In Venice, when you arrive at the airport, you don't catch a train or bus or a taxi to take you to your hotel. You catch a boat. The sun was setting as we approached Venice across the lagoon, with our Alilaguna making stops on the outer islands along the way.
What a scene greeted us as we pulled up to the San Zaccaria stop on the Riva. It was Friday night and the tourists were out for the evening.
We found our little hotel down an alley and along our own little canal, full of gondolas.
We checked in and got directions to a piazza where we would find several restaurants. And that is when we began to discover the magic of this enchanting city. Walk through a narrow alley, cross a bridge over a canal, connect to another alley (Venetian street), and suddenly space opens up and you find yourself in a plaza surrounded by cafes, shops, and always an ancient well head.
After dining al fresco that first evening, we strolled a bit, making sure we kept our bearings. Near our hotel, crossing a canal, we looked up and there was the Bridge of Sighs. We ended up at Piazza San Marco.
Real touring began Saturday morning. We planned to start at the Basilica San Marco ( St Marks) but discovered it was closed until 12:30, so we went to the Doge's Palace instead.
Doges were the governors of this city state, and they lived richly.
Venetian glass, of course.
It was suggested by Rick Steves, who's guide book we were using, that we get lost in Venice, so that's what we did, with the ultimate goal of finding the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal.
Across the canal, there were several churches we wanted to find. We used a map to navigate from one Piazza or Campo to another.
And finally, late in the afternoon, we were back at Basilica San Marco.
This Byzantine style church is decorated in mosaics, much of it gold.
In the museum, the bronze horses that used to be on the exterior have been retired and replaced with copies.
Scaffolding prevented us from really seeing the replacements as we went out on a balcony to overlook the square.
To be continued.