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March 16, 2002
Buon viaggio (Russell)

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The Piazza San Marco at twilight

March 16th, our last full day in Venezia, was not the wonderful, fun-filled vacation day that most visitors to Venezia spend.  Instead, it was rather mundane and full of chores.

Our PC hard-drive was almost full, given all of the pictures that we have taken lately, so Russell had run back out to Tronchetto yesterday to retrieve the CD burner from the car.  He spent most of the morning burning CDs.  This, of course, meant making another trip back out to Tronchetto later in the morning to put the CD burner back into the car.  Russell ran all the way to the vaporetto stop lugging the heavy box, and still managed to miss the 82 vaporetto just as it pulled away.  Undeterred, Russell caught the 41, which doesn't go to Tronchetto, but takes a short-cut halfway there.  He hopped off of the 41 at Sacca Fisola, then hopped back onto the 82 that he had missed earlier (by now, Russell is an expert at getting to and from Tronchetto).

Meanwhile, Gail had done laundry and thought that she was all done... until Joss crawled into the storage space under the window sill to retrieve some lost Lego.  He came back out completely covered with dust, so Gail got to do laundry again.

We didn't get out of the villa until after lunch (more leftovers), and even then it was to do more chores.  The hazy sunshine of yesterday was now a completely overcast sky, and we went to the north side of Venezia to find the UPS office, with the intention of mailing back the raclette machine and our Vinci clock (our original intention was to wait until Austria, not completely trusting Italy's postal service, until we discovered that Venezia has UPS -- they use boats).  We finally found the hole-in-the-wall UPS office, but it was closed for lunch.  So we had our first gelato for the day (fulfilling a promise to Cameron and Joss) while we waited for it to open.  We were shocked when the UPS man quoted us 90 to ship the two boxes to California.  (The whole thing seemed suspicious.  He never actually weighed the boxes, but just measured them and then made a phone call in Italian.  He also told us that he was giving us a "special rate" below the normal cost of 135.  Keep in mind that he wasn't an official UPS station, but instead just an approved "outlet.")  We decided to hold onto our packages for now, although this meant that we had to drag them around Venezia for the rest of the day.

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Gelato... one more time

We did manage to give Cameron and Joss some fun that day.  They were able to feed the pigeons twice (the second time was while Russell sat on the payphone, securing future accommodations -- we're already thinking ahead to the UK).  After yet another trip back out to Tronchetto to unload our unmailed packages, we took a different vaporetto down the Canal Grande to Rialto at twilight, something that we've been meaning to do all week.  We strolled one last time from Rialto to San Marco after dark, and had a wonderful time soaking up the evening ambience.  Venezia by night is completely different; this is the Venezia that Russell remembers from 20 years ago and that Gail remembers from 10 years ago.

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The Ponte dei Sospiri at night

For dinner, we finally fulfilled Russell's long craving for Chinese food by dining at a Ristorante Cinese in an alley behind the Palazzo Ducale.  The food was delicious, and the two Cantonese ladies thought that Cameron and Joss were very handsome.  We had one last Italian gelato for dessert, took one last stroll through the Piazza San Marco (completely empty at night), and boarded the vaporetto out of Venezia for the last time.

On March 16, it was downright foggy outside.  We were up at 8:00 AM for our 10:00 AM check-out.  At 8:30 AM, Russell made one more run to the Coop Mercato for some last-minute supplies (including another package of chocolate bread and some pasta sauce for our travel pantry).  At 9:30 AM, he began lugging the five suitcases back down the two flights of stairs so that we would be ahead of schedule.

We ended up being very much behind schedule.  Signora Ferialdi didn't arrive until almost 10:30 AM to check us out.  Russell and Gail just about had a heart-attack when Signora Ferialdi informed us that we had used almost 600 units of electricity that week.  At 0.58 per unit, this amounted to more than 300!  We argued back and forth for almost half an hour that this was physically impossible; she even called someone on the phone to verify what the meter had read when the last people had checked out.  Finally, we asked to walk back downstairs with her to reread the meter.  It turned out that she had misread a "2" as a "7" in the hundreds column -- we had actually used less than 100 units (Signora Ferialdi apologized profusely for this).   Nevertheless, the final bill for our week in Venezia still included 85 for gas, 45 for electricity, and a mandatory 78 for cleaning.

Despite our four enjoyable weeks in Italy, we are happy to be leaving.  It was nice to be in villas instead of hotel rooms, but the base cost for the accommodations turned out to be more than double our budget; and  having to pay for our own gas, electricity, and cleaning on top of that (all unexpected charges) more than ate up any savings that we achieved by doing our own cooking.  (Before departing Venezia, we also incurred one last charge: 126 for parking our car at Tronchetto for the week.)

Our original plan had been to visit Trieste next, so that we could cross over the border into Slovenia.  Unfortunately, we were unable to book any advance accommodations in Trieste, and we do not relish the idea of just showing up in Slovenia tonight looking for accommodations.  So we will bypass Slovenia, and instead head for Salzburg, Austria, where we have booked two rooms in a private home.  But with a two-hour delay in departing (we didn't end up driving out of Tronchetto until noon), we are not looking forward to an eight-hour drive across the Alps.

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Our last vaporetto ride.. in the fog


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