3:30 PM local time
I’ve been posting the local time in bold because my browser is still set to eastern time and the times on the posts may be misleading. If you want to know what time of day it is when I post, look at the bold text above*.
I was up at 6 AM this morning after a pretty good night’s sleep. I threw on my gym clothes and headed down to the fitness center. It wasn’t the greatest fitness center in the world, and I didn’t like the ellipical machines they had, so I ran on the treadmill and got in a decent workout. Then it was back to the room to shower and by the time that was done it was 7 AM. I wasn’t meeting Mom and Dad for breakfast until 8 AM and I was going to spend that time in my room reading, but then I thought: heck, I should go out and explore the city. So that’s just what I did.
(Link to flickr pictures of Venice and the ship coming later.)
My favorite time in Venice is early in the morning. There are few people out and there is a really ancient town feel to it, especially if you ignore the Bvlgari and other high end Italian shops you find in the most unlikely places. First thing I did was head back to the Piazza San Marco, which was empty compared to yesterday (as you will see in the pictures). There were lots of red chairs still set up from three concerts that took place in the plaza last night. But it had such a peaceful, quiet feel to it, far different from the hustle and bustle of yesterday afternoon.
After that, I backtracked a bit and decided to try and find my way to the Rialto Bridge. That was a sheer delight! I walked through a maze of narrow passage ways, few of them populated with people, as both Venetians and tourists alike apparently sleep in late. I followed signs that were literally written in handwriting on walls, with arrows directing me around blind turns, left, now right, over a canal, now under. Finally, I emerged outside a vaporetto stop and there, to my right was the Rialto Bridge. It was 7:50 AM by the time I found the bridge and after taking some pictures, I had only a few minutes to get back to the hotel. I decided to wing it and I raced through the empty streets of Venice, following signs to San Marcos, which I eventually found. I made it to breakfast only 2 minutes late.
We had breakfast at the hotel on the recommendation of vickyandnorm and it was a very nice breakfast. We sat outdoors beside the canal. After breakfast, Mom wanted to see the Rialto bridge so while Dad hung back at the hotel, Mom and I walked to the bridge and took pictures. We then walked through more of Venice. I was taking turns at random, but I did end up finding (and taking pictures of) the McDonald’s that Michele told me about. We made our way back to San Marcos and since there was no line for the Campanile, I suggested we got to the top. It cost 6 Euros and we packed into an elevator that took us to the top of the tower (which, at one point centuries back, collapsed and was rebuilt). The views of Venice from up there were really spectacular. After the Campanile, Mom played with the pigeons for a while and then we headed back to the hotel.
Just before 1 PM, we checked out of the hotel and caught a water taxi to the pier where our ship, Princess Cruises Emerald Princess was docked. We passed right by the ship on the way in and it appeared massive! There are over 15 decks on the ship. It is 952 feet long (that’s longer than 3 football fields, or nearly one-fifth of a mile!) and weighs (or displaces) a hefty 113,000 tons! Boarding was easy. We dropped our bags off at the pier when we got out of the taxi, and walked into the terminal. No one was in line so will filled out a brief questionnaire, presented our passports and boarding passes, and were given our cards. From there, we walked onto the ship and into our staterooms. My stateroom (see the pictures) is on the Emerald Deck (8th floor) and has a large window overlooking the water. It is a “partially obstructed” view because there is a lifeboat off to one side but it barely interferes. Jen and Jason’s room is two doors down from me and more or less identical. Mom and Dad are one floor up and have a mini suite and balcony. There room is very nice!
Once I was settled in the room, I headed over to see Jen and Jason and then the three of us went up to the 15th deck to get something to eat. They had a buffet going in one of the restaurants. I had a BBQ’d beef sandwich, pasta, watermelon, strawberries and a cupcake. I also purchased a sticker that entitles me to unlimited soft drinks for the duration of the cruise. It was $50 but considering the cruise is 12 days and considering that at $3.50 a pop, I could spend the $50 in 2 days, I felt it was worth it.
After lunch we stopped at a bar and Jason and I got some Dos Equis. Then we headed up to Mom and Dad’s cabin. They have a mini suite and it’s really nice. Jen, Jason, Doug, Rachel and I ordered a anniversary gift package for them, which they received. It included a bottle of Dom Perignon, breakfast in their suite, 30 minute massages for each of them, among other things. So, of course, once we were there, we had a glass of champagne to celebrate our arrival. We sat on the balcony for a while. Then I had to run down to travel services to fix one of the tours I was booked on (they booked me on the wrong Athens tour). Apparently, the one I wanted is all booked up but I’m on the waiting list.
And that pretty much brings me to the present moment. Jen and Jason and I are going to explore the ship shortly. And later today or tomorrow, I will have more thoughts to post about Venice. But we are here, and so for all of you following along, Welcome Aboard!
*Wireless Internet costs $0.50/minute on the ship. So what I am doing is writing these posts in my cabin, offline, and then going to a location on the ship (there are many) that has wireless access and posting. This way, the only time I have to be online is when I am actually transmitting data. I will also reply to comments, but I have to work out a mechanism for doing so that is efficient so please be patient.