October 28th - November 7th 2021 - Lake Garda and Venice



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We stayed at Les Art hotel in Barcelona, on the 26th floor with great views, although the windows needed cleaning! A couple of long walks and tapas, outside. below- A magnificemt copper whale.1992 vintage
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On the friday we drove for 6 hours to the delightful hotel, Chateau Saint Roux, just a few kilometres from the A8 motorway across the south of France. It was called a Chateau because it produced wine but was actually a conglomeration of farm buildings, really charming, with a variety of farm animals- black pigs. goats. a llama, etc . and superb vegetable and flower gardens. Also a very good supper- Breakfast was adequate but the venue was a trifle cold, and with a rain drenched floor. We stayed in the Cougette room both times



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Then a difficult drive to Sirmione: it was raining hard for the first 2 hours and the windscreen wipers suddenly needed new blades!!. and over half of the myriad of Italian tunnels just over the border were closed in one direction, hence a myriad of traffic jams. We eventually reached Sirmione, at the south end of Lake Garda, only to find the world and his friend there: it was Halloween, running into the fiesta for All Saints Day.



We drove, Corisande having to force her way through the throngs. into the restricted traffic, old, walled town .to find the charming Hotel Eden, deciding then and there to ditch the car for the next 40 hours!!


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We had the 2nd floor room with its wide balcony right on the lake. Really enjoyed our dinner in the next door restaurant on the first evening. And the breakfasts were excellent. Good icecreams too!!
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We had a bracing walk around the end of the Sirmione Peninsular, which entailed getting down to a beach, then picking our way under some cliffs in order to reach Jamaica Beach. Here, serendipitously, we found a beach bar and enjoyed some light liquid refreshment. The return was easier as there was a fully paved path up and out
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On All Saints Day we left Sirmione , in drizzle, to drive the 2 hours to Venice. Cracked the ginormous multistorey Trompetto carpark on the outshirts of the city and took a waterbus, lasting about 40 minutes, up the Grand Canal to St Marks station . Thence only 100 metres to the Hotel Monaco

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Had a delightful room overlooking the Grand Canal. Really good food in the hotel restaurant the first night, but the decor and lighting was soulless.
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View from our room ,326, window early am after a stormy night. The tide had flooded into St Marks Sq . But good views at breakfast
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Had discovered on arrival that one needed to book online tickets at least a couple of days in advance! So had to book a guided tour of the Ducal Palace & the Basilica. So Tuesday we just walked & walked
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And visited the gallery Accademia (online tickets had been available for this on monday evening, but not for the Peggy Guggenheim museum)
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Then on to Santa Maria Gloriosa with Titian´s tomb before reaching the Rialto Bridge. David went into a Leonardo exposition enroute
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On this 2nd night we had dinner in Bistrot de Venise : the food was delicious other than the rock hard Tiramasu, but unfortunately I had difficulties staying awake!



On Wednesday we had our expensive guided tour with Eduardo, who was excellent: he brought the Ducal Palace and the Basilica alive
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At the end of our Ducal Palace tour we walked over the Bridge of Sighs to the dungeons- Here we see the viewfrom it, plus its appearance from outside


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The Horses of Saint Mark were installed on the balcony above the portal of the basilica in about 1254. They date to Classical Antiquity. The horses were long displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, and in 1204 Doge Enrico Dandolo sent them back to Venice as part of the loot sacked from Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade. They were taken to Paris by Napoleon in 1797 but returned to Venice in 1815. They were moved temporarily to the Palazzo Venezia in Rome during the first World War for safekeeping. During World War II, they were hidden in Praglia Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Teolo. After a long restoration, since the 1970s the copper mercury-gilded originals have been kept in St Mark's Museum.nside the basilica and the horses now on the facade of the cathedral are bronze replicas. The Museum contained fantastic mosaics



It was a soft day as we finished our Basilica tour.. But returning to the hotel the sun reappeared and we enjoyed our Welcome drink of a Bellini on the terrace
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We then crossed the canal in a gondola to the basilica on the other side and wandered up to another square where we had a glass of wine and a tapa, and David then indulged in an icecream!
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We wandered onto the Rialto again, and thence back to the hotel. In the evening the restaurant where we were hoping to eat was full, so we just had a glass of wine and a mojito on the terrace: no chance of any food there!



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On the Thursday morning we stumbled upon a military ceremony in St Marks Square: 4/11/1967 was the day of horrendous floods in the city . Then we went on our Islands, Murano, Torcello & Burano, tour

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First to Murano where we saw the famous glass being blown and then had a good stroll along its canal
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Then onto Torcello which was so peaceful, only 10 residents! Attila’s Throne, an ancient chair made of stone, is located in the main square of the "town": it is believed that it was used by Attila, King of the Huns.
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The island is also home to the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, with its Venetian-Byzantine mosaics




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Adjacent Burano is known for its lace work and brightly coloured homes. After we had explored we sat down for some tapas, which were a long time coming!!Then its toilet was closed,so had a quick coffee on the way back to the boat
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Once back to the hotel, we walked along past the Square and enjoyed a cheap mojito whilst watching the sun set. Later we tried to get some food on the hotel terrace but had to settle for a mojito instead!!
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A final breakfast,then a water taxi back to the dreaded carpark. Eventually David found where to pay & we descended out of the maze, crossed the ugly causeway, & drove the 7 necessary hours to arrive back at Chateau Saint Roux

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An uneventful 7 hour journey & we were installed in the same Courgette room. Had a lass of wine in the reception area, and then enjoyed dinner . After breakfast explored the pond & flower garden before heading south
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Then back to Barcelona, being promoted to the 28th floor, after a terrible reception. Really enjoyed the vista from our window . Went for a walk and later dined nearby on black rice


Pembroke decided to drive home, with Somerville´s help from the passenger seat

Life in 2021

Chris Grant