John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Tuesday 19 June 2012

[Monday 18 June 2012]
We went down for breakfast at 7pm, in time for the 7.45am pick-up to go to Venice. Our tour rep was Mair. There was a “comfort” stop at a shop-cum-café place en route. We didn’t buy anything but used the loo. We went over the long road-and-rail bridge that Mair called “The Bridge of Freedom” from the mainland to the large island of Venice, where the coach parked. We walked the short distance to a quay and boarded a boat, which took us around to the south of the island a little way beyond St. Mark’s, the Bridge of Sighs, etc. On the boat commentary and pointing out of landmarks was done expertly by another tour rep, who was later made known to us as Lynn.

10:26:45 Boarding the boat Il Doge


10:36:46 Huge Nassau-registered liner

10:42:01 Views from Giudecca Canal

10:42:16 Views from Giudecca Canal

10:43:15 Views from Giudecca Canal

10:43:39 Looking left: Santa Maria del Rosario (St. Mary of the Rosary) or I Gesuati

10:45:23 Looking right: Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore (Church of the Most Holy Redeemer), a 16th century Palladio church on the island of Giudecca

10:46:19 Looking ahead and to the left: Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St Mary of Health) (left) and Campanile di San Marco (bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica) (right)

10:47:18 Looking right: Le Zitelle (or Santa Maria della Presentazione), also on Giudecca and attributed to Palladio

10:48:26 Looking ahead and to the right: San Giorgio Maggiore

10:48:46 St Mark’s Campanile (left) and Doge’s Palace (right)

10:50:06 Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) over Rio Canonica Palazzo

10:51:18 San Giorgio dei Greci (Saint George of the Greeks), Greek Orthodox church with its leaning campanile (left); and Santa Maria della Visitazione (or della Pietà), the “Vivaldi church” (right)

The boat moored at Riva degli Schiavoni, and we disembarked into bright sunshine and extreme heat. We followed Mair as she turned left, passing over perhaps four humpback footbridges (the last of which revealed the Bridge of Sighs).

11:10:14 Bridge of Sighs

11:11:56 “Puff the Magic Dragon”, atop the eastern column at the south end of Piazzetta di San Marco (winged lion, symbol of St. Mark and of Venice)

11:12:48 St. Theodore atop the western column at the south end of Piazzetta di San Marco

We followed Mair as far as the arcade at the south side of St. Mark’s Square, where it was realised that a couple had been left behind — our procession had proceeded rather quickly and they hadn’t been able to keep up — so Mair suggested that for our gondola ride we catch up with Lynn, while she herself went back to look for the missing couple. Lynn had led her party through, at the north-west of the square, to the canal on the other side of the building. But when we found Lynn, she told us that the gondola-ride arrangements for her party were different from that for Mair’s. So we went back and found Mair again.

11:23:34 Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) with Basilica and Campanile di San Marco

We did get our gondola ride. We were divided into groups of six, and Janet and I were in the first group. I was in the prow seat facing the others, though I was able to sit sideways and face the front. The gondola listed heavily to the right (as one faced the direction of travel) despite the gondolier’s standing on the left, so my leaning to the left (or from my point of view right) in order to look round served perhaps to offset that list slightly.





Before we’d come on the trip to Italy, we’d been warned that the canals stank, especially in hot weather; but apart from one location, quickly passed, that smelt a bit “sewerish”, all the canals smelt neither pleasantly nor unpleasantly of “lake”. We turned right and then left, and then reached the Grand Canal, into which we turned left.

11:37:16 In the Grand Canal, looking back to the north-east: Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto)

11:37:26 Grand Canal, looking south-west


We turned left, off the Grand Canal, into a “one-way street”, then there were more twists and turns till we got back more or less to our starting-point.

11:40:38 About to turn off the Grand Canal to the left (note the “one way” traffic sign on the corner)




There’d been a Hard Rock Café just by where we’d boarded the gondola, and we thought to go there; but it was crowded, so we walked a block or two and found a bar/ristorante, went in and had a Coca Cola Light, and I had a hot sandwich. There were three or four Glaswegians there as well. From there we found our way back to the Piazza San Marco, wandered briefly into the Piazzetta San Marco, then joined the not-too-long queue to go in the Basilica di San Marco. One of the reps had referred to it as the Church of Gold, and we could see why. We sat for a while in the quiet chapel to the far left, where people came and genuflected and crossed themselves and knelt in prayer, as well as sitting. Not as “moving” a place as the little church in Assenza. No “Hail Mary” from me this time!

12:49:14 West façade of St. Mark’s basilica

12:50:32 Piazzetta di San Marco with the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance

12:51:24 Standing at the north end of Piazzetta di San Marco, looking east, with the campanile behind


12:52:32 St Mark’s Campanile

12:53:46 Waiting to enter St. Mark’s: view under the rightmost arch

12:54:32 Waiting to enter St. Mark’s: view under the arch to the right of the entrance

12:55:00 Waiting to enter St. Mark’s: view under the entrance arch

12:55:08 Waiting to enter St. Mark’s: view just above the entrance







13:14:38 After leaving St. Mark’s: view under the arch to the left of the entrance

13:15:00 After leaving St. Mark’s: view under the leftmost arch

13:18:36 Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) from the Piazzetta di San Marco

I fancied going in the Campanile, but Janet was finding it too hot even to think about climbing stairs. A seat became free in the arcade beneath the Doge’s Palace, so we sat in it. It was really too hot to do much else, but there were another two hours to go before we were to rendezvous back for the boat. So we went back part of the way we’d come this morning, along the Riva degli Schiavoni, passing the Bridge of Sighs; then we turned first left to look for a cool place.

13:44:28 Crossing back over Rio Canonica Palazzo, with the Bridge of Sighs visible

13:45:22 The island of San Giorgio Maggiore, across the Canale di San Marco

We went in one place, decided we didn’t much like the look or feel of it, turned a corner, and went in another, the Osteria da Bacco. Janet had two Coca Cola Light and I had two ca.500ml glasses of Löwenbräu, a familiar brand from back home — perhaps The Crow’s Nest in Cleethorpes. Initially there was a young couple to our left, and a mixed group of people just beyond them at the left end, in animated conversation. I thought I heard one, an older woman, say, “Bom dia!”, so figured they were Portuguese or Brazilian. But the woman of the couple, who was French, told me they were from Argentina. People came and went, and we whiled away a pleasant couple of hours till it was time to emerge into the heat again.

15:29:12 Crossing back over Rio del Greci, with the leaning campanile of San Giorgio dei Greci visible, as we returned to the boat

15:30:40 Santa Maria della Visitazione (or della Pietà), the “Vivaldi church”

15:31:08 View along Riva dei Schiavoni

15:44:36 Re-boarding the boat

16:36:50 Approaching Ponte della Libertà (Freedom Bridge)

16:38:32 In a slow-moving traffic queue on Ponte della Libertà. Two double-decker trains are visible.

16:44:26 The cause of the slow-moving traffic queue on Ponte della Libertà

17:05:04 Self-portrait through the driver’s mirror…

17:05:04 Self-portrait through the driver’s mirror, flipped horizontally so left is left and right is right. Behind us are Doreen and Anita.

There was one stop, during which Janet availed herself of the loo but I didn’t feel the need, and we were back at the hotel ca.7.30pm. The room was dark because the staff had lowered the metal-slat shutter in an attempt, one assumes, to stop the room overheating. We went for dinner — see the entry for yesterday for the incident which may have occurred then or this evening — then retired to the airless oven of a room, which opening the balcony door didn’t mitigate. My feet were very sore from the exertions of the day, so I wasn’t feeling fit to go out again, but at least they had carried me around Venice with no difficulty. The very swollen ankles returned to just about normal during the night.

[Wednesday 20 June 2012]

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