Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Venice, Italy

The last stop on our trip through Italy was Venice.  If you want to read about our time in Rome or Florence click on the links.

Venice has been on my "must visit list" for a long time.  I love seeing pictures of Venice with all the canals and boats and I couldn't wait to see it in person.

We arrived in Venice at 6:35 pm on November 2nd which happened to be Jake's 30th birthday.  During the train ride I tried calling a few places to make dinner reservations but my phone wouldn't work so Jake took over and found a great place.  We had about an hour and a half to get to our bed and breakfast, drop off our things and then find the restaurant.
We took one of the vaporettos (water bus) to the Rialto Bridge stop and then walked about five minutes to our bed and breakfast.  The "streets" in Venice are very narrow and look more like alleys.  I felt safe walking around but there is a reason why people say to get lost in Venice . . . it is pretty hard not to.  I will say I don't think I ever got us lost when trying to get someplace (which was my goal after seeing how easy it was to get lost).  I used an app that we use every time we travel called Maps.me to help me figure out where we were and it was great.
  Our room overlooked a canal which was really neat and one of the TV channels had a live feed of the canal right by our room.  Our bed and breakfast was about a five minute walk to St. Mark's Square or the Rialto Bridge which are main tourist spots and made it a great location (and easy to find on the map).

After checking into our rooms we walked to dinner.  If you have taught with me or walked with me you know I'm a fast walker and that in general I like to go places with a purpose.  Since I was the navigator of the trip we walked everywhere with a purpose.  Sometimes the others had to remind me to slow down a bit ;).  Sorry!

We had dinner at a great little restaurant.  It lived up to our expectations of not being touristy.  We had great food and our waiter was fun.
After dinner we walked around for a little while before calling it a night.
The picture on the left is the canal by our hotel.  The window after the balcony is our room.  We found a few gondolas.

The next morning we walked to the start of the Grand Canal by the train station.  Rick Steves has an audio guide tour of the Grand Canal.  We got on the vaporetto line number 1 which is the slower line but he talks about all the buildings as you stop so it works perfectly.  It was really foggy this day which was a bummer because we couldn't see very far.

 Everything has to be delivered by boat and then workers use a dolly to take the boxes up and down all the bridges to the businesses (which is why the cost of living is so expensive in Venice).
A really short video of them taking boxes over one of the many bridges.  For a walking city it would be a pain if you had to use a stroller.

 I love all the canals!
 Rialto Bridge

During lunch Jake and I decided to get a little more creative with our picture :).  Love that he does dorky things with me.
 We walked through St. Mark's Basilica.
It was really pretty.  We weren't supposed to take pictures in there but everyone was taking pictures.  We were scolded by a lady who was giving a tour, which was also forbidden because it was supposed to be silent in the church.  I'm all for following rules until the rules don't make sense but don't tell me I'm breaking a rule while you are also breaking a rule.  I bit my tongue and didn't tell her she was also breaking a rule but I thought about it really hard!

We grabbed some gelato and then decided to try to take a gondola ride.  Yes they are cheesy, touristy and expensive but it was a must do for me.  I had read a lot about the hidden rules of getting a great gondola ride.  You were supposed to agree on a route, length and price all before getting on the gondola and if you didn't want the typical touristy one then don't get on one in a super touristy spot.  Well . . . we went to the gondola stand at St. Mark's Basilica, which is probably the most touristy spot in Venice.  I froze.  I couldn't make a decision.  It was 80 Euros for a 45 minute ride or 120 Euros for an hour ride.  I didn't want our ride to be touristy where there is just a train of gondolas and you don't have any privacy and the gondoliers just talk to each other.  We also decided before the trip that we would go on one without Jake's parents even though the price included up to six people in one gondola.

Jake and Janet talked to the gondolier and figured out the path and tried to reassure me that it wouldn't be crowded but I just couldn't decide.  It was a lot of money and I felt like we had one chance to get it right.  Jake's parents decided to go for it and they hopped in one.  We took a few pictures of them leaving and then I finally unfroze and said sure, let's give it a try.  We also didn't want to just follow Jake's parents since that would defeat the point of taking separate gondola.  

Jake got a smile out of me even though we were just fighting about a gondola ride (one of the reasons why I married him is that even in the heat of the moment he can make me smile).

Our Gondola Ride

Remember how I was worried we would be in a long chain of gondolas and it would be crowded and not romantic. I was wrong.  We were completely alone and it was awesome!  Yes it was expensive but it was about the cost of a dinner which usually isn't that memorable but this definitely was and I am so thankful we did it.

We also went at sunset which was great because we were able to get pictures in the light and some after it was dark.

This was our last view while on the gondola.  Not too shabby.

After the gondola ride we walked around for a little while.  We found a place for dinner and made a reservation for about an hour later so we could still see some of the city before dinner.  Once we made it to the restaurant for dinner we realized it was pretty fancy and expensive.  We decided to give it a shot since it got really good reviews.  Soon after we were seated, a huge party was seated close by us and there was a woman sharing her whole life story along with lots of health details in a very loud voice.  It was just too much.  The atmosphere wasn't great and nothing on the menu looked very good so we decided to leave.  It was a little awkward but I'm glad we did.

We found another place for dinner and it was really good.  I had homemade gnocchi (picture on the right) which was excellent.
The next morning we woke up to a little bit of water.  We were wondering what the short tables were in St. Mark's Square the day before and we were thankful for them this morning.

 The line to get into St. Mark's Basilica.

 We took a vaporetto to an island about 5 minutes away and had some great views of Venice.  It was clear, sunny and beautiful!

 Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Square and Basilica
We took a tour of the clock tower.  It was neat to compare this to our tour of the Bern clock tower.

After the clock tower tour we walked around for a bit, got on another vaporetto since it wasn't foggy and headed towards to Accademia Bridge.
 We saw our gondolier from our ride the night before.

 Jake read about a gondola repair shop and he was hoping we could walk through it but it wasn't open to the public.  So we walked to the other side of the canal and watched them work instead.

We went to Campo San Barnaba to look at a Da Vinci exhibit and this happened to also be a spot where they filmed a scene in Indiana Jones.

 I love the clouds and the sunlight on the buildings.  We are standing on the Accademia Bridge.
 Thought this was neat artwork on the building.
I had a calzone for dinner and everyone else had pizza.  It was really good.
Accademia Bridge at night.
One of the top rated things to do in Venice was a concert so we went to on the night before we headed back home.  It was really good.  I was a little bit afraid I would sleep through it since it was late at night and I was tired (and pregnant) but they did a great job keeping me entertained and awake.  The cellist was very into the music and he was fun to watch. He didn't have any sheet music in front of him for the entire 2 hour concert.
On our way back to the hotel we noticed there was quite a bit of water and some places had walkways already set up.  We learned that the acqua alta or rising water would peak that night and then again 6 hours later.  Jake's parents had an early morning flight so they went to bed but we walked around to check out the water a little bit.
 St. Mark's Square
 Entrance to a hotel that started filling up with water.
 St. Mark's Square
 In front of St. Mark's Basilica
Jake having some fun with the narrow streets.

The next morning Jake's parents left bright and early and thankfully at low tide :) so they could make it out without too much trouble.  Jake and I spent the day touring Doge's Palace and modeling our super sweet, free rain boots our hotel gave us.

Standing on the Bridge of Sighs where prisoners walked to the prison and caught their last glimpse of Venice.

We had a few slices of pizza for lunch and Jake claims it was the best pizza he has ever had.  It was really good.  We went back to the hotel to grab our bags and then get on a boat to the airport.

We had a great time in Italy.  We would both love to go back to Italy but maybe to less touristy city.  I'm thinking more Under the Tuscan Sun type of a place :).

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful travelogue and pictures Kara! certainly makes me want to go back since I was there on a tour just for one afternoon- not nearly enough. and we didn't get to go into St Marks of all places for me to go right?


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