Monday, July 16, 2007

Europe: Venice

It is a feast for the senses. Too much to absorb, really. I am completely understanding of why a student would want to backpack across Europe. In Bacharach we saw what was reportedly the first youth hostel - now there are hundreds.

Our accommodations are better than hostels, though in Bacharach the hostel was in a castle! I would say that the European's definition of air conditioning is quite different than someone from North America. Slightly cooled would be the better term here.

Venice. Venezia. Words fail me. AGB didn't like it. Too crowded, too hot, too dirty, not enough shops open late. He wants to go back to Germany where things were tidy and orderly and based on where we stayed, relatively quiet. However, he does like the Italian gelato....

Our views differ. I wouldn't want to live here, but Venice is its own unique and delightful city. See photos: Beautiful Venice.

We arrived on the date of the Redentore celebration. Lights lined the street, a boat bridge went from our island to the Redentore church ... also called The Redeemer. This celebration happens once a year when they commemorate the end of the plague in the 1500s. They prayed that the plague would go away and promised God if it did, they would build a church in remembrance. The plague ended, they kept their promise.

Every year they celebrate. Special mass on a number of occasions over two days in the church, the bridge across the water... only one day... the lights along the canal... special only for this celebration... and fireworks... oh my goodness, what fireworks... visible beautifully from our hotel and set to music for the first time ever. Nearly 40 minutes long. Photos: The Redentore Festival

We .. as a family.. saw St. Marks Basilica, The Doges Palace, the Correr Museum, the Calliere bell tower, Rialto Bridge, the Market, and to finish it off, Rick Steve's people arranged an evening gondola ride with musicians for 45 minutes along the canals, opening in to the Grand Canal right at the Rialto Bridge. B and I got to be in the gondola with the accordianist and the singer. It was glorious. To do it as a group wasn't quite as romantic but was a lot more fun!

See photos: Venice Classic Shots and The Gondola Ride

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