Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh Venice!

I 100% love Venice.  Its been compared to Disney World, its supposed to smell, and oh the tourists.  I was expecting not to be a big fan of Venice.  Honestly, in the beginning, I was indifferent about going at all.  But after being there, I can say, you really should go to Venice.  Maybe its the glimmering canals, maybe its the seafood, or maybe because that's where I got engaged! Who knows, but it was magical (eck cliche, I know).

We took a train from Albertville, France (about 1/2 hour from Faverges, France) to Chambery, France.  We switched trains and boarded one for Milan.  Our train ride to Milan was delayed, but we met an American that was actually from Cleveland Heights (near our hometown of Mentor) and was a professor at Boston College.  Alex and him chatted about mutual BC people they knew, as I began to panic about our late arrival to Milan (therefore our missed connection to Venice).  Once arriving to the train station, we got in line at customer service and soon learned a very important thing about Italian trains: They really don't care.  We were told to board the next train to Venice, No Big Deal.

We wandered outside of the train station for our 20 minute "layover" (what do you call the break between trains?) and discovered one of my favorite parts of Italy, the water fountains!  I felt proud of myself for knowing how this works (yes, I learned it from Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts, and yes I cried while watching that, alone in the movie theater heh heh).  You can block the main stream of water with your finger to create an arched water fountain, perfect for drinking.  I had some issues with the right amount of blockage to pressure created ratio.

The sexiest photo of me on the trip by far.

We hopped on the next train with no problems and headed for Venice!  After getting off the train, we got in line at the tourist office.  I wanted to find out the difference between getting a Venice Card or just a public transport pass.  Long story short, (unlike in Rome), Venice Card only covers some museum entries, and no public transport.  We passed on that.  Onto the next line, for a water bus pass. 

Now, I would not say I am a believer in karma, but I do genuinley believe that you should watch what you put into the world and expect the same back.  Rarely do negative nancys have good days... Anyways, I have a habit of giving away my unused public transport passes (in NYC, Chicago, etc) to those waiting in line to purchase one.  A girl approached Alex and I in line and offered us 2 passes with 10 hours still remaining.  We snatched those right up-- a cost and line avoided!  I don't know whether I would call it fate or whatever, but it was quite cool to have a kind task I had passed along in the past make its way back to me.  We boarded a water bus and followed my crudely hand-drawn map from google maps to our B&B.

We stayed in a little Bed and Breakfast, B&B Venezia.  It was off the beaten path, had amazing reviews on Trip Advisor, and was at the right price.  It was 80 Euros per night for the both of us, which included breakfast.  The nearest hostel was 35 Euro per person, per night and there was no breakfast included, not to mention the fact it was on a different island!  After getting off the water bus, we were totally turned around trying to find it, Dove (Doe-vay "where is" in Italian) barely left my lips at a local restaurant when he pointed us in the direction of the B&B; I guess lots of other tourists get stuck in the same pickle. 

We got checked in by the B&B's owner's mother.  We didn't understand a single Italian word she said, but smiled and figured that the key unlocked the door, there was a bathroom, and a breakfast.  We dropped our stuff and headed out for dinner.  We settled on the restaurant that gave directions.  Not much exploring the first night, we were in bed by 11 pm and out!

The next morning, we met the shop owner and arranged reservations for a restaurant on the island of Burano.  (Fun Fact: Venice is an island in of itself, but is also surrounded by smaller islands considered to be "part" of Venice.  All of them are reachable via public transportation).  Before our trip, I had done the most important research necessary for a trip like this, I watched all the Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern shows on Netflix.  Between No Reservations and Bizarre Foods, I was prepared to EAT!  I was bound and determined to go to Da Romano in Venice.
We walked from our B&B to the other side of the island to catch a ferry to Burano.  We boarded the ferry and we on our way to eating some delicious seafood.  The island was absolutely gorgeous, but we had a reservation to make, so we hurried to the restaurant and made it just on time to our outdoor table.  This was going to be one of our splurges of the trip, so we ordered the seafood platter, knowing that it would be quality, along with (of course) the fish risotto.
Misc. sea foodieness delish

Polenta and sardine with onions, and mussels and clams

Badass Da Romano kitchen

Inside of the restaurant with all the art

Cute patio, where we ate.
After lunch we walked around Burano for a bit:

When we decided to leave Burano, we spotted a water bus being boarded.  Being the spaz that I am, I insisted that we run after it and hop on.  We hopped on and realized it was going the wrong way.  Water buses do not work like regular buses, there is not a stop 1/4 of mile down the street where you can hop off, cross the street and re-board.  No, we had to get off on another island (not a tourist island, just some place where people live) and wait.  I grew sleepy and irritated, Alex grew hyper-- foreshadowing.

We finally made it back to the main island and continued our trek.  It was decided we would go to Lido, the beach island, for sunset.  We stopped at a grocery store and bought some proscuitto, peaches, and bread for our snack/dinner (the risotto was super filling) and made our way to the Jewish ghetto (a relic from WWII).  I didn't know much about the Jewish ghetto, it was just a site to see on our map.  Its a living, breathing neighborhood, without as much history as I would have hoped for. 

We then made our way towards Lido on a water bus.  Lido was a lively, local-filled island.  We crossed the island from the port side to the beach side and made our way down a jetty-like boardwalk.  This is where and when Alex proposed to me.  It was quite sweet and romantic and honestly, I am going to keep the deets to myself :)

After getting over the fear that the ring didn't fit over my sausage-esque fingers swimming with water retention from my salty diet (and I shoved that baby on, even if I risked losing a purple finger from it), we went back to the main island and my finger lost some water weight.  We sent out happy emails and called it a night.

Upon an insider tip from a friend studying aboard in Venice, Alex and I attended mass at Basilica San Marco.  Its a beautiful, yet small, cathedral known for its obnoxiously long lines.  We wore some appropriate attire (cover the knees and shoulders) and entered on the far left side with the secret password "messa".  The inside of the church was breathtaking.  I was apprehensive about taking photos, but other cameras were flashing and clicking, so you know (like your parents told you not to do) I joined the crowd!

The detailed ceiling

Down the center of the church, with a better setting on my camera
After mass, we joined my friend in Piazza San Marco for a cappicuino at one of Venice's most famous cafes.
We then spent the day wandering Venice, seeing churches, and poking our heads into shops:
The grand canal

The entrance to Piazza San Marco

Another view of the Grand Canal and all the docks

A teeny-tiny Venetian street

Tourists on a gondola ride

The Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge

A Ukrainian Art exhibit, part of Biennale

Take a closer look!

Omg! I was so relieved to find pizza suitable for an American palate

Add caption

Le Sigh

Nutella gelato sporting my new bling

After our day of exploration, we joined my friend and her roommates for a delightful Italian "tapas" style dinner on their rooftop terrace.  It was a lovely end to a beautiful weekend in Venice.  We headed back to the B&B quite late to prepare for our morning departure.

No comments:

Post a Comment