Tuesday, July 17, 2007

THE END IS IN SIGHT, Part 5- Featuring "Venice & Tuscany"

Well for those that are still anticipating the ending to our European adventures, here is the second last post of the finale. And I will warn you, this is a LONG post with LOTS of pictures.

As I mentioned previously, Dubrovnik was our final stop on the cruise. We sailed back to Venice and disembarked the ship --- which was a really nice feeling. I enjoyed the cruise part of the trip but started to feel a bit "trapped" by the end of it and was ready to "hotel it" for the last few days.

Anyway...we got to Venice in the early afternoon and rather than sit around waiting for the rest of the Shade-o-matic group, Jon and I, along with our friends Joe and Patti (a couple we met on the trip) caught a taxi to one of the Grand Canal sea taxi stations. We then sailed up the Grand Canal to the main attraction--- San Marco Square. By this time we were ravenous with hunger and stopped for lunch in a cute little alley way pizzeria. The food was delicious but really pricey! As were most places in Europe.

San Marco Square

Here we are having lunch --- it was Jon's 25th birthday during our day in Venice! (L-R: Jon, Patti & Joe... Patti & Joe are from Summerland, BC and are engaged to be married this year -- we just love them! Such a cool couple!! Even though they were almost old enough to be our grandparents, we felt more like old friends!)

Venice was an incredibly beautiful city but also a bit confusing. Every alley looks the same and it would have been easy to get lost if we hadn't paid close attention to landmarks. And I must say, the rumors about Venice being smelly weren't all that true. Some of the back allies smelled a bit but overall, the Grand Canal wasn't that pungent.

San Marco Basilica

The yellow building above was actually a Best Western hotel. Hard to believe, hey!? It was the most attractive Best Western I've ever seen.

As the afternoon wore on, the San Marco Square started to flood.... literally. We were a little concerned about the rising water but apparently its normal. As the tide comes in, the city floods a bit. It was crazy watching the water come up through little holes in the ground. Here is Jon showing his concern :)

The "splurge" of our trip was a gondola ride and I am SO glad we did it. You just can't go to Venice and not take a romantic gondola ride down the Grand Canal. Even though we were with Joe and Patti, it was a really neat experience (though it probably would have been more romantic for both couples if we had done it on our own). Gondola's are quite expensive (approx. $160 CAN for a 1/2 hr. ride) but so worth the experience!

The very famous Rialto Bridge

The next day, we left Venice and took a bus tour through Tuscany. The Shade-o-matic group had planned a special "event" as their final thank-you to everyone. The "event" was, stopping for an authentic Italian lunch in an old Tuscan castle, complete with an afternoon of wine tasting. I had really been looking forward to this part of the trip, as I've always dreamed of seeing the Tuscan countryside, but I have to admit that it ended up being a bit of a disappointment. Now before you go thinking I am complaining about something so wonderful, let me explain. The only thing "bad" about this little "event" is that nobody put a time limit on it and instead of stopping for the originally planned 2 hour visit, we ended up being there for the ENTIRE day. Now this would be fine except that we were on route for Rome. As it was, we were only going to have one full day in Rome (which is NOT even close to being enough time to see everything) so Jon and I were really looking forward to arriving in Rome, late afternoon, in hopes of seeing at least a few things that day. That way our last day in Rome wouldn't be too rushed. But instead of getting to Rome between 4-5pm... we got there at about 10:45pm, leaving just enough time to eat something and go to bed. So, although the afternoon in the Tuscan countryside was absolutely beautiful and worthwhile, we just wish it had been a bit shorter. I mean really... how many glasses of wine can one handle when having to sit on a bus for 3 more hours :) Anyway...here are some pictures of our afternoon in Tuscany... which was indeed, breathtaking...

Next stop was Rome --- our final destination. More to come...


Jamie said...

That looks amazing :)

Congrats on the new home by the way! That's really exciting!

crazycows said...

Your pictures are certainly surreal. It is hard to believe you guys were there, an out of this world(N.A.) experience. I hope to see the whole slideshow at your place soon!

Hailey said...

My goodness! So lovely! Bonnie I'm going to need Europe tips from you! You guys went everywhere! So pretty! :)