Back home, without incident, & glad to be here (looking forward to the weekend) although more time in Venice would have been great of course - not necessarily to do more, but to have more time to relax and enjoy it all! In the two full days I had, I saw: two churches, one 'school', one palace, one art gallery, one theatre, the ghetto (briefly), went shopping in the Rialto district, took multiple boat rides, ate in two restaurants, had gelato & pizza on the street and wandered around the city on foot quite a bit. Woof, tiring!
On the third day, I got up bright and early and tackled the absolute mission that was packing my suitcase to comply with Easyjet standards (it was full already going, and bursting at the seams coming back. Seriously, I need to learn to pack lighter. I think I had 2 dresses, a pair of boots, 2 tops and multiple undergarments that didn't come close to being worn in there). Then I went back to St Mark's square (getting slightly lost again on the way) to see the rest of the church.
Turned out I was too early getting there, so I went and looked at a couple of nearby churches, which were apparently not big tourist draws, but were sumptuously decorated (one even had a Titian) all the same. You look at these places and it just seems incredible to think of the wealth that must have been sloshing around in the hands of a tiny elite, and then you realise that we still have pretty much the same situation today, ho hum.
St Mark's was not at all the same with the lights turned off, it really makes an incredible difference, so my advice to any future travellers is to make sure you get the opportunity to see the mosaics lit. Nevertheless, I'm still glad I had the opportunity to visit again. I did all the optional (paying) extras - checked out the Pala d'Oro golden jewel-encrusted altarpiece (with St Mark's tomb next to it), the treasury, full of golden reliquaries and other churchy knicknacks, and the upstairs, where you can go outside onto the loggia and there is a bit of a museum. These were all worth looking at, with the upstairs bit the clear winner. Unfortunately, I was running out of time by the time I got up there, so I had to hurry through a bit. However, you could view the roof mosaics up close, which was fantastic, and they also had some mosaic fragments in the museum bit which for some reason or other were no longer on the walls, I couldn't really stay to find out why. It's quite interesting how this level of opulence and magnificence just makes you gape in awe, I'm not sure quite what it is, since I find anything modern that is that gold-encrusted to be in extremely poor taste (I'm thinking along the lines of when Donald Trump lets the Apprentices into his apartment. Seriously, Donald, stop being so vulgar about it and while you're at it, be less sexist and tell your producers not to play a trumpet fanfare when you arrive at a venue on the show.) But when it's hundreds of years old, I'm all slack-jawed with admiration...
I lingered a little bit longer than I had planned to and had to run back to the hostel, luckily enough even I had more or less managed to burn the route into my brain, pick up my bags, stop off for a takeaway hot chocolate (I had had a gelato at this place and had sworn to return once I saw they served gianduja hot chocolate - it was nice, although it had actual big pieces of hazelnut in it, which was not unpleasant although unexpected), take the boat, then the bus and arrive at the airport with time to spare (although that didn't stop me having to run to the gate when they did the final call).
Oh PS there were these ladies on the bus tricked out in high heels and designer stuff who somehow had managed to arrive from England, I don't know how, make their way to the Piazzale Roma, which is where the bus stops, and then get back on a bus headed back to the airport. They were seriously stereotypes of those sort of wooly-minded English aristocratic ladies who lunch (and they were in fact just headed into St Mark's for lunch before leaving Venice again, for some reason - I only know the parts of the story that were brayed to the whole bus at high volume). You couldn't help but feel sorry for them, of course, but dear me. I thought everyone knew (or at least everyone who was actually going to Venice/already there) that there are no buses or cars on the island itself? One wonders if they managed to make it back to wherever they were going in one piece... Good for them if they managed to walk around flooded/cobblestoned Venice in high heels though!
After that, everything went smoothly with the plane and train back home & I unpacked and did laundry yesterday, so all round was feeling virtuous and actually pretty refreshed, despite the hectic nature of the holiday. And I came in just under budget, even including the shopping! Will probably get photos up in stages, seriously I took a billion.