Part Two in chronological order:
We flew in to Venice via Zurich. The Venice airport is located on an island off the coast. We took a water taxi from there to the island of Lido where we spent two nights. As I was to discover, bicycles were everywhere. A lot of them looked like they had spent there whole life chained up outside. This one was cool because it had the generator set on the front wheel. Bikes ranged from old three speeds to modern city bikes equipped with full chainguards and skirt guards on the back wheel. Any fancy road bike must have been taken into the house to prevent theft. Just the commuters were outside.
We stayed in the Hotel Riviera while on the island. Nice place. I really like this picture - captures the essence of the place I think. Bikes, scooter and stylish hotel. If I was looking for a place for a nice, quiet extended vacation, Lido might be a good choice. Lots of people out in the evenings for a stroll or conversation.
We took an optional gondola ride while in Venice. A ride goes by the hour rather than per person. It's usually about 100 euros but Elizabeth negotiated a little better deal - everything seems to be negotiable in Italy - and with 5 or 6 people in each gondola, it worked out to 18 euros. Money well spent. The gondolas are beautiful. Each one reflects the owner's style and taste. They're dolled up with brass trim and fancy furniture inside. The one-sided propulsion is pretty cool. The boats are built asymmetrically to take into account the driver's position on the back. That way when he pulls on the oar the boat goes straight rather than to one side. I think the man said they have 425 gondola license's there.
We went to Florence next. We went to a cooking school and made our own dinner. Meatloaf and pasta, salad and bread. The meatloaf had boiled eggs down the center. Tasty stuff. The photo shows the lovely young lady who was in charge of our group snatching the bottle of olive oil away from Kevin before he drowned the meatloaf. Kevin is the man responsible for the trip. He did a helluva job getting things all arranged and making the trip possible. We've done a lot together over the last few years most notably the Detroit half-marathon. He's all aces, that boy. Thanks, Buddy.
The last photo is the dome designed by Brunelleschi. It's quite famous and the church upon which it rests is stunningly beautiful. One of the most notable buildings of the Renaissance, I was glad I had a chance to see it and now I need to read up on a lot of this stuff to get a better understanding of the building techniques and to put all of this in perspective. Amazing stuff in Florence.
They also have a football game they play annually in the Piazza. They truck in a bunch of sand and then have at it. It's kind of combination of rugby, soccer and mixed martial arts. There's a You Tube video here that explains the whole deal.
Beautiful city and the home of Michelangelo, by the way. We heard quite a bit about him as you would expect. More to come.