Ciao, ciao!! You guys are so great…thanks for your kind comments yesterday, and sharing your own travel nightmares with me. It’s nice to know I’m not the only
freak one! But because of that ‘hiccup,’ we unexpectedly spent the first night of our trip in London. I was bummed about losing a night in Venice, but it was a great chance to sleep and get acclimated to the new time zone. Which was a good thing, considering the remaining trip to Venice required a flight to Milan, bus to Milano Centrale train station, and 2.5 hour train to Venice. And from there, we took a boat to our hotel! Talk about Planes, Trains & Automobiles!
But it was all worth it to experience this….
The train deposits you directly on the island, and the Grand Canal awaits just outside the station. The scene looks like a typical busy street in Europe, until it registers that the street is actually water, and the cars are boats.
There is nothing but cobbled sidewalks, and canals…not even bikers and skateboarders are allowed. It’s amazing to watch the locals go about every day life, by just foot or boats. Even construction crews worked out of boats carrying equipment. And these aren’t barges either, since most canals are only 12-feet across and have low foot-bridges.
It didn’t take us long to track down our first gelato…not a difficult task since gelaterias are everywhere. And yes, it’s sooooo good. Although, I’m sure strolling through Italy while slurping your cone has some effect on it’s flavor.
We walked most everywhere, with no destination or map, but the vaporettos are an easy and efficient public transportation system. They work similar to a subway, with each numbered boat line labeled by it’s final stop. After buying a pass (this is an honor system, our tickets were never checked), you wait on the platform until the water ferry pulls up, then hop off again at your chosen stop. They run mostly up-and-down the Grand Canal, and you walk the back canals.
The fancy little boats are private taxis, and pretty expensive.
I was also amazed at how clean the city is…occasionally you smell the canal, and the buildings are beautifully patinated, but there was not a piece of trash anywhere.
Tourist season is just starting, so there were a lot of people in the main squares and around the famous sites, like St. Marks Square and the Rialto Bridge. Gelato helped to tune them out.
But if you wander in the opposite direction, away from the main squares, you can easily find quiet alleys. This is where you’ll feel the magic of Venice.
There are no supermarkets, only small stores carrying essentials, so the daily outdoor market is where the locals come for produce, olives, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh fish.
Yes it’s touristy, and a little gimmicky, but we splurged for a gondola ride…and it’s completely worth it! The gondoliers are part of a union of sorts, so you’ll pay the same (80 euros for 45-minutes) with most any of them. Some are pushier than others, so we chose a
cute guy who kept his boat off the beaten path, and had a relaxed vibe about him. We also chose late afternoon, so we could see everything. He rowed us through quiet back canals, and across the Grand Canal…navigating the gondola as smoothly and easily as a car. He even sang a little, in a non-creepy way, and I totally swooned. There may have been some smooching going on.
food. Basically, avoid any restaurant located directly on a main square,
or with pictures of food on the menu. Just wander a few blocks away,
and you’ll find places too-cute-to-be-true. And yes, the wine is cheaper than soda, and you’ve never tasted pizza or pasta so good. Really.
|Pizza is served whole, and un-cut, and eaten with a knife and fork. And don’t ask for ranch dip. You won’t need it anyway.|
The romance of the city, coupled with the extra attention Mr. Sugarplum lavished on me (he was still shell-shocked), made our two nights in Venice perfect and unforgettable. Maybe I should pass out more often.