Sorry, no photos today - the computer I'm using seems to be locked down pretty tightly and there's no way to access my camera files.
Yesterday we left Venezia (Venice). I must admit upon arrival in Venezia my expectations were very low. I had heard a lot about the smelly water, crowded streets and pickpockets. In the end, we were pleasantly surprised. Perhaps because it's no longer the high season, the tourists weren't actually so thick on the ground (although the ferries were very busy). We enjoyed exploring the maze of little streets and bridges. There are supposedly over 400 bridges in Venezia! We visited the small island of Murano, site of many glass-blowing factories and shops. We bought some fun blue liquer glasses. In the afternoon, we visited the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of Modern Art - some fascinating works by Picasso, Dali, Max Ernst, Mondrian, Giacometti and Jackson Pollock. Some of the works are almost 100 years old. It was very impressive and far more interesting than I had expected :)
The departure also marked the end of our second Intrepid tour. So now we're completely on our own for the rest of the holiday! We really enjoyed traveling with other people and we made some new friends along the way. We wholeheartedly recommend the Intrepid "original" style of travel to anyone of moderate fitness. It takes a lot of the hassle and uncertainty out of the travel, but still provides plenty of opportunity to have your own experiences. At minimum, you could just travel from place to place with the group and then do your own thing in each place. However, we found a few people in each tour that we liked enough to hang out with most of the time :)
Today is P's birthday and to celebrate we are spending the day in Ravenna, home of many Byzantine-era mosaics. Yesterday afternoon we visited a carpark construction site. Unfortunately for the developer, during construction they uncovered some amazing mosaics so the place is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, rather than a carpark. Today we are going to seek out more mosaics.
Our hotel room is amazing - it has a fresco on the ceiling and it's huge. Also, the room I'm typing this in also has a fresco. The hotel is actually a converted palazzo (palace).
Tomorrow we begin a rather lengthy and convoluted day of travel to Essen, in time for Spiel!