Was up early again today and ready for Day 2 of Venice. Had time for a quick breakfast before taking my now daily walk to the train station. Nice to be in some sort of regular routine, but miss sleeping in and gently starting my day.
Left again at the same time for Venice as yesterday and found myself more comfortable as I left the train and walked through the Venice station. I went outside of the station to see if my Day 2 experience of being in Venice was any different than Day 1. It was, but only slightly. Still in awe of the city.
My main goal was to visit Murano again, do a glass factory tour and maybe purchase a small gift to send back to Oregon from the factory. Also to tour the glass museum while I’m there. At 3:30 I had scheduled a boat tour of the Grand Canal.
After buying a bottle of water, I caught the first taxi to Murano. There are a few options, but I took the first boat to leave the dock. Met a couple from Pennsylvania while waiting in line and we visited before the boat arrived. Soon we were underway and headed straight for Murano (Got lucky because some of the taxi routes stop at several places before you land at the spot where you want to be.) I walked to where the place for the factory tour and waited in line. Turns out if really wasn’t much of a tour, more like a demonstration, but it was free. Think the purpose of the free demonstration was to get people to buy, in the stop next door, the glass decorations they were making. We saw the glass artists make a glass duck while we were there.
From the demonstration I learned that there are only a few factories or shops on the island now. Also was warned that a good portion of the glass items sold in the gift shops was not made in Murano.
After the demonstration I went into their gift shop (no pictures allowed) and picked out something that I thought would make a nice gift. Was invited to their showroom to view the more expensive offerings. I asked about a glass statue with some birds on it. It retailed for $77,000. Yikes! Everything I asked about was over $1,000. Last year, after divesting myself of most of my worldly possessions, I didn’t think it was the right time (or ever again) to start accumulating expensive glassware.
My next stop was to visit the glass museum, which got great reviews. I took some pictures while I walked to the museum. What a wonderful town! Clean, friendly people, and it looked like the tourists were having a great time as well, strolling along the waterfront and looking into the the shops just as I was doing.
At the museum I purchased a ticket and walked through room after room of the most amazing, and some very old, glassware. Murano is known to be the mothership of glass-making. Here is a link (see History section) that describes how glass-making evolved here on this island. LINK
I was getting hungry and decided to have a full meal at one of the large sidewalk restaurants near the Piazza San Marco where my 3:30 tour will start. I decided on a restaurant that had great reviews. I figured I had a little over an hour to have a nice lunch and enjoy the view out into the lagoon. I ordered a starter dish of mussels and clams then some lasagna for the main course. I was served a large bowl full of the mussels and clams and I went to work digging into it and enjoying every bite. Was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. I used the bread that was provided to soak up the sauce. I mistakenly gave one of the aggressive pigeons (when will I ever learn not to do this) some of my bread. Soon this pigeon’s friends joined in. It took me and several of the people eating around me to shoo them away.
Next came the lasagna. It didn’t look exactly like the lasagna that is made in the U.S. It didn’t have the distinctive layers of pasta. It had a pasta-like bottom, but the layers must have been thin rather than the thick pasta used in the U.S. In any case, after the first bite, I was impressed. Never had I eaten lasagna like this before. All the ingredients worked well together and it wasn’t too spicy, just flavorful. And I wanted more when finished – even though I was served a generous portion.
I checked the time and needed to leave immediately to find where to meet up with the tour operator. I wanted to spend more time in the Piazza San Marco, but it was requested that I show up at 3:15. There was some confusion when I got my ticket, but we got it sorted out before we left on the tour.
We first went around where the cruise and cargo ships docked then came around to the start of the Grand Canal tour near where the train station is located. The tour guide was very knowledgeable about many of the buildings and churches we passed along the way down the canal. I had trouble keeping up with the stories behind each building that she described. It must have been something when these buildings were the palaces of the wealthy people who lived in Venice when it was at its peak. Much restoration is in process, but we could still admire each of this large homes which are now used more for entertainment and official residences or offices of organizations.
Bridge of Sighs
When we docked, I took some time to explore Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Plaza). This vast square was very popular with the tourists. I should have allowed more time to properly visit this part of Venice. Even though I was there for only about 10 minutes, I saw an eyeful. Perhaps if I return again I’ll have a better idea what I’d like to see. Though I’d like to find a time when the streets are not so crowded with tourists. The guide on the Grand Canal tour boat said that 25 million people visit Venice each year. Wow! 25 million!
I checked the time again and realized that I needed to move quickly to catch my train back to Bologna. My GPS was good about helping me navigate the streets, but given so many twists and turns of each alley, I lost my way a few times and had to backtrack. I eventually found a path next to a canal that took me most of the way back to the station.
Because I thought the train left at 5:35, I didn’t realize my mistake until it was 5:24, a minute before the train was getting ready to leave. Because it left right at 5:25, I missed the train. If I had been one minute sooner, I would have made it. Fortunately my ticket was good for the next train which was leaving in 20 minutes. This train made all the stops between Venice and Bologna so it took about 30 minutes longer. I just sat back and enjoyed the countryside as we traveled to Bologna.
What a great day I had in Venice! The weather was perfect for walking around and enjoying the many shops and buildings that make up Venice. So many islands to explore. Next time…
By the time I got home, I was dead tired. I bought a small sandwich at the train station that I later ate for dinner. Even at 9:00 p.m. – was still a little full from today’s lunch.
Tomorrow I return to Florence and finish my visit there. My train leaves at 9:10 and I’m scheduled to return late in the afternoon. Another full day, but I’m ready for it.