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Monday, August 9, 2010

A Walk in The Evening

At around 5pm, we dragged the kids who by then had glued their eyes on the TV screen, to get up from the cozy bed.
Evening time wasn't that hot anymore, just nice to start a long walk into the city.

Soon when we walked out from the hotel, San Giorgio Island welcome us.

Venice, the world's only pedestrian city, is easily walkable. And the absence of cars makes this a particularly pleasant experience.

Again, told the boys not to go near them even though they waved them over.

The walkway along Grand Canal is full of small stalls that sell all sort of souvenirs, which includes, the Carnival Masks.

Each of the mask has its own characteristic and decoration, very beautiful.

Those oil painting are quite good, but the painter has no place can be seen.

We have bought plenty of those little masks last time, so we won't buy these anymore. Anyway, due to competition, they are not sold with expensive price.

Beautiful pendants...

End up, I bought this necklace + pendant from the little stall where William had accidentally broke one of his little displays. The owner didn't ask us to compensate though, so I thought I should bought something from him instead.

We told the boys they could pick anything which cost below € 10 as a souvenir. This is William's first choice, but way too expensive € 28. So, this purchase requisition was rejected.

Those are a bit cheaper, but it's a girl mask. Of course he said "NO, NO". Told them there should be a lot of different stuffs waiting for them ahead, so they agreed to take some time to pick for their souvenir.

So, we diverted our attention from those small stalls along the canal and continued our walk.

I didn't recall I had seen such a big cruise docking in Venice when I last visited here. Anyway, I wasn't too sure.

But I sure remember the gondolas and the gondoliers well. They create such a special scene for Venice...
Venetians and especially the gondoliers have highly conservative ideas about their society. For 900 years of tradition, all gondoliers must be male and most are born locals. There are only a few Germans in the business and a single lady, Alexandra Hai, who couldn't manage a for-hire license even after 10 years. She is officially banished to carry guests of her contract hotel.

Really, I didn't see any lady gondolier over here in Venice. But I did meet one in Macau Venetian, she told me she is from Italy.

The Bridge of Sighs, a popular tourist site in Venice, is undergoing the fate of many Italian tourist sites - scaffolding. The bridge connected the opulent Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) on St. Mark's Square with the prison of the Doges, in use since the 18th century. It's expected the scaffolding for restoration will be in place for 3 years.
A popular tradition is to kiss your lover while riding in a gondola under the bridge, as made famous in the movie "A Little Romance".

The street in the evening time is still as busy as ever....

Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) on Saint Mark's square. There is a guided tour named Secret Itinerary (€16), which will let you discover the part of the palace where the city's administration worked, as well as Casanova's jail and the wonderful five hundred year old roof structure. We didn't join, we prefer to spend more time walking in the city though.

St. Marco church, still as beautiful as I've last seen him before.
It's interesting to know that for Italian words, word that end with an "--o" is regarded as man, while word that end with an "--a" is regarded as woman. So, Venice (Italian : Venezia) is a lady, Milan (Italian : Milano) is a man, etc.

Piazza San Marco is one of the highlights of a visit to Venice. As with most churches in Italy, you must be dressed appropriately to be allowed in; this means no short skirts or bare shoulders.
The visit within the basilica lasts ten minutes. Waiting for entry into the basilica can last up to five or so hours and it may be wise to use alata.it to reserve your visit. Reservation costs € 1,00. Once you have a reservation you can take the group entrance on the left, where you give in the printout of your reservation. Admission to the basilica is free, however, the museum upstairs costs €3 and to view the high altar and treasury costs €2.

The 2 pillars, winged lion (left) & the statue of Theodorus (right), standing at the St. Marco Square

Pigeon feeding has become a MUST-DO activity at St. Marco Square. We promised the boys we would allocate more time for this in the next day.

Some wine bars at St. Mark's square. There are a few orchestra bands perform live music show for the guests.

The inner court yard of St. Mark's church.

Saint Mark's Basilica in the evening.

St. Mark's Clocktower (Torre dell'Orologio), 1860-1870 by Carlo Ponti. Having been closed for restoration for many years, the restored astronomical clock is now visible. The fascinating tour of the clock mechanism (and rooftop bell) can only be visited on a guided tour.
From the clocktower, we penetrated into the city. Many souvenir shops stand at both sides of the narrow street, but we just window shopping over there.

The watches are beautiful, prices not cheap too.

Murono glassware, famous industry in Venice. We had visited their factory when we visited Venice last time. It's amazing to see the man to blow and mend the half-liquid-half-solid silicon substance into the shape and color they want.

I used to be so addicted in the so-called 'cross-stitching' artworks when I was in my 20 s....When I looked at this, I feel that I can make this one if I can get the blue print and the threads. Too bad, I couldn't find it here or there in Venice.

I think these are apple strudel, one of my favorite desserts. But they don't look freshly-made to me, so I don't bother to try.

Venice has some wonderful restaurants, featuring the cuisine of the Veneto. However it is widely regarded that the restaurants in Venice serve food of a quality and in quantities much lower than anywhere else in Italy.

Diners should however be aware that for every genuinely wonderful restaurant or trattoria, there's another serving rubbish food at inflated prices, especially in the most touristed streets around San Marco. Some said : if there's a waiter outside pimping for business, it's probably best avoided.

Gondola ride is expensive. The gondolier may decrease the price if you ask, but they can also decrease the time as well. Thus, it's important to make an agreement on price and time before start. A good tip with the gondolieres is to bargain the price down as low as you can, then say that it's still too much and walk away. Two or three of them will chase after you, one after the other, each offering a lower price than the last. It's possible to knock €20-€30 off the price. Even then, be prepared to shell out €80.

Some guidebooks discourage tourists from asking for gondola price reductions. The oarsmen have an informal habit of cutting the most interesting and little-known parts from the journey path for "discount" customers. Reduced rate riders get much less marvel in exchange for a moderate price drop, which may not be worth it.

The time was nearly 6pm, and we started to look for a good place with a good deal for dinner. This place looks nice, but we wanted to look for more options, so we continued to walk further.

Not too long later, we bumped into this restaurant which is located just next to the Rialto Bridge.

The view in front of the tables look superb....

We were very tempted to be seated when the waiter invited us. Anyway, based on the previous experience, we think we better look for more options this time.

The restaurant as seen from the Rialto Bridge.

This is the other restaurant at the other side of the canal (the one we had had our romantic dinner many many years ago), facing the busy traffic in Grand Canal. Personally, I prefer the previous restaurant which is more private and serene.

Grand Canal as viewed from Rialto Bridge.

There are some shops on the Rialto Bridge, but nothing too special about it.

Overlooking that restaurant from the opposite side of the canal.

There is this restaurant with superb view, facing the Grand Canal.

The scene looks so romantic in the golden sun light.

We stayed here for about 15 minutes, then we continued our walk.

Standing next to the restaurant we had had our romantic seafood dinner before. It looks almost exactly the same like before.

At around 6.30 pm, we felt hungry and wanted to walk in to that restaurant with good view. Unfortunately, all the tables facing the canal were full. So, we have to look for other restaurant instead.

This mask is so cool !

After some searching, finally we settled down in a restaurant which is a bit far from the canal. Differ from most of the restaurants with the menu we can't understand, this one offered the "tourist menu" (written in English) which really looks good to us.

Oh yes, Vincent had found his 'souvenir' at a shop somewhere around here. A puppet which he can control his hands-legs-head movement.

Here come our dinner....surprisingly, the breads are very good, a bit crunchy outside, and very soft inside. Definitely not some "instant" buns. I wonder if the chef made this in house?

Salad came in a big portion, and very fresh too.

This clamp spaghetti taste absolutely wonderful ! Seriously, this is the best spaghetti we had had in this Europe trip.

And the deep fried squid + shrimp (one of the famous dish in Venice) is very very good too. It's even better than most of the tempura we eat from a Japanese restaurant.

And this beef burger, it's not ordinary fast food burger, but made-to-order burger. Though I don't fancy about beef, but I can tell this one is a real good one. Even the fresh fries is not ordinary fresh fries, its texture and taste is far more superior.

Although I don't know about the chef of this restaurant, I would like to thank him for the good foods that he had made for us. Really, I think one can feel the heart of the chef when he really put the effort in making it.
Those good foods didn't cost us a bomb, just around €45 only, which I think is very reasonable and worth it.

After dinner, the time was nearly 9 pm by then. We walked back to St. Marco Square, and finally, William found the 'souvenir' he wanted to buy. It looks like a little 'rocket' with a bright LED at one side, and can be launched into the sky by using a rubber ban.
I saw that cheap design and my guts instinct told me it was made in China. At first, the Indian-look seller said it cost €4 each, but l gave him very cold response. Then he offer €5 for 2, but I pretended I wasn't interested too. Lastly, he offered €2.5 for one. Since William was getting impatient, I got to close the deal lo.
(1 month after we came back from Venice, I saw those little 'rocket' being sold just outside of the China Futian checkpoint. Guess how much I got? RMB10 for 2, which is €1 for 2...hahha)

While they was launching the 'rocket', I walked near to the wine bar to appreciate the live music show the band was performing. Most of the songs the performers played are familiar to us, and they are very professional, each of them.

Despite of the good music and good ambiance, not too many people sit there for the night. I wonder why? Too expensive ?

A very high class restaurant at the upper floor.

At around 9.30 pm, we all felt tired. So, it's time to go back to the hotel for a good night sleeping.

It's such a good thing that our hotel is just about 7 min walking distance from St. Marco Square.
Another reason why husband choose this hotel was because it can be found easily. He read from the internet, "Tripadviser", that many tourists complained about how difficult the hotel can be found, and some of them had to use more than 1 hour to walk through the intricate narrow streets to find their hotel.
So, luckily we have a smart trip manager who know what to look for before departure. This will save a hell lot of troubles and time.

Our home-sweet-home in Venice.

The mask I had bought.

Before we turn off the light, I took a look from the window. There was a line waiting to go over the opposite side of the canal. I wonder what's up there?
All of us were so tired, that within a blink seconds, we fell asleep like dead pigs again.


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