|The Grand Canal in Venice, Italy|
The flight from JFK to Dublin was OK but nothing to rave about. Seats are closely aligned in coach and there’s not much room to stretch out. And our ravioli dinner was no great shakes (although today that’s true of virtually all airline food). Our flight from Dublin to Venice on the other hand was much more comfortable.
|View from the window of our room at the Hotel Arlecchio in Venice, Italy|
|The Piazza San Marco in the Rialto area of Venice, Italy|
On Thursday, November 8, we took advantage of a promotional offer to visit the Isola di Murano (the island of Murano), renowned for its production of Murano glass. We were picked up at our hotel by water taxi and brought to the island where we saw some incredible glass sculptures. We wandered about the island a bit, then returned to our hotel via water bus.
|Sue at the synagogue in the Jewish quarter of Venice, Italy|
|The Jewish Quarter in Venice, Italy|
The next day, Saturday, November 10, we walked to the train station and boarded a fast train to Florence. When we arrived in Florence, we discovered that the Hotel Globus, was less than a 10 minute walk from the train station so we eschewed a taxi and made our way to the hotel on foot. We had selected this hotel, too, based on the positive reviews it had received on both Trip Advisor and Expedia and again we were generally satisfied. These were the pluses: the location - a short walk to the train station and well within walking distance of the sights we most wanted to see (the Ponte Vecchio, the Pitti Palace, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Accademia, home to Michaelangelo’s David); a number of good but inexpensive restaurants in the neighborhood; and a clean, well-furnished and spacious room. The only negative here was that we had to climb a long flight of steps to get to the first floor reception area and that, once there, we had to travel via a claustrophobia-inducing elevator to our room on the third floor (you actually had to keep your finger on the elevator button the entire time you were ascending or descending or the elevator would stop; additionally, the elevator itself was only enclosed on three sides!). But this hotel’s personnel were also most accommodating; and our room here, too, was very well priced with a continental breakfast and drinks during “Happy Hour” included in the room rate.
|View of the Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy|
That day we bought two “Firenze Cards” for 50 euros apiece. These cards would allow us to enter dozens of museums throughout Florence over the next three days at no additional cost and, more importantly, to do so without having to wait on interminable lines. We ended up using the cards to visit six sites – the Pitti Palace, the Uffizi Gallery, the Galileo Museum, the Archaeology Museum, the Paleontology Museum, and the Accademia Gallery – so the cards did end up saving us a few euros compared to what we would have spent had we purchased admission tickets to those six sites individually. But much more importantly, having the cards saved us considerable time.
The Uffizi Gallery is wonderful (one of the best museums in the world with an exceptional collection of Botticelli works) and there is really nothing that can compete with Michelangelo’s works in the Accademia Gallery – especially his awe-inspiring statue of David. We enjoyed the small Galileo Museum as well, with its collections of telescopes and other scientific instruments from Galileo’s time. We’d seen the Pitti Palace half a century ago and again we were not disappointed. And the Paleontology Museum, with its excellent collection fossils not only from Italy but from all over the world was a real surprise. In fact our only disappointment was the Archaeology Museum with its rather mundane collection of Etruscan works.
|View of the Arno River from the Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy|
Our return was exhausting. We took an early train from Florence to Rome, then transferred to another train that took us from the Rome train station to the Rome Airport. At the airport, we boarded our Aer Lingus Flight to Dublin where we transferred after a short layover to our flight from Dublin to JFK.
And so, ten days after leaving New York, we returned home, having consumed too much pasta, too much pizza, too much wine, and way too much gelato! And we'd do it again in a New York minute!