Night Location: Venice, Italy
Song of the Day: Romeo and Juliet - Dire Straits
Mumisode of the Day: Arriving in Verona, David headed into the unisex WC. After a moment's hesitation, Mum followed. When she caught sight of the squat toilet facility she said a loud "Oh, mercy!" and reversed. David laughed out loud, and at the time Mum did not realize who it was and thought that some Italian man had laughed at her. David was highly amused.
Given our track record for transit days and at Amber's request, we were up at the crack of dawn this morning ready for the transit to Venice. Amber, David and Mum all fell promptly back to sleep after the packing of the car, and Gemma and Dad watched the sun rise over the freeway and the Milan traffic.
First stop today was fair Verona, or Piccola Roma as it used to be called. This is the home of the tale of Romeo and Juliet, and as such we had to pay homage to the Juliet balcony. You enter the home of the Capella family (extended to Capulet by Shakespeare) through a tunnel covered with love letters and writing. No one ventured up to the balcony, even though David had offered to be Romeo.
The five of us sat and had a continental breakfast (pastry, bread rolls, juice and coffee) overlooking the Verona arena. It is a lot like the Colosseum in Rome, however this one is still used as an opera venue. Pretty fantastic to be attending an opera in a venue that is over two thousand years old.
Dad drove magnificently on toward Venice. Amber, Gemma and Mum were deposited on the side of the road with the mound of baggage once again while Dad and David returned the hire vehicle. This time, there was a fence between the car and the footpath so all the luggage had to be thrown over the fence while the rest of us ran around to the other side.
After some deliberation, it was decided that we should move ourselves and the mound over the first of many bridges in Venice, toward the train station, our planned meeting point. Gemma and Amber set off with the backpacks, up the stairs to the top of the bridge. Amber stood guard while Gemma returned for the remaining bags and Mum. We then made a lot of racket, dragging five backpacks down the stairs on the other side of the bridge and on toward the train station.
Leaving Mum to do some writing, Gemma and Amber set off in search of the WC where they hoped to remove their leggings as it was quite hot. It was a bit of an adventure. The train station is packed with people and bags not really going anywhere and blocking all entrances and exits. The toilet itself required 80 euro cents in exact change to enter, something that appeared to confuse most of the other tourists, much to Amber's irritation as she was stuck on one side of the toilets while other people just stared confused at the change machine.
With leggings removed, there may have been a purchase of some Magnum Classics and we returned to await David and Dad. To our disappointment, the hotel that we were staying in required us to return across the bridge that we had so heroically crossed earlier. Luckily we did not have that far to go as we had elected to stay within easy distance of public transport.
The children were staying in an apartment. It all sounded very lovely apart from the fact that it was up three flights of some of the longest and steepest ladder-stairs ever witnessed. They were extremely narrow. Still not sure how the backpacks managed to make it up. While Gemma was sorting out the rooms, Amber and David made it almost all the way up with the three bags. Gemma arrived just in time at the last flight of stairs, where she pushed her bag while Amber pulled it up the rest of the ladder. The apartment was really nice, once up. It overlooked two canals and the big cruise ships moored out in the sea. Amber and David kindly offered Gemma the double room and leaving their backpacks at the base in the kitchen climbed even more stairs to the loft above.
After leaving the baggage and another layer of clothes, we set off for the centre. Since this was the first time Mum, Dad and Amber had been to Venice, we decided to catch the Vaparetto into St Mark's Square as everyone should arrive here by boat for the first time. The Grand Canal was in stunning form. The water was clean, the sky a striking blue and the houses along the banks unchanged for centuries. We passed under the Rialto Bridge, and Amber got some fantastic pictures out the window as usual. At last there was the square and we stepped off the boat into the throngs of people.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the many lanes and small bridges and canals and shops of Venice. To David's great delight we stumbled upon a Venchi gelato store, our favourite from Rome complete with Aztec Chocolate and Cour di Cacao. There are many, many glass shops. We searched all afternoon for the glasses that we had loved so much in Capri that were made in Murano, but to no avail. Gemma and Amber did find and purchase gorgeous glass earrings near the Rialto Bridge and Mum bought a beautiful blue vase. Something else for the Country Road bag.
During our exploration we stumbled upon a restaurant that looked promising given the number of tourist website stickers on its doorway. We have become very skilled in sourcing these stickers, and so far, Trip Advisor 2011 and Michelin Guide stickers have proved successful. The stickers did not let us down once again, although we were a little under dressed.
The highlight of this meal for everyone was the fish of the day as ordered by Amber and David (for a minimum of two people). David had enquired and had been informed that yes it was going to be filleted so the look of horror on his face, followed shortly by Amber's face, was priceless when a giant fish emerged on a silver platter surrounded by potato and lemon and other goodness. Fortunately it was taken away to be served for them, but the waiters may have been a little confused with David and Amber staring aghast. While the fish was being filleted there was also a small degree of alarm, as the price for the fish was 7 euro per 100 grams; and as Amber pointed out, it was enormous. David informed her that this could be the big spend for Venice and she did not look pleased. David thought the fish was the best of his life. Amber didn't like it at all and ate very gingerly in case she swallowed a bone. Not her favourite big spend so far.