21 day Best of Europe-DAY 8 Venice!
We were so excited to get to Italy....we had one rest stop (which was actually a McDonalds) before exiting Austria then stopped for lunch in Egna, a small town in the south Tyrol of Northern Italy. Colleen had arranged this luncheon ahead of time. Egna was a very cute town and after lunch we had some time to roam around and finish our gelato.
Our visit in Egna was so enjoyable...and we had full tummies now so onward to Venice! We had quiet time on the bus as Colleen had already gone over our Italian language lesson on the bus before we arrived in Egna. Later in the drive Colleen talked about Venice and how Ben would be dropping us off at the Tronchetto where we would be catching the Vaporetti to our stop in Venice. The day before Colleen reminded us that we could combine some of our luggage and take a smallish bag for our 2 days in Venice (and leave the bulk of our belongings on the bus). This was great advice as Venice has many people walking around and trying to maneuver rolling suitcases around the crowds can prove to be challenging. Our stop was the Rialto stop and from there we walked a few blocks to our hotel. After checking in we dropped off our things in our rooms (then proceeded to open the windows and stick our heads out, looking for our neighbors to do the same). We met in front of the hotel for a walking tour with Colleen then headed to our group dinner. It was raining enough to be aggravating, thus ruining our chances of taking gondolla rides that evening but it didn't matter.....we were in Venice! After dinner Colleen showed a few of us her favorite place on the Piazza San Marco for drinks, Cafe Lavena....and we spent some time there before heading back to the hotel for the night.
21 day Best of Europe-DAY 9, still Venice, walking tour, Basilica San Marco, and free afternoon/evening.
Today we started on our walking tour with Elisabetta (sp?). The respect and love our tour guides have for Elisabetta (local guide) is apparent. Tour guides know lots of stuff but local guides give us the local flavor of a city/museum and we have fantastic ones on this tour! We got up a little early this morning so we could check out the area while the locals were heading to work. The square was pretty empty!
We started our walking tour with our local guide after a lovely breakfast buffet at our hotel (and after our own little walking tour on our own). Elisabetta took us through the "streets" of Venice for almost 3 hours. Our tour included a mask-making event which was tons of fun and made for some humorous moments with Dave as our model. At the end of our walking tour we had to say goodbye to Trish as she had to get started with her own tour. It was an emotional goodbye as Colleen and Trish were such a great duo!
Venice has been more beautiful than I ever expected! After our mask making demo we ended our walking tour with Elisabetta at St Mark's Basilica. The church was so golden! I also knew that the original horses were located upstairs in the church so that is something I wanted to see, too.
After visiting St Mark's Basilica we were on our own for the rest of the day. We knew we wanted to attend a concert at one of the churches later tonight and Judy, another tour mate expressed interest in attending with us. We wanted to figure out exactly where that concert was going to be taking place so we set off with Vickie and Tom and went on a walking tour of our own. Colleen advised us to "get lost" while in Venice....and we did, but quickly found our way back. Posted in several corners on the buildings are signs to point you towards Rialto, San Marco, and Accademia. If you hit water, turn around and go the other way! We had lunch at a pizza place and found the church we were looking for. It was a fun day of meandering. Tired and a little damp from the rain, we made our way back to our hotel where we rested until time to go to the concert!
The concert was fabulous but we were very tired afterwards! We had a long day and as most nights, fell asleep immediately upon laying down our head! Tomorrow we travel to Florence but before we do, we will venture out early in the morning to see the Farmers and Fisherman's Market!
21 day Best of Europe-DAY 10 Venice still
Enjoying the early morning in Venice!