After taking some snap shots in front of the ship with our friends we said goodbyes. They started off to Northern Italy and Austria while we were to stay the day in Venice. After we parked our bike in the red garage, we picked up some essentials and head for the hotel. We were overwhelmed by the distinctive beauty of the place, it took us some time to start for the hotel. Upon arrival we were informed that check in was at 1430 but unfortunately it was only 900! So we were forced to drop our bags at the hotel lobby and start touring Venice in full motorcycle gear, not the most comfortable outfit for the long walks ahead.
After much walking, wandering around the numerous canals in awe, we followed the signs for Rialto San Marco and crossing San Paolo we arrived at the famous Rialto Bridge. This rock bridge, made in 1588 has a height of 28m. We stopped there, marveling the spot. As beautiful as the bridge is by itself, more so is the view you have over the Grand Canal.
Afterwards we walked towards San Marco square. This is the political and religious epicenter of Venice. It is indeed quite hard to imagine that here used to be just the garden of a convent crossed by a ρέμα. The byzantine Basilica is towering over the square and leaves the spectators thunderstruck with it's beauty. It was built purposefully this way, to convey the power of the city of Venice and to be a fitting resting place for San Marco. Right next to the Basilica is the Palace of the Duke, a marvelous mixture of renecanse and gothic architecture, il Palazzo Ducale was the official residence of 120 Dukes who governed Venice from 697 to 1797. In front of the Basilica there is the bell tower ( ex lighting house, observatory, and at times torture chamber). You can with the elevator go to the top at 98.5 m height and enjoy an unobstructed view of the city and the lagoon. Moreover the square is full of various museums and nice cafe where in the evening, you can enjoy live music from orchestras equipped with violin, acordeon and piano. Each orchestra plays in succession creating a magical ambience. The cafe that stands out due to its long heritage is cafe Florian which is famous for being the first European cafe!
Unfortunately the long quest which were already in place despite being early morning, prohibited us from visiting museums and churches given that we had only a day at our disposal. We opted instead to walk and take in most of the scenic city. Being a city easily reachable by plane we can still visit the museums and churches in a future trip. After wandering for hours in the small side streets, we had a proper italian capuccino enjoying the view of the grand canal full with gondolas. Later we took the small boat (functioning as public transport) and got off at the railroad station near our hotel. The view during the trip was breathtaking.
We arrived fresh to our room which was decorated in classic Venetian style. After a long bath (after almost two days on the road) we dozed off. In the evening we went out again for a walk. This time we went through a different route to reach San Marco square from the southern part of the city crossing through Santa Croce and Dorsoduro a without stopping at numerous churches, museums and galleries along the road. Arriving to the Grand Canal we crossed from the big wooden bridge and we arrived in the greater San Marco area. We stopped and started haggling for a ride with a γόνδολα. As it was Saturday and full season the best price we could manage was 110 euro for a San Marco - Rialto return trip. I wanted to do this ride whatever the price as I had envisaged for a while this ride during which I proposed to my girlfriend Dimitra.
The rest of the evening was in romantic mood with a walk at the square, dinner at Rialto and finally returning to the hotel, ice cream at hand. It was a magnificent first day, just like we had imagined it.
* Hotel Belle Epoque: I was looking for a hotel in Venice and near the parking not having to carry luggage a long way. This one was situated conveniently near the railway station and was amongst the most affordable in the area (110 euro/ night double). If we disregard that checkin was at 1430 instead of 1300 they said on the internet site, we were satisfied all in all. The room was very nice, clean and in style. Breakfast was nothing special. You can find it at www.hotelbelleepoque.it