Sunday, April 11, 2004

Saturday morning we hopped on the train and headed for Venice. The train from Munich was pretty crowded for much of the journey. A couple hours before we arrived though, lots of people got off, and the kids and I were thrilled to nab a compartment all to ourselves. I schooled them in the fine travel-art of strewing one's belongings about to make it seem there are many more people in your compartment than there actually are. We pulled the seats out to make a nice big bed and rode the rest of the way in luxury:

While it might seem rather weak and pathetic to travel to Italy and sleep in a Holiday Inn, the Holiday Inn Express in Quarto d'Altino offered us an amazing bargain: 81 euro a night per room, including breakfast. Staying out in the suburbs also put us in the neighborhood of the cheap eats. We visited the same pizza restaurant 2 nights in a row and never came away disappointed.

We spent Sunday afternoon in Venice and had a marvelous time. We used the vaporetti (water bus) to travel around town. Although we got on our first boat heading in the wrong direction, which took us outside of the Grand Canal, we still got to our destination--St. Mark's Square--even if the ride there was not quite as scenic as we had hoped. We took another boat ride later just to view the canal.

At St. Mark's Square, we bought a bag of dried corn, which the older kids enjoyed feeding to the multitude of pigeons:

Mike even had some success in convincing one bird to visit his hand:

We opted to skip a gondola ride on this trip, as it can be rather pricey. It was still fun though to see the gondolas gliding through the canals and seeing the gondoliers trying to hustle up business:

While the vaporetti are rather dumpy and utilitarian, there are also a lot of really beautiful boats on the canals. Many of them operate as water taxis. I inquired at one that was similar to the one pictured below, and the price to take all 8 of us from the Rialto bridge back down to St. Mark's would have been 50 euro. Not a bad price if you've got 8 different wallets ponying up for the fare, but kind of steep when it's coming out of only 2 pockets. So we simply took pictures and admired them from dry land:

Elliott bought a Venetian mask as a souvenir of the city. Here he is modeling it, as Fred helps him fasten it in back:

Towards the end of the day, we took turns taking family pictures. Here we are:

And here are Teresa, Ethan, Frank, and Elliott:

Aside from riding the vaporetti, we also did an awful lot of walking. Annabelle and Ethan, however, found a way to travel in style for part of the time:

Next stop, Luzern!

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