Moby Obie Memorial Mediterranean Cruise, Days 1 & 2

VENICE

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[A canal . . . a sign we’re arriving in the city of canals?]

We’ve established that our cruise began in Venice.  We arrived the afternoon of Thursday, August 22 – the ship would be departing the following morning for Athens.  This was our only chance to tour Venice.

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[It appeared we would be landing in a large bowl of Gazpacho?]

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[The Outer Banks?]

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[Welcome to Venice!]

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[Ooops, I think we’re overshooting?]

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[We did overshoot – the city, not the airport.  But, of course, our Princess representative was there to greet us and make sure we got on the right bus for the ship.  A nice trip through the area neighborhoods.]

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[And you have to go over water to reach the city . . .]

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[Serviced by all manner of public transportation.]

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[After checking in and finding Anne and Bill, it was off to the city.  We were flying by the seat of our pants – which happened to include some maps and ideas.  😉  We were looking to ride the Vaporetto up and down the Grand Canal.]

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[After some discussion among ourselves and another pod of tourists, we determined we should take the light rail for one stop to the city.  Fortunately, Bill came prepared with Euros.]

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[Now where?  We were at the Grand Canal but weren’t sure where to go?  Someone directed us over this foot bridge – didn’t seem to be the place when we got to the other side?]

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[Here comes a boat.  Is it the one we’re looking for?]

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[The canal is busy; the domes look important?]

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[Are we s’pose to go to that side canal?]

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[The place is certainly unique!]

A pause for some notes:  You may have noticed that the sky is blue.  It was blue the whole two weeks.  Apparently, it never rains in the Mediterranean in summer.  Absent clouds, it was hot.  Probably mid-80’s here in Venice (northern Italy), but going around through Athens, Kusadasi (KOO-sha-dah-sah), and Istanbul, the temperatures were in the mid-90’s, hitting 100 in Mykonos.  Anne had a good pedometer.  Shore excursions were usually for 8 hours, and the pedometer generally showed we walked 5 – 6 miles at each stop, sometime with climbs.  This caught a lot of our elderly tourists by surprise – a lot of grumbling.  Just be aware before you go.

By now you are aware these cruise ships are monsters.  And because all our stops are popular tourist destinations, the ginormous cruise ships would arrive in packs!  With up to 4,000 passengers per ship, just think of the number of 60 passenger tour buses waiting for us at each stop!  Can you imagine one of these bad boys pulling up to the Arrowwood marina and have 60 buses waiting in the parking lot for a full-fledged assault on Alex?  Mykonos has less than 10,000 residents – more than twice that many tourists visit there, every day!  You can tell the locals get a bit exacerbated, but tourism is their entire economy.

Oh, and if go you in a group, put the entire group under one name!  At every stop we had a group of 17 who always wanted to be together but they were listed under different names in groups of two or four.  Drove the tour guides crazy trying to figure out if they had everybody.  And be prepared to be in mobs wherever you go – it’s now just the nature of the beast.

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[Since we did this on the fly, we were just looking more than studying.  They had a tour guide audio if you sat inside the boat, but we wanted to be outside for photo purposes.  So, we’ll just have a series of photos along the Grand Canal, not noting any specific place because I really don’t feel like looking through a guide book for each.  We were just enjoying the experience.  And away we go . . .]

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[Like the boat we were on.]

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[A gondola, obviously.  We did not partake – not enough time.]

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[Bill stands inside for a photo op.]

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[Ain’t we got fun?]

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[Bill says, “I got it!”]

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[Bill says, “I got it!”]

venice

venice-tr

[Woo-woo!]

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[35-foot tall statue by Marc Quinn of fellow artist Alison Lapper (who was born without arms) in the piazza on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.  Apparently, somewhat recent and somewhat controversial.]

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[Not mine.]

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[Now we do see these on . . . Lake Minnetonka?]

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[Coming up to San Marco and our hop off.  The on-and-off boats allow you to get off or on at any stop.]

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[The Plaza at San Marco is the major draw in Venice.  We did a lot of walking here.  We didn’t get started until late afternoon, but Anne reported 5 miles on her pedometer at the end.  Certainly, a must see place.  The rest of the photos on this day will be in the plaza, and then wandering through the back alleys of Venice to another boat hop-on spot.]

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[Happy American tourists!  🙂 ]

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[The bell tower . . . well, the bottom half of it.]

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[Oy!  The architecture!]

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[How much is that in Euros?]

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[I think it’s a buck-two-eighty.]

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[Leaving out the back door . . .]

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[The Plaza has long been famous (?) for its pigeons.  That has long term consequences.  While there are many still here, it’s now a $800 fine for feeding them.]

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[Let’s get lost!]

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[Which way?]

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[We could swim for it?]

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[The blondish-gray guy to the supervisor’s left certainly looks like Brother Cam?]

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[Ben Franklin?]

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[Just out window shopping with a couple thousand of my closest friends.  Is that Miley Cyrus in the left foreground?]

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[The are 27 different nationalities on this staircase.]

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[Aahhh, we’re getting close!]

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[But which side?]

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[Where we were.]

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[One if by land, two if by sea?]

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[You will soon see a string quartet on the Royal Princess – ours were from the Ukraine, and I’m pretty sure these are Italians.  😉 ]

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[It’s the next morning.  This our neighbor.  We’re getting ready to leave Venice to two days at sea – destination Athens.]

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[A faithful tug is there to help guide us out.]

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[But another ship is coming in.]

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[Alcatraz?]

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[And we have departed our mooring.]

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[The railing is cluttered with tourists bidding ciao to Venice.]

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[The supervisor has snared a box seat.  🙂 ]

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[There’s a photographer’s courtesy that allows access to the railing.]

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[And now what we saw as we cruised out the Grand Canal.]

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[The crowd depth.]

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[Back at San Marco – a few people here!!]

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[Ciao, Venice!]

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[Anne, Bill, and the supervisor wax nostalgic.]

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[And the supervisor shoots a video as we sign-off from Venice!  🙂 ]

Up next:  At sea, on the way to Athens.

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