Friday, July 27, 2012

Travelogue – flowers in glass

Thursday, July 26

In deciding what to do today I looked over my guidebook's list of top spots. My reaction was: No more churches. Unless they really have something outstanding and different to offer. I checked a few descriptions. No outstanding and different. Museums? I've seen the big ones already. There is one close to here known for the architecture of the building and not so much for the contents of its exhibits. Next?

I bought a day-long pass for the vaparetto (water bus) system. I first took it around the north part of the city, then down the full length of the Grand Canal. That included a view of the museum known for its architecture. Yes, the Grand Canal is busy with boat traffic.

That museum:

Vaparettos have to dodge gondoliers (as well as the other way around).

I thought of going on along the south edge of the city, but I realized I needed lunch soon and there didn't seem to be many restaurants in that direction. So I got off and walked back to near Piazza San Marco. I found a Chinese restaurant with good prices. My $15 bought a small serving of cashew chicken (no vegetables), steamed rice, and fizzy water. Soy sauce helped with the blandness.

My table was just a few inches from an Asian family of parents and pre-teen son. They caught my attention because the father came in with a shrimp-mussel pizza from down the street. Ever try to eat pizza with chopsticks? The waitstaff didn't blink with the food brought in because the family also ordered a great deal of food from the restaurant.

It is noticeably warmer today than it was earlier in the week, bordering on hot.

Back on the vaparetto for an express run to the island of Murano. This took 20 minutes from San Marco on the south side around the eastern end of the city to the island a ways off the north side.

Murano has been famous for their glass works for many centuries. There was a time (15th Century?) in which all the mirrors in Europe were made in Murano. And if you were rich the mirrors came with etched images.

The workshops do not allow visitors, but the island has lots of shops of their work. There is also a pretty cool museum showing off the stuff that regular people can't buy. I was quite fascinated by the museum's room of 20th Century pieces. In another room there were glass reproductions of characters or figures from famous artwork. This included stuff by Picasso and Chagall.

Murano is famous for stretching out canes of glass and then cutting the canes into small pieces. The cross section of the cane has some kind of intricate pattern. A bunch of the small pieces may be placed together with the end-patterns showing and then fused together. This design is known as “millefiori” or million-flowers. Alas, all the shops have signs saying no photos.

I do have a photo of a public glass sculpture. Maybe this is where David Chihouly got his ideas?

Another famous Murano product is glass chandeliers. I went into one showroom and the biggest and most intricate chandeliers had price tags of $20,000 and $25,000. They're big enough I'd have to buy a new house, one with higher ceilings – and fancy enough to match the chandelier.

Shortly after arriving on Murano I solved the problem of being hungry from the light lunch. I saw a grocery store and bought a container of watermelon chunks for $2.50. It was quite good.

I took the vaparetto back to San Marco and went up the Bell Tower. At 6:00 pm. there isn't a line. I had put the zoom lens on my camera, but had to take it off. Too many things were too close to the bell tower. The photo is of the domes of St. Mark's and Venice to the northeast.

The Bell Tower has bells in it! A couple of them started ringing at 6:30.

Another vaparetto ride, this one back up the Grand Canal. By this time it was 8:00 and time for supper. My annoyance at paying $30 for dinner every night won out and my wallet rejoiced at an out-of-the-way place with low prices. Alas, that was at the expense of my tastebuds. The $19 meal featured stale bread and a lettuce salad showing its age.

Today's other annoyance. Before I came I bought a bus ticket to get from the airport into the city and a 12 hour vaparetto pass. Since I was arriving at 5:00 pm. there was no need to use the pass immediately and I could save it for another day (like today).

But the 12 hours started when I validated the bus ticket. When I tried to use it today it was expired. The arrangement is obviously (as I see now) for someone who is flying in, seeing Venice in a day, and flying out. That wasn't me and the site didn't say so.

I guess I had some feeling about this because I didn't buy the return bus ticket (and it may be a * lot* easier to get to the airport by vaparetto). I had a bad feeling about it because when I collected my ticket at the airport I got one piece of cardboard, not two.

I will certainly complain. Why would I want a 12 hour ticket when I arrive in town late afternoon?

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