India’s international flights opening soon???..Facing reality…More 2013 photos from Venice…

With the hot sun, the massive crowds, the going rate of $125 to $150 a couple, and, as evidenced here, the gondola traffic jam, we decided to forego the 30-minute ride in the congested canals.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from June 17, 2013, while in Venice, Italy. See the link here for more details.
Hard to resist. Fun to see.

More news on COVID-19 in India at this time:

From this site:
“MAHARASHTRA’S (state where Mumbai is located) Covid-19 death tally surged by 1409 on Tuesday, taking its total toll to 5,537, following a data reconciliation process initiated by the state government. Of 1409 deaths, only 81 deaths were reported on Tuesday. The remaining 1328 deaths have occurred since March and have been added to the numbers now.” 

 Inside the courtyard of the Universita Ca, Foscari was a decoration made of trash.

The above numbers contradict those we’ve discussed below taken from the Worldometer tracking site. We often wonder how impossible it is for the records to be accurate under these dire circumstances. But, what else do we have to determine the risks in various countries?

Leonardo da Vinci exhibit was being held at the museum.

In other news, we’ve heard numerous comments on TV news regarding the possibility of international flights resuming in India. A discussion will be initiated in July by the powers-that-be. 

Water buses along the Grand Canal.
With June more than half over, it’s possible we could know something in 3 to 4 weeks. Based on our reading and research, our expectations leave us wondering if it could be 4 to 6 months until international flights resume.
Tight quarters.  Lots of boats.
As India’s virus case counts continue to rise, we’re doubtful the lockdown will be released any sooner than September. Each hour, as I walk the corridors, I stop and peer out a window at the end of one of the corridors, the only window on my walking course.
This was as close as we got to the gondolas.
From morning to late afternoon, I can see an area where numerous men congregate to drink tea and talk. Few of these men, as they sit nearby, are wearing masks or social distancing.
Murano glass figurines from a shop window.
The above comment is not intended to single out “men.” It’s purely a cultural aspect of life in India. Women work, shop, and keep the home, while many men congregate in public areas, whether working or not.
Clock Tower.
This fact alone may prevent India from reducing its number of cases for a long time to come. It may be only possible through “herd immunity,” which may take one or two years to achieve. For that reason alone, even if we could go outside, we would not. We don’t want to take the risk of being included in the tally of herd immunity.
Piazza of St. Mark’s, impressive, eh?
Based on tracking of COVID-19 on this site which we’ve been watching daily, as of yesterday, India had more new deaths than any other country in the world. With a total of 2006 new deaths, compared to the #1 country globally, the USA has the highest number of cases and deaths, which had 849 recent deaths. 
Basilica di San Marco.
India now is #4 in the world for the most number of cases and deaths. With the massive population of over 1.3 billion, it’s entirely conceivable that India will surpass the US in the number of cases and fatalities and reach the dreadful #1 position in the world. The total population of the US is 328 million, almost one-quarter of the people of India.
A great shot at every turn.
Are we prepared to wait this out? At this point, yes. We’re holding our own. We hope all of you are as well.
Views along the waterway on the return to the ship.

BTW, if you are looking for an engaging, addictive, binge-watching series, search for Australia’s “A Place to Call Home.” It has 60 hour-long episodes. We love every moment. It’s available on Acorn TV on Amazon Prime, which offers a one-month free trial. 

Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2020:

Ruins of a castle on the drive to Balleyconneely while in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Looking back to Venice Italy on this date 7 years ago…Then on to Tuscany for three months…

As our ship made its way to the port of Venice, our mouths were agape in surprise at the historic treasure before our eyes.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from June 16, 2013, while in Venice, Italy. See the link here for more details.
As shown in today’s photos, while on a cruise on this date in 2013, we spent a day in Venice, Italy, a location we’d looked forward to visiting as we considered some of the world’s most exciting points of interest.
We noticed one historic building after another.

The memories of that day are as evident in our minds today as if it was only months ago, not the entire seven years from this date. We’re often surprised at ourselves for remembering finite details of touring renowned locations such as this. But, we found ourselves in awe of this and, of course, many other such sites throughout the world.

Many of our readers have written to us over the years sharing their experiences in places such as Venice, and in each case, they’ve loved it too. No doubt, we did as well, although one missing element has been our lack of interest in shopping.

The waterways were exactly as we had perceived them, crowded with a seemingly never-ending maze of canals.

In my old life (before traveling the world), I would have been over the top with excitement to shop in a place like Venice. The colorful little shops lined the narrow walkways with a plethora of tourist-type and specialty products.

Whether it was hats, scarves, leather goods, artwork, or jewelry, the stores, with relatively high prices from paying high rents to have the opportunity to be located in this area of constant tourist traffic, all was appealing to the eye.
Over the years, we’ve found a degree of enjoyment simply from window shopping as we did in Venice so long ago.

Check out the crowds!

In 2013, cruise ships were allowed to dock at a nearby pier that only required a short shuttle ride and about a 15-minute walk to arrive at the canal city. Over the years, that has changed as indicated in this article below from this site:

“The Italian government has announced it will be rerouting cruise ships away from central parts of Venice. This move follows a long campaign by residents to stop large ships from docking in the Unesco-listed city.

Every direction we turned, there was another waterway.

On Wednesday, Italy’s transport minister Danilo Toninelli said that cruise ships would be diverted away from their current route, reported the Financial Times, therefore banning them from entering the historic grand canal.

Toninelli said he had been looking at temporary ports “to avoid witnessing more invasions of the Giudecca by these floating palaces, with the scandals and the risks that they bring.”

What a view!

In 2018, 502 cruise ships brought 1.56 million passengers to Venice, contributing to the overcrowding already swamping the narrow canals and walkways.

Meanwhile, there are environmental concerns about the impact of ships passing through the Venetian Lagoon and along the Giudecca Canal.”

The buildings along the canals were often unique, but more were attached.

In June, a collision between 2,150-passenger ocean cruise ship MSC Opera and Uniworld river cruise ship The River Countess (four passengers were injured) heightened calls for a ban. Italy’s environment minister Sergio Costa tweeted that the incident confirmed ships must not pass the Giudecca area.

Next month, some cruise ships will dock at the Fusina and Lombardia terminals away from the city center but still within the lagoon. However, from next year a third of cruise ships will be rerouted away from the city.

The cathedrals were breathtaking.

A plan to reroute cruise ships dates back to 2017 when an Italian governmental committee decided that cruise vessels weighing 96,000 tonnes or more would be prevented from docking in the lagoon in front of St Mark’s Square.”

After spending several hours walking the streets of Venice with tired legs, we decided to take a water taxi back to the ship. I imagine that in recent years, passengers were being transported to the area by buses or taxis. 
As our ship continued to our docking location.
I’d be curious to hear from any of our readers who’ve visited Venice by cruise ship about how they arrived at the canals in the past few years. Feel free to post a comment at the end of today’s post, anonymously if you prefer.
Our favorite points of interest while on the self-guided walking tour was visiting St. Mark’s Square and the Bridge of Sighs. We’d considered embarking on one of the romantic gondolas in the canals, but the price at that time was INR 9480, US $150, per couple for a 30-minute ride, more than we cared to spend. 

All these photos were taken from our ship as it maneuvered through the main channel approaching the cruise ship pier in Venice.
This type of tourist activity generally doesn’t appeal to us, especially when we notice the gondolas were stopped in “traffic” for extended periods. It made no sense to spend that kind of money to sit in a gondola. It may have been more worthwhile in the evening, but our visit occurred during the daylight hours.
One of the most exciting parts of that day was when our ship sailed into the magnificent Venetian Grand Canal when we had our first glimpse of the canal city. Our cabin was on the ship’s right side, allowing us a bird’s eye view as we entered the area. 
As we approached the pier for the cruise ships, we noticed they were lined up back to back.
At times, our “occasional” readers may presume we only get excited about wildlife and nature. However, we’ve experienced many stunning locations, such as Venice, that will permanently be emblazoned in our minds over the years.
For the balance of our first published posts regarding our visit to Venice, please click here. Tomorrow, we’ll share Part 2 of our visit to Venice. Please check back.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2019:

In Connemara, Ireland, this horse was fed by passersby when she got as close as she could when we stopped for a photo. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2 Venice…One more city knocked off our dream list….Also, update on our new home…

With the hot sun, the massive crowds, the going rate of $125 to $150 a couple and as evidenced here, the gondola traffic jam, we decided to forego the 30 minute ride in the clogged canals.

Today, we’ll post our remaining photos of Venice, first updating our current status which we’ll write about tomorrow in more detail, with much enthusiasm.

A simple doorway renovated for modern day.

We arrived in Boveglio, Lucca, Tuscany yesterday around 5:00 pm after a long and difficult drive from Venice, estimated by Google Maps to be a 3 1/2 hour drive which ultimately proved to be a 4 1/2 hour drive.

Another old door.

Reading road signs in Italy is different than reading road signs in the US. Its not about the language difference since there’s nothing to reading a word written in Italian, following a map. The difficult part was the fact that roads are not clearly marked. One can drive for a half hour before seeing a sign that confirms (or not) that one is on the correct highway.

Hard to resist. Fun to see.

Plus, there is considerably confusing maneuvering through small towns along the way to stay on the correct road.  We only had to turn around twice, luckily catching it before we got too far.

Inside yet another square on our lengthy walk to St. Mark’s Basilica.

Thank goodness for Google Maps and our MiFi which worked great providing us with a good signal along the highway, during the last hour. The mountainous drive from Florence (Firenze) to Boveglio took us through 29 tunnels!

 Inside the courtyard of the Universita Ca Foscari was a decoration made of trash.

The scenery inspired me to take photos but the massive guardrails prevented getting any good shots. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stop to take photos with no shoulder or rest stops on the many toll roads we traveled.

 The Universita Ca Foscari entrance.

As for the rental car…I stood in line for one entire hour at the Budget Rental window inside the Marco Polo Airport while Tom waited outside with the luggage. Meeting a friendly couple from Chicago while in line, the wife was so kind to go outside to watch our luggage while Tom came inside to show his driver’s license.  

Leonardo da Vinci exhibit was being held at the museum.

Tom will be the sole driver of the tiny Fiat six speed vehicle. I must admit I’m not the best driver (OK.  I said it.). Although in an emergency, I could drive a stick shift but it has been 30 years since my last attempt. With the long drive “UP UP UP” to our summer home in Boveglio, with NO guardrails, no thank you.

More delectable looking confections.

We awaken this morning in a mountaintop paradise, the sound of nearby church bell chiming on the half hour and hour (not always consistent), in a 17th century renovated stone house in the true Tuscan style and we’re once again relishing in our unique surroundings, filled with contentment and joy.

Lots of activity.

Tomorrow, we’ll post photos, tell you the sacrifices we must make while here, missing some of our familiar creature comforts and the enhancements to our lives that only this step back in history can bring.

Water buses along the Grand Canal.

I’ll tell you one tidbit now…they don’t take credit cards in this area for gas, groceries or restaurants.  Last night, starved after our long day, we found our way to the tiny town of Bennabio where the owner, Alessandro, of the town’s only restaurant Il Cavallino Bianco, opened an “account” for us, telling us we can pay our bill before we leave Boveglio in two and a half months. 

 As done in France, passersby over the Grand Canal at Ponte delle Accademia, place locks on
the bridge posts as a token of love, writing their names on the lock and throwing the key into the water.

Having used most of our Euros in the past month with no nearby bank and it also being Sunday, we appreciated not only a perfect meal (he cooked exactly following my restrictive diet) but speaking no English, we somehow managed to communicate. 

This huge wood carving of a face was interesting.

During dinner, the owner of the local grocery store across the street from the restaurant stopped by to also extend credit to us for our time here.  It certainly pays to know Lisa and Luca, the owners of our summer home, popular and well loved residents of this quaint community.  More will follow tomorrow.

More buses on the waterway.

So here are our remaining photos of Venice, now almost seemingly a distant memory as we immerse ourselves in our new home, soon heading to the town of Benabbio to grocery shop in the tiny store owned by the lovely Vivienne. Photos to follow!

Here’s the rest of our Venice photos!

Sebastiano T. Italy location.  Campo Santo Stefano.
Ah, here’s another pharmacy!
Ornate décor over doorways was appealing.
Many old apartments buildings lined the way to the square.
The food,  feast for the eyes, let alone the palate.
Tight quarters.  Lots of boats.
Statue of Marco Polo.
This was as close as we got to the gondolas.
A square we entered when trying to make our way to St. Mark’s visible in the background.  We walked for two hours to get to St. Marks over many bridges, down many narrow streets.
More French looking than Italian, this window display of masquerade items was beautiful.
Murano glass figurines from a shop window.
Clock Tower.
Piazza of St. Mark…pretty impressive, eh?
Taking photos of people taking photos.
People and pigeons, everywhere.
Basillica di San Marco.
Tricky photo.  Murano glass sailboats taken outside the store with the reflection of Piazza of St. Mark reflecting in the glass creating a cool backdrop.
Outdoor restaurant in the Piazza of St. Mark.  Notice the attire on the waiter in the center.
Basilica di San Marco.
More detail on the Basilica di San Marco.
Clock at the Venetian Arsenal.
Gold angels at the top Basillica di San Marco.
Another view of the Basillica di San Marco.
Piazza San Marco.
Side view of Basillica di San Marco.
Piazza San Marco.
Basillica di San Marco.
Atop the Venetian Arsenal.
One of the many structures at the top of Basillica di San Marco.
We got a better view of this statue on our return trip, Island of St. Giorgio Maggiore, Chiesa Di San Giorgio.
Shuttles lined the docks to return passengers to one of the many giant ships at the port.
A great shot at every turn.
Waiting at the dock for our shuttle to depart.
Not appearing to be rough, the waterway was rough due to the boat traffic.
Views along the waterway on the return to the ship.
As the Norwegian Spirit shuttle boat took off to return us to the ship.

Part 1 Venice…One more city knocked off our “dream list”…

As our ship made its way to the port of Venice, our mouths were agape in surprise as a feast before our eyes.

In writing our post yesterday we mentioned our busy day was subject to change and change we did! After all, we’ve determined that flexibility and adaptability are a way of life these days.

One historic building after another.

Running into our friends Nicole and Gerry shortly after we posted our 48-hour schedule, they asked if we’d be interested in getting off the ship earlier in the day to wander around Venice with them. 

The waterways were exactly as we had perceived them, crowded with a never-ending in a maze of canals.

They offered to get maps, charting out our day inquiring as to various transportation options were available to get us on our way to the much desired St. Mark’s Square location. With so much on our minds to accomplish in such a short time, plus greatly enjoying their company, we opted to let them take over the planning for the day and evening while we’d joyfully follow along.

Look at the crowds!

We agreed to meet at 2:45 pm, allowing us ample time to first lounge by the pool plus get our packing out of the way. Mission accomplished. We loaded up our passports, a bottle of water and a camera and off we went.

Every direction we turned there was another waterway.

Our goal was to walk the streets of Venice traipsing across endless bridges over the canals, see as much as possible, taking photos along the way, ultimately ending up in St. Mark’s Square after which an additional 15-minute walk we’d work our way to the Norwegian Spirit boat shuttle in a designated area along the shore, Riva Degli Schiavoni.

What a view!
The buildings along the canals were often unique, but most were attached.
The cathedrals are breathtaking.

The shuttle arrived every 30 minutes, would bring us as close as possible to our ship upon return, requiring another 15-minute walk.

As our ship continued on to our docking location.

Unbelievable shops, restaurants, hotels, apartments, and massive historical buildings lined our way on the lengthy rather vigorous three-hour walk.  Not quite the three-hour walk as in Petra, Jordan but nonetheless, quite a walk on a yet another very hot and crowded day.

Need I say, we have no regrets.

 All these photos were taken as our ship maneuvered through the main channel approaching the cruise ship pier in Venice.
Moving furniture is often done by boat in Venice, the preferred method of transportation
As we approached the pier for the cruise ships, they were lined up back to back.

Arriving at the pier in Venice an hour earlier than expected, we took our time getting off the ship to meet Nicole and Gerry for what proved to be a very interesting and enriching day.

We wondered if there would be a “parking spot” for our ship.  We squeezed into a good spot.

Today, as I write this, we must get off the ship in a half-hour, leaving many more photos of Venice to include tomorrow when I complete the Venice series while in our new home in Tuscany, busily unpacking and settling in.

Back tomorrow!