04.07.2010 95 °F
It’s been a whirlwind two days, but we are finally happily on the Ruby Princess, our cruise ship to the Mediterranean. We are so happy to be on this gorgeous ship and ready for more adventures!
Yesterday morning seems like years ago! I slept in and recovered while Kev went for a run in Hyde Park, then we ate brunch and walked around London a bit. I thought I was taking us to Kensington Gardens, but it actually was the Green Park (how original!), which backs right up into Buckingham Palace, which was perfect! We were excited to see it, although we didn’t get to walk up to the guards and poke them or anything The park was beautiful and very crowded with people picnicking, strolling, etc.
After our walk, we took a taxi to the train station, where we took the Gatwick Express to Gatwick. The train was quick and painless, and we got checked in right away. We spent our time in the British Airways Lounge, which was very nice and had plenty of food and drinks. Then we took our plane to Venice, which was uneventful … all the adventure would come shortly!
Our flight was supposed to land at 7:10, giving us plenty of time to get to dinner on the Grand Canal in Venice, but it was about 45 minutes delayed – no problem. In Venice, there are no cars allowed, so the only way to get from the airport to the city center, and anywhere within the city you want to go, is by public water bus or private water taxi (which is very expensive!) We walked up to the water bus stand just as the last one was pulling away, but we bought tickets for the next, which would leave in 30 minutes. It was very hot (~90 degrees) and there were mosquitos EVERYWHERE, so it was not the most pleasant wait, but we stuck it out. However, once the bus pulled up, the driver had some messed up way of allowing people on (by the stop at which you were planning to disembark), and by the time he got to our stop, there were only 2 places left on the boat. We were literally next in line, but another couple squeezed ahead of us at the last minute, so we got left behind, and had to wait another 30 minutes. Kevin was NOT happy, to say the least! He says he is going to write Alilaguna (the water bus “monopolist”) a letter explaining how poor their operations are (By the way, the 2nd picture here is from later, just trying to show what a water bus looks like). Once we got on the second water bus, it was 90 minutes to our stop (again, it was still hot!) When we got off the boat, we had directions printed out to our hotel, but the streets are poorly labeled and it was hard to find. We were each carrying a carry-on bag, plus 3 suitcases (since we had to split due to weight), and walking up and down bridges, across canals, and through dimly-lit alleys with sketchy Italian men following us was NOT Kev’s idea of a good time. But … we got there!! It was after 11:30 when we got into our hotel room, so we decided to eat some packaged cookies and crackers that we’d picked up in the British Airways Lounge for dinner!
I think I kept Kev up half the night coughing, but the good news is that I am finally starting to feel better!! Thanks for all the well-wishes. I got a little extra rest this morning while Kev went to the gym, then we started our whirlwind tour of Venice. In case you don’t know, Venice is one of my FAVORITE cities, so I had high hopes that Kev would like it, too. Let’s just say … it’s not his absolute favorite, BUT I think a lot of that had to do with the weather. Today was HOT (~95 degrees), and Venice’s canals and alleys do not allow breeze – the stagnant air just melts you. So I’m blaming his less-than-stellar reaction on the weather. He DID love a lot of the buildings and architecture we saw, and really enjoyed the activities we did, so I think there’s hope Let me walk you through the day…
We started by walking to San Marco Square and Basilica. Unfortunately, it was under a good bit of construction, but it was still beautiful to see and so much fun to be there. We didn’t let pigeons land on us this time! We then spent time walking around the city, which is so gorgeous and incredibly unique. It’s so much fun to walk over bridges, through historic alleyways, and over canals. There were TONS of people all over the place, and it was fun to just watch, stop into random cathedrals and shops, and explore. By the way, do you notice my red, white, and blue outfit? It was the best I could put together! Happy 4th!
After walking around, we hopped on a gondola, which was so much fun! It is pretty hard work to row a gondola, and there is a TON of “traffic” in some of the more popular canal passageways, so these guys earn their money! While we were in the gondola, we saw a water ambulance speed by, and it really makes you realize that this city is ENTIRELY a water-based city. Pretty crazy! We had a lot of fun in the gondola and took a lot of pictures but here are a few…
Because we didn’t get to have dinner by the Canal last night, lunch by the Canal and Rialto Bridge today was an absolute must, and lived up to all of our expectations! We were literally sitting one table away from the Canal, and it was fun to watch all the gondolas breeze by. We had to start with caprese salad, which was incredibly fresh and delicious. Kev got the lasagna, which was much better and more fresh than it looks in this picture, and I got an Italian chicken salad (Mom, I thought of you saying “never eat anything larger than your head,” but I just couldn’t help it!) Lunch was very romantic, delicious, and fun! We spent a while walking around Rialto afterwards.
After lunch, we went on a quick Murano glass tour. The glass they spin right here in Venice is absolutely amazing, and they do it so quickly and seemingly effortlessly! The beautiful creations they make are so much fun to look at, and we really enjoyed seeing so many of them.
I love Venice!
By this point, we were both incredibly hot – our clothes were thoroughly soaked, which is not good when you’re wearing a white skirt! We scooted back to our hotel, grabbed our luggage, and made our way back through the alleys to the water bus stand. We had to wait 22 minutes in the uncovered heat for this one, but we easily made it on the first bus, so we called it a raging success! We pulled up to the Ruby Princess (our ship), checked our luggage, and boarded, which was again relatively painless. We were so hot that all we wanted was a shower, so we did just that. Our room, by the way, is AMAZING! Because it is our honeymoon, we got upgraded to a room at the back of the ship with a BALCONY! It is going to be amazing to look out of as we sail through the Mediterranean and leave some of our ports of call. The ship is also incredible! It is set up very similarly to the last one, with some different decorations. We gave ourselves a full tour today and saw as much as we could, but we didn’t take many pictures – we have 11 more days to reveal them to you! We did snap a few of the July 4th decorations they have around here (a lot of the passengers seem to be American, and the age range is definitely more what we’re used to than on the last cruise! I’d say we’re on the young side of average here, because there are several families with kids!)
We couldn’t start a cruise without a huge feast for dinner, so strap yourselves in. We started with Thai coconut chicken chili soup (for me), caprese salad (for Kev – no matter that he’d had it 6 hours before!), and shrimp cocktail to share. Then we had tomato-cucumber gazpacho (Kev), house salad (me), and we each had Chateaubriand for an entrée. Everything was amazing! We’ve decided already that the food on this cruise is better than the last one, even! Wow! We finished up with an unphotogenic fruit salad (me), and chocolate fudge peanut butter pie (Kev). All in all, a delicious dinner!
After dinner, we wandered around a bit more, then headed back to write this monster of a blog post. We want to get a lot of sleep and try to fully recover before officially starting our journey tomorrow! We miss you all and Happy 4th of July!!!