Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Missing the Boat

You can probably tell by the sign, we're in Venice, now. The choir will be singing at Basilica di San Marco. We were in Venice about 5 years ago so we were intent on doing some of the things we missed last time. Thank goodness that did not include touring the Doges Palace, or the Basilica, or anything at all that required being near Piazza San Marco. I read May was the shoulder season for tourism in Venice...if this is the shoulder, I'd hate to be here during the body! The fun thing is that you can walk several hundred yards and hear a festival of languages, the limitation is that you have to be really careful about pickpockets. We already had one of our group fall victim this trip. You also have to be pretty good at shoulder's a tough crowd and no one gives up their chosen path easily.

We take a tour trip to the islands of Murano, Barano, and Torcello. We're on a tour boat, but you can take one of the vaporetto as well. This tour includes a demonstration by one of the master glass blowers and of course the obligatory trip through the gift shop. After the first stop, Husband and I are wondering how bad it would be if we just missed the boat when it was ready to leave. We just didn't get to see much of Murano, really just the gift shop. 

Before we know it, we're on our way to Barano. It's early in the morning, so hardly anyone is there. None of the shop keepers seem to speak English, which I find me a chance to practice my Italian. Also, I'm finding more and more that I'm being addressed in Italian...must be the recently acquired tan; the result of the past several sunny and above 70 days.

After Barano, we're off to Torcello, a small island with a population of about 15, according to the tour guide. The island is really small and there is just one main attraction, a church that has served the community for several hundred years. Apparently, several celebrities frequent the island during the year and stay at one of the hotels. We walked by two facilities that looked like something out of an old Sophia Loren/Gregory Peck movie. 

After a visit to the church and a bit of a rest under the trees, we make our way back to the boat. The path is fairly long, and just about 50 yards short of the dock, we hear the boat whistle sound and watch the boat pull away from the dock without us.Was it in our subconscious to just miss the boat? I don't know about that...I do know that we grabbed the vaporetto that pulled into the dock not 30 seconds later and headed back to Barano to have lunch. We had a lovely picnic under a tree before leisurely making our way back to the hotel so Husband could get ready for that evening's performance.

We take what amounts to a limo across the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco  while the sun continues to shine and a gentle breeze begins to blow. Just like a limo, we find a sunroof that allows one of our troop the best headroom he's found in any of our transportation options so far.

We arrive at the dock and make our way to the piazza. Once again, we look like a line of penguins, but interestingly, this doesn't seem to cause the rumble of curiosity it did when we made our way to our venue in Roma.

Oops, we can't get into the Basilica to practice! There we stand at the edge of the piazza and Byron, the conductor, basically directs the group in what I suspect is Piazza San Marco's first flash mob. It didn't take long to attract a crowd. In fact, the crowd grew exponentially the longer the group sang. It was fun to watch the faces of the crowd as they marveled at their good luck for being in just the right place to catch this impromptu performance. They all have quite a story to tell when they get home!

No pictures allowed in the Basilica; this was a full Mass. The Rosary was said prior to the Mass and I found that I had learned the second part of the Hail Mary in Italian by the end of the recitation...Santa Maria, Madre de Dio...etc. Oh, the sound! The voices just reverberated off the walls. It took my breath away and once again brought tears to my eyes. 

We ended the evening on the quai and waited for the arrival of our "limo" while most of us took the opportunity to indulge in one more gelato for the day.

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