During a two week cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean I had the chance to see places that I’d only read about or seen in movies. It’s an incredible experience walking in the footsteps of civilizations that were ancient before the Europeans even traveled to the Americas. Plus I learned some pretty interesting things that you don’t hear about in the history books.
We started in Venice where I found that it was not originally a series of islands built up and connected by myriad bridges. It was a normal island until 500 years ago when the Governor (or as they called them Doges), had a dispute with the head of the road builders guild. Rather than give in to pension demands he had all the roads dug up and replaced by canals. The dispute continues today between the mayor and the union leader of the road builders. I suspect the weight of the legal paperwork may be leading to some of the sinking of the city. And in America we think the Hatfields and McCoys are stubborn.
Our first night in Venice we met up with my cousin Janie, and her husband Dave, who got off our ship the day we got on. Small world. They did leave a bill behind for us that the Captain expected us to take care of. She later confessed that they bought us a bottle of champagne, but finished it themselves. That does sound like my mom’s side of the family.
Unlike some other large cities on our trip we felt pretty safe. Not that I would recommend flaunting your camera or carrying a large purse with a flimsy strap. Venice does however have a noted landmark that began with a crime. In 828 AD two Venetian merchants took it upon themselves to procure a trophy worthy of their fledgling republic. They stole the body of St Mark (he of The Gospel of St Mark) from Alexandria, Egypt. The stunning St Marks Basilica was constructed as a fitting resting place for the Apostle, and to flaunt the glory of the Venetian Republic. Based on sights we saw in Venice and other cities on our tour, it seems that some of God’s noted faithful servants traveled more after their death than before. But that’s a story for a future posting.
Our favorite guidebook for Venice was the DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Venice. Excellent maps, photos, and detail. Although I’m not sure how the fold out maps work in the Kindle version of the guide. It was great prep for our visit as well as an easy to use reference while we were there. I would also suggest checking the Rick Steves Europe: Italy’s Cities out from your library, or buying it through Amazon or PBS. He has two excellent episodes on Venice. You can also download free podcasts from Rick Steves’ website. Free is good. You’ll need the money for other expenses. I recommend the pizza.
Next Week: The Walled City and the Rocket
Disclaimer. Before telling your children to use this posting as a reference for their history class remember my tag line: Almost True Stories of Life
If you subscribe to this blog you may have received a posting covering several other cities. I pulled that one down due to technical difficulties in posting multiple pictures and the desire to cover each destination in more detail. My apologies for any confusion.