TRAVELSCRIBBLES is a blog featuring travel reports, advice, and idea sharing for those interested in both domestic and international exploration.

Roger Sauer and his wife Donna have spent years traveling the world but have many places yet to see. You can follow their past and current travels here as well as post comments and questions about places they have visited.

Roger and Donna travelled to New Zealand and Australia in September, 2013. They will be in Paris in September 2015 with a train trip to Nice and Barcelona. They will then be aboard the Disney Magic (again) for a transatlantic cruise to Miami. Follow their travels on Twitter @rsauer3473.

Donna and Roger own Disney Vacation Club memberships at Old Key West and Beach Cub resorts in Walt Disney World. They also have other timeshare interests in Maui, Cancun, Orlando, and Palm Springs.
Feel free to contact them at 503-585-3473 if you would like rent one of these properties.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

European Trip and Transatlantic Cruise Part 1

OVER THE ATLANTIC, August 29-30, 2010
The flight from Orlando was long and a real challenge. Sleep was near impossible despite purchasing an upgrade to Comfort Class, the best description of which is "uncomfortable." yes, we had a glass of wine and some Bailey's, but the flight was rough. Believe it or not, the captain of the plane was introduced as Captain America and I found out his first name was Roger. The five hours in Amsterdam that followed was even worse. We were half asleep and exhausted. Once we were on the plane to Venice, it went very well. Our seatmate was a gentleman from Norway on his way with his wife he add to Venice and a Mediterranean cruise.

Once we landed we chose to take the water bus or vaporetto to our hotel rather than the more expensive water taxi- this saved us about $80 but took over an hour. After getting off the boat we were able to find our hotel easily though the entrance was down a couple of very narrow alleys off a main street.

VENICE-August 31, 2010
Today we woke late after 12 hours of sleep interrupted by waking at about 1:00 AM. When we got up, we had only an hour and a half to get ready for our Venice walking tour that we'd arranged at home.
Our hotel is on the Grand Canal, a peek of which we can see from our window. We are on the third floor, or the fourth if you consider the ground floor is floor 0 according to the elevator.

The room is older with some modern updates such as a flat screen tv. No Internet without paying a fee and then it is only available on the first floor.

We walked to St. Mark's Plaza for the tour. Our guide was Rita, a Venice native. We were in a large tour group. We learned a lot of Venetian history as well as touring St. Mark's basilica, a very Byzantine church as it was built under the aegis of the Eastern Roman Catholic church. Rather than frescos, the interior of the vault and the upper walls are gold leaf mosaic with scenes from the Bible and church history.

After the church we walked through the narrow streets through the city ending up near the Rialto bridge. Then Donna and I left and sojourned south of the Rialto Bridge near a market and some very narrow streets along which were many small shops, restaurants, and little markets. While walking we ate our lunch of an open face Italian sandwich and a Coke. At a little storefront near our hotel we picked up wine and some snacks for later.

VENICE-September 1, 2010
As I write this we are watching CNN International- The World during Ramadan. Fascinating viewing. The German and Italian channels were bleaker and I was afraid the Bloomberg channel would let me know we are broke and cannot get home. As for the AlJazeera channel, we did not watch it much.
Today involved a great amount of walking- first to the public market near the Rialto where we viewed the vegetable and fish markets. There were bunches of small peppers wrapped like flowers and very colorful if unusual fish items. One of these was the seppe, or cuttlefish that is a cephalopod, like squid, but larger in general and mostly black.

In the afternoon we had a chance to see a seppe as a glass artwork on the island of Murano. This island includes most of the famed glass artisans in Venice. Like the island of Venice, Murano is made up of a close set of islands connected by bridges. We saw some glass being blown- a goblet made of two colors. It took two craftsmen to do the task.

Facing the many canals are restaurants and many glass shops. Some of these had large expensive pieces of beautiful execution while other shops had smaller figures, plates, and tourist-oriented items. Donna picked up a small plate in one of the shops. Rather than eat there we took the return vaporetto to St. Mark's Plaza then grabbed some items for a dinner in our room.

VENICE-September 2, 2010
Today the good news is that we were able to go on the vaporetto to Lido where we visited the site of the 2010 Venice International Film Festival. The bad news is that neither Donna nor I were discovered as the next big movie stars. Lido is the beach island for Venice and is seven miles long and about 1 mile wide. Unlike the city of Venice it has cars and buses. We took a ride to the west point of Alberino after stopping by the Film Festival site. We had a short snack at the festival and walked around the exhibition which surrounds the casino and movie theater. George Clooney was visible on a jumbotron display but we did not see him in person. Most people were wearing ID tags that allowed them to sign up for the movie previews. Security was very high and we did not see much. The movie that seemed to have the greatest visibility as determined by signs was "The Town" with Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck!?!?

The island is much more residential than Venice proper. We even found a small grocery store where we picked up some things. We ate at a sidewalk cafe and had our first real "Italian" food, lasagna and gnocchi. Later we took the boat back to Venice where we discovered our room permeated with a lacquer smell due to construction in a nearby room. I complained about the smell getting stronger, so we were moved to another room in the Europa wing (this hotel managed by Westin is comprised of two older hotels the Regina and the Europa). While it had no appreciable view, it was a gorgeous suite with a sitting area, large bathroom, and king bed. Cool.

After the big move we headed to that Venetian tradition, the Hard Rock Cafe, where Donna picked up a shirt for Caidin. Then we explored an area of the city we had not seen. Through the labyrinthine streets we looked for a restaurant recommended by a girl who sold us a Venice print yesterday. We finally found it, but it was closed. Many businesses are closed from about 2 PM till late afternoon. We headed back to the hotel and even found a Disney store on one of them.

Back in our room we had plenty of room, a glass of wine, some good bread, and CNN.

VENICE-September 3, 2010
We are sure you have been glued to your televisions regarding the important news about the Pakistan Cricket team. There has been little else on the tube over here. Imagine those guys cheating!

Anyway, today was our official "Get on a boat and see where it goes" Day! We had not seen the entire Grand Canal so we hopped on a Number 1 vaporetto and headed west toward the rail station where we will get on our train to Rome tomorrow. The station seemed simple enough. So we then waited for the next boat that happened to be a direct boat to Murano, the glassmakers island, where we had been two days ago. It was a quick trip and it gave Donna a chance to look again at some glassware gifts. During our stay the clouds thickened and darkened and we were caught in a downpour and would have been drenched had it not been for some strategically placed awnings.
We missed the direct boat to Lido so we took a circuitous route ending up near the hospital on the north side of the island.

As we had not been in that particular area, we jumped of and tried to find our way back to our hotel near San Marco place. There are yellow signs on walls at key intersecting streets or "calles" indicating major areas of interest such as Sam Marco or Rialto. Occasionally, the signs are missing or confusing, so we saw many new parts of town. Once we dropped things off at the hotel and snacked, we headed back to Lido and the film festival to get a couple more copies of the Venice Film Festival program. Our original one had gotten wet. And we did a little more shopping at the Billa store for dinner- some salads and more bread.

Tonight there is some packing to do as we want to be on our way to the train station by 9 AM or so as it takes an hour to get there by boat and our train leaves at 11:27.

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