Saturday, May 26th – NOW We are on a Cruise!

Well, we slept GREAT, since we were so exhausted.  We put in a wake up call, but Dot beat them to it by about 15 minutes this morning.  We went upstairs to the buffet for breakfast – which was a very typical breakfast buffet.  I had a little bit of scrambled eggs, and a bit of cheese, which was good, but I have protein and crackers with me, so I’ll have stuff to eat later if I need it.  We met our group for our Venice excursion, and we were on our way early, early, early.

We headed out on a water taxi – duh, obviously, since this is Venice and their streets are, um, water.  I was SO glad we got away from the ugly part at the port – the city of Venice is really beautiful.  I have to say, though, if you ever want to own a country or a state – don’t buy one that is comprised of mostly islands.  It seems that Venice was a GREAT place to put the dregs of society, because of the many islands.  Every island they pointed out to us was at one point a haven for criminals, the mentally ill, orphans, or those considered incurable (I believe our guide referred to them once as “Leap-ers”). 

Our first stop is at the island of Murano for a demonstration of the art of glass blowing and a tour of the factory.  Oh my goodness – so many beautiful things in one place!   The guy conducting our tour is hysterical – introducing our artisan as “George, the new guy”.  He tells us George has only been there a few days, as he “just” started in 1957.  He points out all of the equipment, explaining what it does, and tells us the only thing they have to replace every 100 years are the employees.  After making a gorgeous blue vase, George begins making a glass horse, and our host tells us that the legs are the most important part, and if George breaks them, they have to shoot him.  He was hysterical.

Brighid takes notice of the thing Italy is legendary for – amazingly handsome, very sophisticated looking Italian men.  No jeans and sneakers for this lot, I’ll tell you.  Even the one guy who WAS wearing jeans had a pair that were pin-striped.  And not a bo-bo in the bunch – all fine looking leather shoes.  And great teeth.  And gorgeous hair.  Oh, and that glass too.  Yeah, nice glass.

We leave the glass factory with a beautiful necklace for Brighid and head over to our Gondola ride.  Let me tell you – don’t be fooled by those peaceful, lovely, romantic sites you see with the calm waters of Venice, the handsome, singing gondolier, and the cuddling couple.  There are 6 of us boarding our gondola, but we board right there in the main canal, where the water is crowded and so rough.  I cling to Brighid for dear life, as I am sure our boat is about to tip over and leave me drowned, right here, in Venice, on my first day of the cruise.  I am on the right side of the boat, Brighid is on the left.  At least when we start.  I am sure by the time we reach the back street/canal where our actual ride starts, I am at least as on the left side of the boat as Brighid – convinced it is saving me from certain peril.  I cannot lean anymore in that direction if I want to.

We do not have a singing – or humming, or whistling – gondolier, but the guy behind us is whistling away, so we listen to him.  Our gondolier does not speak English, so there is no communication during our gondola ride.  I am fascinated that the doors on buildings are rotted away by the water over time, but they are not replaced with something that will keep the water out.  I am also surprised I do not see rats – for some reason, I assumed I would.  I learn later from another member of our group that if you looked up under the buildings, you could see a few deceased rats floating in the water.  I guess I am glad not to have seen them.

Our water taxi takes us over to an island that is home to the San Giorgio cathedral.  It is gorgeous, and we are fortunate to see a bride and groom, in a beautiful mahogany boat decorated with lovely white flowers arrive for their wedding.  We get a tour of the cathedral, which is, of course, older than dirt but with the beautiful appointments you do not find anywhere in contemporary architecture.  There is a painting of the Last Supper there by the Italian artist Tintoretto.  It is a beautiful, almost lively painting – much different from the one done by DiVinci.  His positioning of the table in the painting gives you the impression that you are there, or invited to be there, taking part in this crucial time in the life of Jesus Christ.  You can see the painting here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Tintosoup.jpg

We did a little shopping – mostly post cards – and arrived safely back at the ship in time for a quick bite to eat.  We were then off to get ready for the first formal night on the ship.  We showered, dolled up, looked gorgeous, and had a great meal.  You can always tell formal night because the menu is never in English 😉   I had a crab cocktail, which was very good; cream of chicken soup, which was bland; filet mignon, which was excellent; and the cheese plate for dessert. 

We met Dot and Russ’s friends Eileen and Ken, and their friends Angel and Vinnie – they were all very nice people.  The show tonight was really good, and Brighid looked GORGEOUS in the white gown – she turned so many heads!

In addition to the wedding, we saw a funeral in Venice.  There must have been 500 people trying to get into the Church behind the casket.

Fondest Memories of Today – Surviving the Gondola Ride from Hell (the E Ticket version), and the beautiful bride in the backdrop of that gorgeous cathedral.  I know why people travel to Italy to get married.