Posted by: jtccitaly | May 27, 2011

Maps? We Don’t Need No Stinking Maps!

Today we went to Venice. I’m going to have a hard time describing Venice for you, but I will try. It is one of the most unique cities I’ve ever been to. It’s truly a magical place. You get off the train and it’s hard to believe that a place like Venice is real. As you walk around the city, you get accustomed to the magic a little but still, there are surprises, wonderful surprises around every corner. Whether it’s a passing Gondola or the laundry flapping in the breeze above the flower boxes, there are wonders to behold.

I’m going to try to let some of the many photos I took speak for themselves. I’m trying out a new feature of the blog – a slideshow – so hopefully that will work out. Check out the pictures and see what you think.

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In terms of what we did, here was the daily agenda. We took an early train into Venice and then had a very leisurely walk through the city to St. Mark’s. Some folks with tired feet elected to take the Vaporetto (water taxi). The Piazza San Marco is amazing. This was the heart of the old city and the buildings and monuments around the piazza are impressive. No pictures allowed inside St. Marks, but you can get a feel for it from the outside. It’s wonderfully over the top – just about the polar opposite of the Scrovegni Chapel. Everything is golden on the inside – and huge – and amazing, but in a totally different way.

After we made it through St. Mark’s we left the rest of the day for everyone to explore Venice in groups and pairs. The art students did some sketching and everyone had many adventures. I think all of our travelers came back with a story to tell. Here are some highlights of today from others. Mahler and Lauren decided to wander and wandered so far that they ended up at the ocean (I don’t know how they managed that one but they have the pictures to prove it.) Many of the students took a ride on a Gondola. Jonathan had a huge and very expensive beer (one liter! 17 euros!) I’m sure many more stories will be told tomorrow morning when we all are in one place together again.

As for my story – well, it was an interesting day! Beth and I needed to do some advance reconnaissance so that we could get everyone around the city tomorrow fairly smoothly. David, Kathy and Alissa came along as well. I’m not sure exactly how to describe the first hour and a half that we spent trying to find the Opera House. Let’s just say that: 1.) I think that the maps (plural) we were using were all designed to try to drive tourists insane; 2.) I didn’t think that it was possible to turn a 5 minute walk into an hour and a half exploration, but apparently, it can be done; and 3.) I think that it is possible that Venice is some kind of experiment and we are the rats in the maze. No cheese to be found as yet. Anyway, we did finally find La Fenice but only because I think we walked on pretty much every street within a 5 mile radius. Oh, and it was on the very last street that we tried.

This is how we spent most of the day

And like this

And this

After that debacle, we decided that since we had already lost our minds, it couldn’t get much worse. We took a traghetto across the Grand Canal. The traghetto is a two man gondola (not the fancy ones, these are working boats) and the best way I can describe them is a water subway. Imagine 14 people (plus the two drivers) on a small boat (similar to a canoe, but shaped more like a gondola) packed in tightly STANDING UP while crossing the canal. Oh and did I mention that there are all kinds of MUCH bigger boats zipping around so that there is quite a bit of a wake? We weren’t really sure that we would arrive on the other side safe and dry but we did! We got separated from David, so I have photos of him crossing and I have one picture of the front of the boat that I took as we crossed. David was the first person in the boat so he got to sit down. (Just like on the subway, there are a few seats). I have to say that all my years of yoga balance moves paid off today. I have decided that I am going to make my theatre students take the traghetto across tomorrow because: 1.) It is the fastest way across; 2.) I think everyone should experience terror, oops, I mean everyone should have an adventure and 3.) Heck, if that isn’t drama, what is!? Oh, also 4.) It’s cheap! (Only 50 euro cents as opposed to about 6.50 euros for the vaporetta). I’ll let you know how it went in tomorrow’s blog.

Leaving David!

David on the boat (near the back)

A view from the traghetto

We needed gelato to calm us down so we had some. I remembered to take some pictures! It doesn’t adequately convey the yumminess though. We then found a few more places we need to find, saw some cool bridges, and did a little shopping. We made it back to the train station and came back to the hotel for dinner and a well-deserved rest.

Gelato, Venice style. Yum!

Moster Calzone!


Cuttlefish and Polenta (it was yummy - kind of like squid)

Pasta Mama Rosa (pasta with delicious stuff thrown in)

Fantastic walnut tortellini!

Group dinner at the wonderful pizzeria across the street from our hotel

Overall, it was a wonderful day. Our group is feeling the effects of walking nearly continuously for a week, not sleeping as well and many people have various aliments. Blisters and swollen feet abound. Sore muscles and stiff joints are de rigor. But none of us would rather be anyplace else than here.

Keep reading! Tomorrow is the opera!




  1. Hi Kerrigan:

    I hope the recon helped, and Ingrid’s feet don’t suffer that much, I was horrified by the size of her blisters, hope everything goes well, so she can make it through the whole ordeal, thanks for taking good care of her! Beautiful pictures….Enjoy Venice!

    • Ingrid was a trooper today – her feet were killing her but she made it through. She got to see all kinds of stuff. She’ll be able to rest up on the bus tomorrow.

  2. Thanks Kerrigan!…It has been killing me to know how she is, but now that you posted some very nice pics and your message, I’m pretty sure she’s resting on the bus, I had been living the whole experience through your blog, great pictures! ttyl

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