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Old October 7th, 2011, 09:46 AM
Jason Leppert
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Solstice sailed into a sunny Venice yesterday afternoon and is now preparing to leave a very rainy Venice in a few moments. The weather just hours ago was fantastic and conducive to a great day of wandering in the canal filled city. In my opinion, Venice is best enjoyed on your own and away from tours, unless of course you would like to see the inside of St. Mark’s or the Doge’s Palace. There is something so magical about getting lost within the vast labyrinth of narrow streets and waterways. Just be sure to have a map on you at all times to ensure you can never get too lost.


Our Venice journey began yesterday afternoon with the Solstice sailing through the grand canal, passing by St. Mark’s square. As we continued along, the Celebrity Eclipse, one of Solstice’s younger sisters came into view with its dual smoke stacks rising above the low-lying structures of the city. Upon docking closer to the city’s airport and just opposite from the Eclipse, I then took a boat transfer with my aunt and cousin back to the titular square where we began our meandering through the multitude of shops and eateries.


Venice is a truly unique city. Roads are replaced by canals, and cars are replaced by gondolas and motor boats. There is no fear of getting run over by a speeding Vespa. The pace is slower. The only challenge here is staying clear of low flying pigeons and their excrement. Although, it did seem like the bird population has dwindled since my previous visit four years ago, but that could just be because the streets were busier with people this time around.


My first observation upon exploring the city is that there are quite a lot of restoration projects going on currently. Typically, scaffolding in Europe is draped with a giant photograph representing the portion of the building that is covered to be less distracting. While that was partially the case here, many of these restorations were actually plastered with advertisements. For instance, it was rather odd to see the isolated Bridge of Sighs backed and surrounded by billboards as seen below.


My cousin is quite the fashionista so we quickly found ourselves passing through St. Mark’s square for the fashion district of Venice. As my aunt and cousin perused the high-end shops, I remained outside to take in the textures of the crumbling architectural facades that encase these modern fashion products. Interestingly, my family members’ observation has been that, despite the European origins of many fashion designers, the selection beyond these local shops tends to be more considerable.


It must be because Venice occurs towards the end of our Mediterranean cruises that I find myself a bit overwhelmed by the excellent but repetitive Italian and French foods once I arrive. After awhile, it’s nice to fulfill a taste for Americana when abroad to offset the rich foods we’ve certainly enjoyed up to this point. Four years ago, my parents and I grabbed a bite at McDonald’s. This time, we made a stop at Hard Rock Cafe. If it’s any consolation, I had their Legendary Local which was an arugula, parmesan cheese, and pesto aioli topped hamburger. It was incredibly tasty, and you really can’t beat the view of this particular Hard Rock’s location.


We also did some Murano glass shopping. I love the vibrant colors and often bizarre shapes that this glass manifests itself in. These artisans are refreshingly uninhibited with their creations, and it shows. The glass is not just exclusive to the island of Murano either, and there are plenty of different styles to choose from. So be sure to shop around for the piece that most strikes your fancy.


It’s great that Celebrity stays overnight in Venice because it allows you the opportunity to enjoy the city at night with a leisurely dinner ashore prior to returning to the ship. A 24-hour visit feels considerably less rushed than a 10-hour single-day stay and also goes hand in hand nicely with the ambiance of the city itself. And now that we are leaving the city, the skies have cleared up, and it’s becoming a beautiful afternoon at sea.

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