Thursday, March 5, 2015

#392 Venice

After a bit of confusion regarding train tickets, we were on our way to Venice.  (Better legroom on the train!) 

The name of their trains.  Hee hee.  Looks like genitalia.  

The lines to buy tickets at the train station ticket windows are very long.  You pull a number like you’re at the deli and wait for them to call it.  (I got some cold cuts!!)  There are also automated ticket kiosks, which are even more confusing.  I tried to buy tickets but it looked like the time I wanted was sold out, but then it turned out that was for first class.  Agh!  I preferred to talk to a human to make sure we were going to the right place. 

We left Milan at 8:35 a.m. and arrived in Venice just after 11 a.m.  I had printed directions to each of our hotels.  This one was way off.  It had us going in the exact opposite direction of our actual hotel.  It was near 80 degrees and we were dragging our luggage over cobblestone streets and up and down stairs. 

I am not afraid to ask for directions.  I went into a bus station and asked at the counter.  The woman probably gets asked for directions a million times a day and was none too happy to see me.  Her response to me was an emphatic, “Go back to the train station!”  Okay…

We finally walked toward a canal and asked a water taxi driver for a ride.  His response?  “Why take a taxi?  You can walk from here!”  He gave us easy directions and saved us some money.  I later learned water taxis cost around $40-$50. 

We made it to the hotel around 12:30 p.m.  This one was really pretty –the Pallazzo Cendon Piano Antico.  Very quaint, small, but cozy, and if you stick your head out the window, you can see a canal!

View from our hotel window

After dropping off our bags we spent the rest of the day wandering around.  A.k.a. - getting lost.  That’s what you do in Venice.  It’s a bunch of small streets all strung together.  Most of them do not have street signs so even though you have a map, you have no idea where you are.  We just enjoyed looking at all of the shops.  We quickly found a cute shop with scarves and each bought one. 

Then we noticed the purses.  Well, I noticed the purses.  Leather everywhere!  I decided to get one for my niece, Megan.  I wanted just the right one.  Medium color, smallish in size with a long strap.  I also wanted it to have a “Made in Italy” and fleur-de-lis stamp.  After stopping at maybe 20 shops, I finally found the perfect one.  Although after I bought it, I couldn’t resist looking now and then at others to check the prices.  Julie just shook her head when I would stop to look at another purse. 

We took a break for lunch and had focaccia pizza and our daily gelato.  They had all types of flavors, but I stuck with my favorite – chocolate.  I think once I might have branched out with chocolate with hazelnut. 

We had a photo op at the famed Rialto Bridge.  We then found a restaurant that had a tourist special of a three-course dinner for 15 euros.  Caffe Centrale.  It was right on the Grand Canal.  I asked the waiter if the price was “for real.”  Haha  He was very cute and resembled Mr. Magoo from the cartoons. 

Linda on the Rialto Bridge

Dinner along the canal

My first course was a salad, followed by spaghetti with seafood (mussels, tiny shrimp, calamari and squid), followed by sea bass.  And bread.  Must have bread!  What a beautiful view! 

I ate every bite.  Even the squid!

My view from our dinner table.  

After dinner the waiter gave us directions to the Aman Canal Grande Hotel, which was right down the canal from our restaurant.  That is where George Clooney was getting married in a few days.  The canal walkway ended soon after our hotel so we had to head back into the streets.  We were still looking for the hotel when we heard thunder and saw lightning light up the sky like the Fourth of July.  The sky was really dark and the clouds were churning, so we decided to head back to the hotel.  Although we had no idea which way to go.

Venice is in the shape of a fish, and you’re either on the inside or the outside, with the Grand Canal running through the middle.  We were inside and needed to get outside.  A kind man told us to look for the street signs for the train station, so we did that and it was very helpful.  We knew how to find out hotel from the train station.  We started running and made it back just before it started to hail.  Whew!  It was early (maybe 8 p.m.) so we tried to watch TV.  The cable wasn’t working well so we showered and went to bed. 

Our train left at noon the next day so we decided to take an early gondola ride.  Before heading out, we had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel.  I had a croissant with ham and cheese, cereal and a kiwi. 

We got to the gondola when it opened around 9 a.m. and took a 30-minute ride with Stefano, a fifth-generation gondolier.  He was really cute and gave us a narrative of the city as it slowly drifted by.  Before each little speech he would say, “Look at me!”, when I think he meant “Listen to me.”  

Each time I would turn my head to look at him anyway.  At one point he pointed out a church where Marco Polo was buried – San Lorenzo.  I tried to explain to him about our swimming pool game in the United States but he just looked confused.  We also saw some really old Venetian blinds. 

We walked around more after the boat ride and found a very pretty little neighborhood and park area.  There are so many streets, canals and other islands around Venice that I would love to explore more someday. 

Venice is how I imagined Italy would look.  Milan was nice, but as I mentioned in my previous post, more European looking.  Venice has the colorful buildings, the small, winding cobblestone streets, and, of course, the canals. 

Our train to Cinque Terre left around Noon so we headed back to the train station.  This time we knew how to find it. 

1 comment:

  1. Venice is a unique city. In y opinion different from any other place not only in Italy but everywhere. I like your reports. Last but not least, it's always interesting to see how foreigners imagine your own country.