Second Day in Venice, special and memorable

Friday morning I took the hotel’s private water taxi to St Mark’s Square.  It was a 30-minute ride, and the sky began to turn from gray to blue, the beginning of a warm, beautiful day.

Dave peeking out from our hotel room, at me in the water taxi waiting to depart
From the water taxi, a typical side canal in Venice

From St Mark’s Square, which was filled with tourists, I walked a short distance to the Westin Europa and Regina Hotel.  Here is the backstory on why I wanted to go there.

In 1953 my mom and a friend went on a tour of Europe.  It was arranged by a travel agent in Portland, and Mom kept a journal of their trip, which she typed up and saved.  A couple years ago she found the journal, and gave it to me to read.  One paragraph really stood out to me, from their arrival in Venice:

“… we gently floated along in the blue (and chilly) twilight (7:30) looking at the many curly towers against the soft, greenish-toned sky.  And then Hotel Europa Britainnia.  Great guns, what a place.  We went up elevators, and along corridors and then up stairs and along more hallways finally ending up at room 101.  Pat and I expected a garrett in back by now.  But:  a room done in gold brocade, on the corner of the grand canal overlooking a delightful church just across the canal.  Three huge French-door windows and a balcony complete with chairs.  All this on the third floor just over the canal and a gondola stop.  And a huge tiled bathroom with tub large enough for high diving.”

From the hotel website, a current room that sounds like the description from 1953

After reading it, I got curious about whether the hotel was still there, so I Googled it and found that it exists today as the Westin Europa and Regina.  Here are some pictures of it as it is today.  Mom, let me know if anything looks familiar:

The “Europa” part of the hotel, from the canal side
Looking across the Grand Canal at a cathedral, from the deck of the Europa
Front entrance of hotel Westin Europa and Regina

After walking around inside the hotel, taking a bunch of pictures, and looking for and not finding room 101, I went to the front desk and explained about Mom’s stay there 61 years ago.  The clerk said there is no room 101 now.  He also said the hotel has a “no photographs” policy, so I was glad I took the pictures before asking.

I walked around and shopped a little, then went back to the hotel to relieve Dave of the arduous task of lounging around the suite all morning.

Gondoliers texting and checking email
Another bride (groom nearby but not in photo) taking pictures in Venice. Our tour guide explained that he doesn’t think they got married in Venice, because it’s always just the bride and groom and photographer(s), but no family or wedding party. He thinks they honeymoon there, and take their wedding attire to dress up for photos. On this trip we have also seen bridal couples taking pictures in London phonebooths, on river cruises on the Seine, and now in Venice.
Kayakers in Venice canal. These were the only ones I saw, so it’s not like there are a lot of them.

At 2:30 Dave and I took the hotel water taxi, and this time we were the only passengers (it was full with 12 when I took it in the morning), and the boat driver took a different route, so I got to see Venice from clockwise and counterclockwise.  He dropped us at St Mark’s Square, and we went to the cathedral.

Entrance to St. Mark’s cathedral in Venice.
From the upper level of St. Mark’s, overlooking the square and Grand Canal
Intel Inside: An old hymn book in St. Mark’s Cathedral
The tomb of St. Mark, as in Jesus’ disciple, author of the book of Mark in the Bible!

Memorable moment of Friday:  While we were standing in the cathedral at St Mark’s tomb, we heard voices singing in harmony, in an unfamiliar language that was not Italian.  The words sounded like Japanese, and the tune I recognized as a hymn, “I’d Rather Have Jesus Than Anything.”  We followed the sound and in a side nave of the grand cathedral was a group of Japanese celebrating Mass.  We sat down with them and observed, and even though we didn’t understand any of the words, it was very moving.

We met the couple from Denver, who we met at last night’s tour, for dinner at a nice restaurant along a canal, recommended by tour guide Alessandro, and enjoyed visiting with them, a relaxing end to our second and last day in Venice.

Sunset from a vaporetto (water bus)
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One thought on “Second Day in Venice, special and memorable

  1. What a lovely journey to Venice – so very special and you write so well! Thanks so much for sharing and I am so glad you are having a fabulous trip! What fun to share this with your mom! Saundra

    Like

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