Veniceland and leaving the Continent.
We left Florence at a comfortable pace, except packing out the flat on a street where you can't park and at rush hour. John had to circle three times and in the final load received an Italian heartfelt "Fack Yuu, Mathurfackur." Swearing in English with an Itailian accent doesn't flow off the tongue nearly as well as Itailian cursing: Vaffanculo stronzo!
We arrive to the parking garage in Venice. This is where our rental will sit for the next few days, as no motorized vehicles are allowed on the callis of Venice, everything is done by boat or by foot. In many ways this is less stressful than the busy cities we have been in and our pace and vibrating systems seem to slow. We adjust again to an AirBnB and the hosts are very helpful and pleasant. It is our 19th Wedding anniversary, so he makes a suggestion for a romantic restaurant. From here we walk to the local market, get dinner for the kids and ditch them for a little "us" time.
The next day we rise for San Marcos to cue-up early for the Bassilica. This works out perfect. We arrived ~40 minutes early and held our place in line but each of us were able to take in the views. Even the annoying vendors were not set up yet, and we got in and out quickly. As we were leaving, the cues were long and the Chruch was becoming crammed. We stopped long enough to light a candle and say a prayer for a friend of Ethan's who is fighting cancer. After a quick water break and a chase of the pigeons we proceed to a free walking tour. Of note, 75,000 people/day will descend upon this square in peak season (mostly cruise ships and day trippers).
We again stop at a random gas station with it's own espresso machine and fresh croissants and later for a full lunch at a small cafe/bakery "diner" where they insisted on table mats and proper silverware. This standard is nice and there is something to be said for pay-for service. If you sit down you pay more for food than if you stand and if you take-away it's even less. No tipping or as they say: "servious inclusio".
It is pretty magical to have an anniversary in Venice. After a bottle of prosseco along the Grand Canal, we proceed to an amazing fish restaurant Osteria Trefanti. The owner reminds me of John Cleese in a Monty Python skit making fun of a French waiter. It's highly entertaining and we made fast friends, as he is a lover of organic wines and distillation products. We invited him to Ouray, of course. This area of the world is very proud of thier wines and the lack of chemicals. I must admit, red wines back home seem to give me a food sensitivity (irritated palate, achy hangover, etc) this is not true of the red wines here. I still prefer the whites and prossecos, nonetheless. We opted-out of an overpriced gondola ride and skipped the red rose vendors, everything was romantic enough for me, although John would have happily done more.
Obvious things John and I remember about our separate teenage visits to Venice is St. Marks, (The Doge), the train station, the Grand Canal and the myriad is shops. What started to roll back our deeper memories were the Gondola builders, the Sleeping Pope Alley, the Titty-Bridge and the Honest Woman facadę. If you don't know what I am talking about then go to Venice and take a tour. It's worth the pilgrimage. However, be aware that Venitians do not want this to become Veniceland. It is important to avoid restaurants that offer pictures on the menus, and barkers inviting you in. These are often not true local fare. As well, only buy from mask stores that show you their workshop and real Murano glass is not cheap. (More on Murano later.)
Concurrent to our first day in Venice, comes the news of more strikes and more violence in Paris. 70,000 people marching, closure of the Effiel tower, 40 people injured, two car.b.q's, taxi strikes, train strikes and air traffic control strikes (all because the government wants legislation on a 35 hour work week!) I am sorry if I have readers who appriciate the French, but my experience is that the Frogs are a bunch of lazy, poncy, spoiled prats, who will take advantage of you at any opportunity. Only in Caen did a taxi try to swindle me, no where else throughout this whole trip have I felt this way (although Italy will negotiate, it's at least upfront) and other off-putting tidbits.
We decide to cancel Paris. To me, it's just not worth the hassle, let alone the potential to be stranded there or pay out the nose for subpar Parisian help. We did lose some money on deposits but we found a flight from Milan to Stansted, three days hence. Our accommodations in London are free and in the long run we are probably going to save money. Evie is mildly bummed that we are missing Paris, but she, too, has observed the shit-show and is confident she'll be back to Europe. Like Munich, Paris is a big city that is easy (most times) to visit. This will not only allow us to finish Venice and Verona, but will also give John the time he would like to show the kids his London.
Fack Yuu, Yuu facking froogs.