Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade
winds in your sails. Explore! Dream! Discover!
( Mark Twain )
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Ahhh.....Venice! Our First Two Days
Our travel day on Sunday started very early, our taxi to the airport in Paris picked us up at 4:30 am. Our Easy-Jet flight from Paris to Venice left from a different airport than we flew into, and it was much smaller and easier to navigate. We were all checked in with plenty of time to spare, so settled in at our departure gate with our Nooks and a couple of espressos. Oh--and one last panne chocolate! As sad as we are to leave Paris, we are very excited about our time in Venice.
After a very uneventful 1 1/2 hour flight, we landed at Marco Polo Airport in Venice. It was a beautiful, warm sunny day; we sure have lucked out with the weather this trip!
Transport into and around Venice is interesting, to say the least! From the airport we took a bus to Piazzale Roma, just on the edge of the islands of Venice. From there we took a vaporetto, which is a water bus! There are absolutely no cars in Venice proper, the only transport options are walking, vaporetto or private water taxi, which is very expensive. Oh, there are also gondolas, but I think they’re used only by tourists--and NOT by these two tourists!
We had a V-E-R-Y stressful trip from the airport to Venice proper. We were running late to meet Marco, the owner of our apartment. I couldn’t make our new cell phone work, and to top all that off, we got lost! It was NOT fun pulling a suitcase through thousands of people in San Marco Square. The area around the square is wall to wall people, and we both thought "what have we gotten ourselves into?"
I might as well admit, I had a small meltdown. OK, maybe not so small--I'll just call it like it was and say it was a major meltdown! According to David, I was a witch-on-wheels, and he might even be right. As usual, he wisely remained mostly silent, offering calm and reasonable suggestions to solve our problem. Men!! I just don't understand them sometimes........
But we finally managed to find the tourist office. They kindly helped us with our phone, and told me that I needed to dial a "00" before the country code and 9 digit number and all was well! Marco met us at the vaporetto stop, escorted us to our apartment and checked us in. Whew!
We really lucked out with this apartment! It’s huge, spotlessly clean and in a great, easy to find location near a vaporetto stop. We quickly unpacked and hit the street--we needed some lunch and a cold beer or two! We found a little cafe just a few doors down, chose a panini and a couple of beers and finally relaxed for the first time all day! We sat by a nice couple from Connecticut and enjoyed swapping travel stories. Here's the view own the charming street, right from where I sit:
(I took this picture at about 7 a.m., just as the cafe owners and shop keepers were arriving. By about 9 a.m. this street will be full of people)
Now for some exploring! Venice is just amazing, full of tiny passages, narrow canals and lovely piazzas and campos. We wandered around, very carefully noting how to get back to our apartment. We joked about leaving a breadcrumb trail--but I’m sure the pigeons would eat them, and then we’d still be lost!
We decided to eat dinner out the first night, as the market had been closed on Sunday afternoon so we had no groceries, AND after the morning we'd had, there was no way I was going to cook dinner! We chose a small outdoor restaurant down a narrow winding passageway a few doors down from our apartment. They had a prix fix menu with some interesting choices, and the price seemed reasonable. Hmmmm, not so reasonable after they add on the service charge of 7.50E each AND a charge of 5E for water! So for a grand total of 65 Euros (about $85) we had a very mediocre meal of pasta,a small green salad, and a small serving of veal for me and calamari for David. We looked at the wine li$t, just looked. Thankfully, they didn’t charge us for looking at that wine li$t! Lesson learned: always look for the copertino (cover charge). I think we'll be eating dinner "in" from now on, we are not the Rockefellers, you know!
So Monday morning, our first trip out was to the Rialto market. It’s a vaporetto ride (of course) and about 5 stops from our apartment. It’s a great market with beautiful produce. We bought some green beens, fruit, some really delicious salad greens, and another head of that yummy romanesco that we had in Paris. We found a butcher shop, and bought two stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in prosciutto. Here’s our dinner tonight, much tastier than last nights, and about 1/4 the cost!
After bringing our groceries back, we headed right back out to find the internet store to buy a 3G internet USB key. I even managed to get the software installed, and it’s up and running. Now about that speed........
Uploading pics to this blog is seriously slow and painful. I’m hoping it’s just the time of day--maybe it will be faster in the morning. If not, you’ll be seeing fewer pics until we get home!
Our afternoon was spent wandering a new area--we just picked a vaporetto stop and explored from there. We found a beautiful church. As we expected, very different architecture here than in France. There is heavy use of marble, many frescos, and very little stained glass. Unfortunately, none of the churches we’ve gone into have allowed any photography. We are hoping this is not the case all over Italy, because we'd love to share them with you. Here are just a few other pics to give you a small touch of Venice:
Cruising down the Grand Canal, this pic is taken from the front of the vaporetto.
A lovely street, with some laundry hanging out. We see this all over Venice--I don't think dryers are common here.
And here we are on one of the many bridges crossing the many canals in Venice! Have I mentioned all the steps on those bridges? We are hoping all that up and down is burning off just some of that gelato we're going to eat!
Most of the streets are filled with shops, some touristy and some that are obviously more for the locals.
Of course we went into a lot of them, and I did find a lovely navy leather pocketbook that will be coming home with me. Shoes? Oh, yes--lots of shoes to look at! Haven't bought any here yet, but you never know.......
We also popped into a couple of small grocery stores--very interesting. Holy Moly--it's very expensive here! That's because everything that comes into Venice (or goes out--like laundry, garbage, etc) has to be transported by hand cart, then boat. A very interesting way of life. for sure.
After our nice dinner, we relaxed with a couple of new beers--a Dinkle and a Dunkle! They were both pretty good:
Not counting our extremely stressful first morning in Venice, we are both really enjoying our wanderings, just taking in the beautiful architecture and watching people go about their every day life. Everywhere we look, there is something amazing to see. On Tuesday we plan on going to the fish market, and then to the Leonardo da Vinci museum. Our plans for the rest of the week include a boat ride to the island of Murano, a long held dream of mine--glass heaven! We are also planning on going to the island of Burano (lace is their specialty), and visiting several more churches. Stay tuned!