Monday, September 22, 2014

A Fitting Last Day in Italy

On Saturday we paid 15 Euros (about $20) to visit the Doge Palace in Venice. When I bought my ticket and when I left the Palace I asked "How many days is this ticket valid?" Both times the answer was "Three months". Wow, what a deal! And Carol and I will be in Venice until Monday night so I will study up, return, and rent the Audio-guide. Awesome.

Yesterday we did our laundry in the morning and in the afternoon my body screamed, "It is Sunday and I won't miss another nap." Carol walked to dinner alone and I slept the day and night away but fit in reading two things:1) History of Doge Palace in preparation for today's visit with the Audio-guide.  2) THOUSAND DAYS IN VENICE by Marlena de Blasi which has so much more meaning after we sailed the Grand Canal.

So we get up early, eat breakfast (including homemade warm croissants), pack up and check out (storing our suitcases under the stairs while we go back to Venice). We bought the 7 day transportation passes for 60 Euros - so we use them today to take the bus back over the bridge to Venice and to catch the boat to the Doge Palace. Rain is in the forecast but it is beautiful and cool.

One hour and fifteen minutes later we get off the boat at San Marco and notice the long line for the Palace. But we have tickets and walk through the entrance for 'ticket holders'. The ticket lady scans our tickets and shakes her head "No". I protest, "These tickets are for 3 months!" She answers "No".  No more English words. We walk back outside and Carol remembers that we went in a different way on Saturday. We weave through the crowds, past the lines for St. Mark's Basillica, but there is no other entrance.

We return to the entrance for 'ticket holders', ready to demand an explanation that we can understand.
A man scans our tickets this time. He shakes his head, "No". "Isn't this ticket good for 3 months?" "Of course. Good for 3 months. But one time only." Even though I spent hours reading about the Doge Palace and almost 2 hours getting here, I don't want to pay another $20 to enter and $20 more for the Audio-guide. We are disappointed. . . But decide to walk the Grand Canal on a beautiful day. Well, you can't walk the Grand Canal but you can weave in and out of the very narrow streets until you find the Ferry on the Grand Canal that will take you back to the bus.

We are now at Marco Polo Airport 4 hours before our plane to Istanbul. This is the airport that had a strike the day we were to fly to Italy! Turkish Airlines doesn't even open it's desk for another hour so we sit on a cement bench by the highway. Carol is discovering the treasures inside her iPod. It makes cricket sounds, frog sounds, and loon calls. What else do you do when you are 4 hours early for your plane to Istanbul?

Once again the alarms go off for Carol when she goes through Security. I make it through every time but Carol gets caught every time. This time it was a metal tape measure in her pocket. Don't ask why 
she is carrying a metal tape measure in her pocket.


We have waited now our 4 hours. Guess what? No Turkish Airline People are at our gate. It is lightning outside. The sign says our plane is now 2 hours late. An alarm goes off and everyone is quiet. The woman makes an urgent announcement . . . in Italian. 

    Partenza: 19:20
    Del 22/09/2014
    Arrivo: 22:40
    Del 22/09/2014

A woman with Turkish Airlines arrives and everyone mobs her.

We are suppose to report to the Turkey Tourism Desk when we get to Istanbul so they can get us to our Hotel. Will anyone be at the Turkey Tourism Desk after midnight? Will we have to spend the night in the airport?


Just boarded our plane at Marco Polo Airport and we are leaving 4 hours later than our scheduled departure time.  And remember, we arrived 4 hours before our departure time. First we learned the plane could not land because of the thunderstorm. Evidently it circled above Venice for 2 hours. So many people had connections to make in Istanbul and were frantic about the delay. Then we heard the plane had landed but they could not refuel it when it was raining. Expect delay of 2 more hours.Since these are the same airport workers that went on strike two weeks ago, I wonder if they just didn't want to work in the rain.
Stay tuned.

We are finally In our hotel room in Istanbul at 4:15 am and we must be ready for the airport shuttle pick up at 10 am for our 1:30 flight to Dulles.  I feel somewhat like a prisoner of war as stern Turkish Airlines officials keep barking one word commands to Carol, me, and forty-five other compliant prisoners.
"Boarding Pass."
"No. Boarding Pass only."
"Passport now"
"Room 208"

A large bus fills quickly with the 'prisoners' and luggage. No one says a word, just obeys orders. The bus drives quite a way to the EuroHotel. The man at the hotel desk is overwhelmed,barks more orders to us, and takes our Passports to keep overnight.

Rooms are nice.  Carol turns on the air conditioner because it is as hot and humid as Italy.

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