Venice here we come

We woke up at 6:30 to a beautiful sunny day … luggage out by 7:30 … on the road at 8:00 for our three hour drive to the city of 118 islands and 400+ bridges with not a single road to its name. Now home to a quarter million+  people but once the epicenter of an empire that oversaw the entire Adriatic and major trade routes to the Middle East. Not bad for a city compressed into a whopping four square miles and built in/on silt.

Just in case I have piqued your interest in the nuances of border crossings, I’ll mention we did not have to stop at the Italian boarder. We drove on toll roads for the most part that were not hurting for truck traffic. The drive took us through beautiful green countryside with villages, farms, fields, and a little livestock in the distance. We saw lots of evidence of the worst natural disaster to hit Slovenia in the last 100 years … last hear’s ice storm. Forty percent of the forest was destroyed leaving huge, dark blemishes in the massive patches of green in the distance. We drove by the first Lipizzaner stud farm that dates back to 1580. A field of sunflowers in full bloom provided a huge pop of color in the sea of green. There were lots of poplar groves visible from the road which are harvested for use in the paper industry.

In Italy we passed near the battlefield where Ernest Hemingway was an ambulance driver in World War I (think A Farewell to Arms, his first best seller). Visible from the road was a huge, white memorial where 100,000 of the 300,000 soldiers were buried after a protracted period of trench warfare. The pope officiated at a special commemorative mass at this memorial last year to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI.

Our last potty stop was at a truck stop that had an ingenious procedure for admission to the toilets. If you bought anything (a coffee or a snack) you got a receipt that gained you admission to the toilet through a special door. If no purchase was made, you put € 0.50 in a machine, got a receipt, and then went through a turnstile to access the toilets. If you decided, on second thought, you needed to make a purchase, you showed your receipt and got € 0.50 off the total price. Forethought is key obviously.

Anyway, upon arriving in Venice we went (water taxi) straight to a Murano glass factory for a demonstration in the workroom. In record time a craftsman created two things: a vase and a horse. Impressive! Murano glass is world famous, beautiful, and made by hand in the old way. We also had a nice walking tour with a local guide who took us off the major tourist paths as well as inside Saint Mark’s Basilica with its 75,000 square feet of gold leaf mosaics. Saint Mark’s is a stunner both inside and out! We stopped in front of the building where George Clooney got married and learned that people rented windows with a good view of any part of the proceedings for $1,000 each. Far more important for the educators in our group was a plaque commemorating the first woman ever, an Italian, to earn a philosophy doctorate which she managed in 1678, a mere 70 years after the first woman ever, a Spaniard, to earn a college degree. You go girls!

We said goodbye to our Croatian driver, Mirko, earlier today and had a farewell dinner tonight in the hotel as a group of eight plus our amazing guide and trip logistician, Jasmina. Dinner was on a large, open air veranda with an amazing Murano glass water fountain. Our four course meal was delicious and since the evening temperature was perfect, the roof was retracted for us. It’s hard to believe we’ve been on the road for two full weeks and head home tomorrow morning. It has been a fantastic trip that exceeded our already high expectations.


3 thoughts on “Venice here we come

  1. And your blog exceeded our high expectations! What a privilege to arm-chair travel with you! Amazing trip and pictures! Thank you!


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