Let me be the first to tell you, if you haven't experienced Venice or Paris, please consider doing so!
I just returned home from a trip of a lifetime! What sold me on this experience was the ability to actually ride on the Orient Express!!! Venice and Paris were second in comparison!
We flew out of Orlando, Fl Saturday afternoon and arrived in Venice 9 am Sunday morning. Jet lag? Nah... mostly we slept on the plane. The hotel recommended we stay awake during the first day and to sleep that night to avoid possible jet lag. It worked! Oh and in case I do not mention it later, Merrits Travel was with us and they are truly, without a doubt, an amazing company!
So Sunday, we basically checked in and had the afternoon and evening to ourselves. My husband, John, and I ventured to St Mark's island. OMG was it amazing! We ate at the Florian! If you have not heard of this place (it's okay, I hadn't either) it is the second oldest restaurant in Venice/St Mark's! We ate outside on a white linen table while an orchestra played. AMAZING! I had this delish queshe followed by a chocolate cake. John had a chilled chocolate pie. His was much better and I threatened to steal it! LOL! The rest of the afternoon into the evening was spent walking the square. It was a rough terrain and included many bridges, which we found out were equivalent to our blocks (we have blocks, they have bridges). Oh, and daily, Venice is sinking. There is a plan in place with their government but they have yet to start the upgrades.
Monday we did an excursion of St Mark's square with a tour guide. I highly recommend this. We ventured over the Bridge of Sighs. As romantic as some people assume this bridge is, it is truly not. This bridge connects the Doge's (pronounced DO-ja) house to the prison.
The Doge's palace was remarkable! We also toured St Mark's church. Some claim St Mark is the protector of the island. Well maybe it is now, but it wasn't always the case. A few of the Venician's went over to where St Mark was buried and stole him! They brought his remains to Venice and buried him, renaming the island St Mark's. His remains are still buried there to this day. You'll also see lions with wings, which serve as the protector image of the island.
Crossing over the bridge of sighs took us to the prison. It was still used up till after WWI. That's roughly around 1920. We toured the prison and took a few pictures. There's no windows, no bathrooms, nothing. Just holes in the walls to pass food. Imagine living in something like this... It made me shutter while walking through it.
Tuesday our ventures took us to Murano and Burano. This had to be my favorite part of Venice!
Murano, known for its glass blowing, did not disappoint! We were able to attend a glass blowing demonstration, then toured the shops. We bought a few pieces of jewelry and some trinkets for John's office. Next, we traveled to Burano. I LOVED this village! The homes have many colors! Each color represents how many families live there. So a three room home could hold up to three families, thus, three different colors. Known for its lace making, we toured a small shop and watched lace being made. I ventured up to another two floors of the shop and looked around. One of the sales ladies followed me and we got to talking.
I asked her what the significance of the masks in Venice meant. I had heard it was a big tradition, but what did it truly mean?
She told me the week before [Lent] they celebrate Carnavales (Carnaval). So 2017 it will be February 25-28. Do you recall the legendary Casanova? According to this woman, Casanova started the tradition of the mask wearing. He appeared at a ball wearing a mask and refused to remove it. He danced with many women and had his ways with a few of them (per legend). He continued this year after year and the tradition was picked up by other men. They would wear masks and visit the brothels. Eventually, women began wearing these masks (remember Eyes Wide Shut?). So there you have it, the reason for the masks. Oh... and yes, this has triggered a NEW story! I bought a mask from this store that is egg shell white, with white lace, and beautiful white feathers. I'll take pictures to show you soon! I also purchased a black lace fan. I can see these two beauties come together as a possible book cover!
Eventually, our trip to Venice did come to an end, but the trip was far from over! We then found our way to the Orient Express!!!
We set off from Venice and traveled through five other countries: Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany and landing us in France! It was an amazing journey! If you are able to book yourself a train ride, you MUST consider this train! Smooth ride, fabulous employees, and doing an overnight stay is a MUST!!! This was a bucket list item and I'm so thankful I was able to do it!
Once we arrived in France, we were escorted to our hotel...no scratch that... PALACE! Yes! Hotel Le Meurice had been classified a Palace! THE HOTEL WAS RIDICULOUS IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE!!
Our first day there, we drove all around. Saw the Moulon Rouge, stopped at the Eiffel Tower and saw many other destinations.
I took pictures of statues that included King Louis XIV (more on him later) and Joan of Arc.
We did a walking tour of Paris and OUCH!!! It was a LONG days travel! Did I mention we walked around 6.5 miles a day? Yeah... sore feet!
One of my favorite stops was the Palace of Versailles. King Louis XIV to be precise. His palace was something I never thought I would get to see in my lifetime. Truly an amazing sight! We were able to venture to the maze gardens and witness the water gardens come to life (first picture)! These are rumored to be holy water and have been told to bring about healings. I did not venture close enough to find out myself, but managed to take amazing pictures (to come soon!) We also were able to learn about the living estate for Marie Antoinette, but not able to venture to it. Below is a picture of her estate (picture 2).
The Palace of Versailles took me back to the stories of Henry XIV with his blue stocks and red heeled shoes. Did you know the Louis Boitton shoes were red bottoms were inspired by the King? If not, now you know!
Next, we ventured to the Lourve and viewed the Mona Lisa. It was truly remarkable seeing her painting in the flesh! It was protected behind glass. Did you know DiVinchi had other works of art as well? He had quite a collection and I found it odd so many patrons passed these by. They were just as beautiful as his Mona Lisa.
The Lourve, it would be impossible to visit the entire museum in ONE DAY. I mean, it is almost as large as Versailles! We were not able to venture to the other museum due to lack of time.
Eventually, the trip came to an end. We flew home Sunday and we were so happy to be here! We missed our kiddo terribly.
As stated above, more pictures to come soon! I was able to go live using Facebook time to time and I hope you enjoyed the adventure with me! It was fun to do!
Till next time please keep reading and leaving reviews. Pictures soon!!!
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