It was a bit noisy last night, the campsite offers diddy frame tents with two camp beds in
which are great for the youngsters as they pass through for an overnighter. Unfortunately you sometimes get a noisy few, and we had a few last night. Still technically they didn't break the rules as the quiet hours here are from midnight to 07:00, and finally
quietened down at about 23:45.
We up early this morning, though not as early as I would have liked owing to my setting the time on the alarm clock but not then activating it. Never mind we
were away by about 07:50, timed it just right for a bus and as a consequence we were in Venice at 08:05. My thinking was to have a wander around at leisure making our way towards Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) where we were to meet up
for our tour of the Doge's Palace at 10:30 for 10:45.
On our arrival at St Mark's Square there were quite a lot of uniformed military people about plus a load of others who looked
like our British Legion. Some of the senior officers had loads of medals on their chests and I wondered where on earth they'd earned them.
Then we noticed that a large area of the Square
cordoned off with barriers. Satisfied that there was to be a parade or something before too long and not bothered whether we saw it or not we continued wandering around. I was hoping to get a better picture of the Church of Madonna della Salute across
the Grand Canal, but each time I had weaved my way to a new location I found it barred by the Gondoliers piers, and you can't set foot on them. Those boys have it all sewn up between them. Even the Rialto Bridge if difficult to get a clear picture of due to
the floating water bus piers, gondola piers and restaurant chairs and umbrellas. Never mind, we do what we can.
Then it was back to the square where the parade had started. I think they were
marines, since they had green berets. There were lots of speeches by high ranking officers and the local mayor which made me think this must be to celebrate one of three things. Either it was their 'National Surrender Day' the new EU 'It Would Have Been Nice
To Have Won - Just One' day of celebration or they were a bunch of new recruits who were having their final passing out parade. I think it was the latter because as during the ceremony they would all shout out in unison words or phrases at the appropriate
time, and as they marched off they were singing those tunes you see in the American war movies when the recruits and their Sergeant Major sing as they go along. Songs like:
"He's got as dog
named Uncle John"
"HE'S GOT A DOG CALLED UNCLE JOHN!"
"It's got a dick that's three feet long"
"IT'S GOT A DICK THAT'S THREE FEET LONG!"
You get the idea. I think they were new recruits who had just finished their period of brain
washing. They were followed off the 'Parade Ground' by the Italian British Legion and the band.
Then it was time for our tour of the Doge's Palace. We turned up at the stated time and place
as did an awful lot of other people. Fortunately a number went off with a French tour guide, another with a guide for a gondola ride. Our group had to wait longer than anybody else because our English speaking guide was running late. We were all wired up to
the individual sound system and rearing to go......to the back of the queue for bag searches. Despite it being clearly stated on the paperwork not to bring bags as they cause delays, our adorable fellow tourists knew better, and it took quite a long time before
we were all shepherded through the system and found each other on the other side.
I wasn't really taking in much of what the guide was saying bless him as the old chap spoke English with
a very Italian accent and we needed to concentrate really hard to make out what it was he was on about. Once we got going I wished I bought along my video camera. I knew we were going to see some very ornate interiors but I though bringing along my stills
cameras was pushing my luck as the guidebooks clearly state 'No Photography', but when we get going we find we could take photographs but we mustn't use flash, and it was one of those times when only a video camera could capture the size and magnificence of
such decor. Never mind, no point in dwelling on it, nor the fact that it was a whistle-stop tour because the guide needed to make up the time for his lateness and the long delay at bag-search (our group were the fourth waiting in line to be searched, this
is in spite of the paperwork suggesting we would be queue jumping - some hope). And to add insult to injury my online booking for two tickets for just the palace tour cost €72, and this grand sum got me two tickets with a face value of €16 each.
Not a bad little mark up that.
So the Palace then:
The Palazzo Ducale started life in the 9th century as a fortified
castle, but this and several subsequent buildings were destroyed by a series of fires.
From the early days of the Republic, the Doge's Palace was the seat of government, the Palace
of Justice and the home of the doge (a sort of President of an independent Venice - they wanted nothing to do with the mainland).
For centuries this was the only building in Venice
entitled to the name palazzo. The power of the Serenissima is ever present in the large and allegorical historical paintings which embellish the walls and ceilings of the splendid halls and chambers. These ornate rooms are testament to the glory of the Venetian
Republic, and were designed to impress and overawe visiting ambassadors and dignitaries.
The rooms we passed through were indeed ornate, and when taking pictures it was difficult to
show where the paintings on the ceiling ended and those on the walls began. We eventually got to walk across the Bridge of Sighs which is all enclosed, and was used to transfer prisoners from the Rooms of Justice to the dungeons in the prison on the other
side of the canal.
When the tour ended we started to make or way back stopping off for some lunch at a backstreet bar. We were only going to stop for a cold beer but then spotted the food
- well you have to don't you?
We managed to find our way around today without having to look at the map once. It's not that we're getting batter at finding our way around it's just that we
now rely on the direction arrows to various places marked up on the walls at street corners.
It's been another very hot day again with temperatures up in the thirties again. That's really
too hot to be enjoying yourself. When walking around in the narrow alleyways with tall buildings either side it's fine, but once you step out in to the sunshine you certainly notice the heat.
evening we have packed stuff away and wound the awning back in as we do every night because it is forecast rain and thunderstorms during the night and tomorrow morning. I'm quite looking forward to it actually, and hope that it cools everything down a bit.
The Chef tells me that she's seen a poster up at Reception advertising a 'Song & Karaoke' night. If there's a decent prize maybe I'll go up there and give them my rendition of "He's got a
dog called Uncle John".