|This was my view when entering the Grand Canal via water taxi|
In June 2006, I had the incredible fortune to travel to Venice, Italy. My husband and I, along with our dear friends, Jack and Sharon Maze, took a Mediterranean cruise with Venice as our departing and arrival city. Jack and Sharon met us in Italy, traveling from their home in San Francisco to Munich with a connecting flight to Venice. Tony and I flew from Atlanta and connected to a flight from Paris. But let me preface this post with a little bit of information. Just weeks before our cruise departure, I fell on the deck steps just outside my kitchen door in the rain while wearing flip flops...not a smart move on my part. I broke the tibia and fibula in my left leg into 11 pieces...nothing like looking down and seeing the bone in your leg peeking at you through your skin...I almost went into shock. Thanks to my dear friend and neighbor Jenny (we call her "Jenny from the cul de sac" - she's more beautiful than J-Lo), as she immediately rushed over, with baby Michael in tow, and talked me through the wait for the ambulance. My daughter Sarah was trying to keep her composure, but has been known to faint at the sight of trauma...not good. After four hours of surgery, I was informed that I now was the proud owner of a leg with 9 screws and a steel rod. This led to a major dilemma - what to about a cruise that was to take us to Venice (not wheelchair friendly), Istanbul, Turkey (absolutely not wheelchair friendly), Dubrovnik Croatia and Bari Italy, not to mention the Greek Island of Olympia. But Jack convinced us that we could do it and off we went. I affectionately refer to this trip as "Europe by Wheelchair: What Can go Wrong and what the Travel Agents Don't Tell You". It was the trip of a lifetime from a different point of view and I will definitely be blogging about all the funny mishaps on the trip in the future...but want to stick with Venice for now.
When we arrived in Venice and finally got me, the wheelchair, six pieces of luggage, my purse, my flight bag and the crutches into the water taxi with two men operating the taxi who did not speak English, I remember thinking "I have never in my life seen anything like this, nor will I ever see a man made structure more awe inspiring or beautiful on this earth." The Grand Canal is like nothing that I can put into words that would justify its grandeur. I had tears in my eyes as we passed the most beautiful buildings ever to appear before me. The traffic of the gondolas, water taxis and other boats is so unique. Although Paris is known as the world's most romantic city, I do believe that Venice can certainly hold its own in that department, as well.
Because of my immobility, certain things were difficult, such as getting over the canals while seeing the city. There is no way to see Venice on foot without navigating the canal bridges so the routine became "one arm over Tony, the other arm over Jack and Sharon gets the wheelchair" and off we went...then go a few yards and do it again. Jack surprised me with a late night gondola ride through the canals. I have no idea what he paid the gondolier to take the gondola out after closing time, but I'm so glad that he did, as I was able to see inside the palazzos at night, all lit from the inside with spectacular chandeliers, the ceilings which seemed to rise forever and the shiny floors reflecting the light. It was indeed magical and I will never forget it...the moon was also full and the stars were smiling at us.
This trip will forever be etched in my memory as one of the greatest times of my life. My sweet husband Tony, who is now in heaven, used to refer to it as the trip where he ate the most and still lost 3 pounds. He worked hard, as dealing with me not being able to walk or even put weight on my leg proved to be a workout every day. He was a great sport about it and the trip wouldn't have been possible without our dear friends, Jack and Sharon, who helped with what was necessary to get me from point A to point B with a smile on their faces.
When I think of this trip to Venice, that midnight ride in the gondola on the Grand Canal is what I cherish most. These buildings, teetering on water, and often in decay, are some of the most beautiful architecture to be found in the world. I am so glad that I can say I saw it up close and in the light of the dark. Enjoy.
|Palazzo Barbaro - beautiful in its grand decay|
|Painting of interior of Palazzo Ducale|
|The Palazzo Ducale|
|Palazzo Ducale Interior|
|The Palazzo Fabricio Plessi|
|I can't remember if this is also the Palazzo Ducale - beautiful never theless|
|Palazzo Zenobio Room of Mirrors|
|Interior of Palazzo Barbaro|
|Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti -- reminds me of the late night ride in the gondola|
|Not a palazzo but a beautiful church - Tony and I went inside - it was so beautiful|
|The door to the Palazzo Rezzonico|
|The Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo|
|The Grand Canal|