  It is located on the Adige river, which separates old and new Verona.

Behind the castle is Ponte Scaligero, a 14th century bridge. Today, it is only used as a pedestrian bridge. As we walked over it we got great views of the river and city.

Next to the old castle is the Arco del Gavi, an old Roman arch. This first century arch once spanned a road, but has since been moved to its present location.

Another favorite and frequently visited plaza was Piazza delle Erbe.  It is several blocks in length and contains a vegetable market, tourist shopping market and also lined with restaurants featuring outdoor seating.

One day Chuck and I had lunch at one of the restaurants featuring some strange typical Verona offerings.

Chuck chose his meal from the horse and donkey specialties.   He chose donkey stew which was served over pasta.

Lucky for me, they offered many other things on the menu.

Verona is perhaps best known internationally as the setting for Shakespeare's famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.  

Because so many visitors to Verona wanted to know where Juliet lived, the city decided to build a balcony in a courtyard just off Piazza delle Erbe.  

It seems odd to me that most of the tourism in Verona is to a site that never really existed.  Tourists were always there in such numbers that Chuck and I waited until sundown one evening so we could get a glimpse.

The balcony, we were told, is an old sarcophagus. In the courtyard under the balcony is a bronze statue of Juliet.   

The wall beside her is filled with letters to her.

Even though Romeo and Juliet never existed, people flock to see a made up courtyard. We were told that Verona hires a team of secretaries to answer these letters. Why not?  The tourists bring a lot of revenue into the city.

We really loved Verona.  It is a beautiful city with many wonderful things to see.  

The next posts will be about our day trips out of Verona.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

ITALY - Getting There

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I returned from our month long trip to Italy the first of November.  We spent two weeks enjoying northern Italy and then spent 12 days cruising the Adriatic Sea on Holland America. 

We flew from Quito direct to Amsterdam and then from Amsterdam to Milan.  It was much easier and cheaper for us than flying through the U.S.

When we arrived in Milan we took a train on to Verona, our home for the next two weeks.

We traveled with Chuck's sister, Audrey and her husband, Jim.  They are great travel buddies, they love exploring as much as we do.  

Our plans were to meet them at our apartment that we rented in Verona.  We expected to arrive there about an hour after they did.  

Audrey and Jim flew from the U.S. to Paris, spent the night and then went by rail to Verona.

After we arrived in Milan, we took a train to the main train station in Milan.  We missed the our train to Verona because we were busy figuring out where to go and what to do.  Luckily the trains come often and we got the next one (about a 40 minute wait).

We boarded our train car and started to put our luggage away when I heard my name being called.  I looked up and there was Audrey and Jim.  We were all surprised to see each other.  They were not supposed to be on this train and neither were we.  What are the odds that we would end up on the exact same train and even more, the same car.

Our adventure had begun...

In my future posts I will share with you about Verona, and about our day trips to other cities in northern Italy.  Then I will share about our cruise.  


Friday, November 16, 2018

FOTO FRIDAY - 11/16/18

This Friday photo was made back in 2002 on a camping trip that Chuck and I took to McCall Idaho.

Overlooking Lake Payette.  Idaho is a beautiful state.

Friday, November 9, 2018

FOTO FRIDAY - 11/09/18

Dear Family and Friends,

This photo was taken about 1982.  Kylie and Michael,  our two youngest children, playing in the watermelons at the Farmers Market in Columbus, Georgia.