We arrived in Venice after 9 insane hours on the night train from Munich to Venice and this is what we saw...
Why, you ask, was the night train so bad?
Let me count the ways... First we couldn't get a private cabin, so we stayed awake waiting for our cabin mates to board the train at the next stop after us. They turned out to be two young Indian guys who slept the entire time, so they were fine. Second the train rolled and bounced around a lot and was super hot and loud, so we were in and out of sleep a lot in the night. Finally, in Verona at about 4:00 AM the train came to a stop. We could hear someone walking around in the car and the suddenly our door slides open very quietly and slowly. We had locked it with the chain, so it only went a couple inches. Then the person stuck their hand way inside, and was feeling around for anything to grab. It was a thief! I yelled "hey" and kicked the door. The angry would-be looter kicked back and then walked away. But after that we were WIDE awake, traumatized from almost being robbed. Thank goodness our door was locked! Anyway, enough complaining, on to the good stuff!
We arrived at the Venice train station tired, hungry, and gross from the train, but 100% excited to be there. We bought tickets for a water bus (the only water bus tickets we bought the whole time because they never check them) and got on a water bus down the grand canal.
It was early in the morning, so the quiet canal was spectacular. It felt like a movie set or a dream (maybe because we were so tired). We got off the water bus at the San Marco stop and navigated the tiny streets to our hotel using directions I found on Trip Adviser (life saver). Then after tons of tiny turns, there it was!
We checked in to the hotel, but found out our room would not be ready until 2:00 PM. Boo! So we freshened up in the lobby bathroom, left our bags with the concierge, and set out to Venice by foot.
We got come cappuccino and sweet rolls for breakfast, and then wandered over the Accademia Bridge.
We saw that the Accademia Museum was open, so we decided to check it out. The museum was really interesting -- famous artists included Titian, da Vinci, Carpaccio, and many more. However, the art we later saw in Florence and Rome blew the Accademia away. But since this was our first Italian art museum we enjoyed it a lot.
We left the museum and suddenly Venice had come alive! Tons of tourists were out and about (many from the cruise ships in port). So we got back on the water bus with them and headed to Rialto.
As we cruised down the grand canal I continued to take 100s of pictures of the amazing old palaces.
We walked across the famous Rialto bridge and took the obligatory pictures along with the 1000s of other tourists.
The Rialto neighborhood had tons of shopping and lots of overpriced food. We quickly learned that you should not eat at any restaurant that has a menu translated into 5 languages.
However, about a five minutes walk north of the Rialto bridge we found a some adorable small streets.
And on these more "off the tourist path" streets we found inexpensive food and cheap bottled water.
Look how excited I was about my water!
Also, near Rialto The Mr. and I and developed something that served us well throughout our stay in Italy. We called it “the gelato index.” It works like this... if you see gelato for sale for more than 1.90 euros per scoop, then you're in a pricey neighborhood, so you should not buy food (or gelato) in that neighborhood. It really works! Note: the cheapest gelato we found in Italy was 1.30 per scoop!
So we bought some gelato and brought it back to the banks of the grand canal to enjoy. There is a great place to sit on some steps near the Rialto bridge.
We loved just sitting there people and boat watching.
(Note: If we look a little rough in these pictures, remember that we had not showered and had only had about 4 hours of sleep total).
We then wandered back toward the hotel. We contemplated doing a gondola ride, but we just couldn't justify spending 60 Euros for what seemed like a 20-minute Disneyland ride. But hey, that's just us!
Look how packed the gondolas were in this canal. Not romantic if you ask me. If we had done a gondola ride we definitely would have tried to find one off the beaten path.
We checked into our hotel and upgraded us to a sweet suite! All that traveling that I do for work really paid off in Europe because not only did we use Starwood Points to pay for most of our hotels, we also got some upgrades!
After we took showers The Mr. went to get dressed and he couldn't find any of his clean underwear, socks, or undershirts. We suddenly realized that he'd left ALL of it in a drawer in our hotel in Munich! Ahhh! We called Munich and had them ship the clothes to Rome and made plans to do laundry in Florence. Then I set out across Venice to try to find The Mr. some underclothes, which is not an easy task since Venice shopping is mainly Gucci, Armani, D&G, and Prada. I did finally find some underclothes that were moderately priced after walking a looong way.
So 30 euros and a lot of stress later, The Mr. and I got dressed for a nice dinner on the town.
In the lobby of the Westin I ran into some actors dressed as 15th century Venetians for some party. So of course I took a picture with them.
Earlier in the day we had done some research on Trip Adviser for where to eat dinner, and found a good looking place in a plaza not too far from our hotel, called A Beccafico. We knew that just picking a random restaurant in St. Marks would ensure that we got expensive, rip-off, low quality food.
A Beccafico was amazing! The waiters loved us and kept bringing us dishes, like bruschetta "on the house" and even gave us free limoncello.
The food we ordered was delicious! We feasted on prosciutto with melon, caprice salad, and risotto del mare. The seafood was super fresh! We enjoyed our food with regional white wine and capped off the meal with yummy cannoli. Definitely one of the best nights in Europe.
Next up? More Venezia! I just couldn't squeeze it in one post.
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14 hours ago