Venice, May 9, 2006

We got off to a slow start today.  Katie was up at 10; & me at 10:30.  Too late for breakfast downstairs, so we ordered it sent to our room.  I had my prosciutto from the grocery store on a roll.  Our luck finally ran out with the weather.  It was pouring rain outside.  First on the do list was to visit the tourist exchange office so I could get a VAT tax refund on the glass I bought yesterday.  We oogled the gorgeous jewels in the shops around St. Mark's Square.

The square seems to be overrun w/ school groups today. Long lines of children holding hands so as not to get separated from their group. Another interesting observation is the protocol for large masses of people walking down narrow alleyways all carrying umbrellas. You either had to tilt them sideways or hold them up higher or down lower than the next person. The street vendors hit a gold mine selling rain ponchos & umbrellas. Since we were just up the street, we walked down to the Hotel Daniele.

 Italian Flag

We had heard how beautiful it was; & it really knocked our socks off.  The lobby & adjoining salon were breathtakingly gorgeous.  Massive chandeliers hanging from the ornate ceiling.  The 4 story lobby had a white & yellow glass skylight.  I felt conspicuous taking pictures like a tacky tourist; but I'm sure many more before me had done it too.  By now, it was after 2; & we were getting hungry.  Since we're celebrating my birthday a day early, we thought we'd splurge.  I wanted to revisit Sempione Restaurante since we enjoyed it so much last visit.  It's a confusing place to find; & after failing to follow the map, we asked for directions.  When we got there, they said we'd have to eat fast as they closed at 3.

We had a nice window table.  I had prosciutto & cantaloupe (extra sweet) & spaghetti w/ meat sauce.  Katie had the same along w/ a nice mixed salad.  It was an excellent meal.  She had a small glass of house wine for €.75.  I had coke from a glass bottle.  It really hit the spot.  It tasted like Coke used to taste back in the old days.  From there we decided to take the trip out into the lagoon & visit the Lido (island).

It's a really happening place in the summer.  The only beaches around are on the Lido; & they're covered from one end to the other by tiny cabanas.  For the fun of it, we hopped on a city bus & made the loop.  We got off on the main street which is quite cute.  Nice shops & sidewalk cafes.  We saw a courtyard area that had a massive canopy of the most beautiful white wisteria.

Across the street was the most ornate palazzo style hotel - frescoes & large mosaic pictures on the facade.  Even in the gray drizzle it was awe inspiring.

It was close to 5; so we got back on the vaporetto & headed to the hotel.  I needed one last dose of cappucino.  Since the famous Harry's bar is right next door to the hotel, we had to do the typical tourist thing & stop in.  I had cappucino (€6); & Katie had the obligatory Bellini (€15).  I was surprised to see how small it was (the bar & the drink size).  It was quite good, yet overpriced (as is everything here).

We were back to our room by 6.  Thought we'd get a jump start on packing.  We have so much breakable stuff to get home with; it's going to be a challenge.  We made dinner reservations for 8 in the hotel restaurant.

We were given a beautiful table by the window; & we had a fabulous meal.  We started w/ (huge) white asparagus baked w/ parmesan cheese.  Katie had an awesome fish soup w/ saffron.  It had tons of these huge chucks of fish.  I had a delicious cream of asparagus soup with curried shrimp.  She ordered one of the specials, orzo (which turned out to be a bust).  I had the most divine slivers of calves liver w/ sauteed onions & polenta.  We were stuffed to the gills.  So, now it's almost 11:30.  Katie has gone up to finish packing; & here I sit trying to get this last installment of the travel diary on this #x&**** Italian keyboard.  I can still hear the rain pouring down on the glass roof over my head.  We're hoping that it won't be like this in the morning when we leave for the airport.  Although I'll be glad to get home; I will be sad to leave this fascinating place.

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