Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Europe Trip 2010, Part 4: Venice (the first half)

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.

Just joining the Europe recaps? See them all here.


Chardonnay said...

I just got back from Europe and loved Venice! It was beautiful and so unique. We were there on June 2 :)

ami @ elizabeth anne designs said...

i love all of your venice photos! i've just caught up with the recaps up til now and it made me feel like i was back there. it's a great city with great gelato. :)

Sonya said...

That would not be a fun train trip! My husband forgot clean underwear on a recent trip so every time we go somewhere now I always ask if he's packed it! Of course we were at least close to shopping so it wasn't too bad!

the BLAH BLAH BLAHger said...

1) Had you ever had limoncello before?


2) Did you freaking love it?

On my last trip there, I feel in love with the stuff...especially if it's ice cold. Mmmmm!

Lindsay said...

This trip looks breathtaking! SO jealous!

Jess said...

Oh, those pictures make me want to drive to the airport and take the first plane to Italy. I'm LOVING this recap!!!

flip flops on lex said...

Hi! I'm a lurker (sometimes commenter) and just thought I'd comment on your Europe pics. They are great and it looks like you had a lot of fun. I was recently in London and have been posting pics as well. Feel free to check them out.

Crazy Shenanigans said...

Wow! It's sounding amazing! I'm glad you were able to get his clothing back from the other hotel and that you weren't robbed on the train!

Becky said...

I know exactly how you feel about the overnight trains. I took one BY MYSELF from Munich to Rome and I didn't sleep at all. It was awful!!!

Glad you enjoyed Venice. I absolutely love it there. Glad you had such a good time.

Belle said...

So fun! Loving all of your trip recaps! I can't believe what happened with that stupid thief! So glad the door was locked! I love the video you took of the suite- points are just fabulous!

Meghan said...

Great pictures and the gelato index thing is hilarious! I have taken a few overnight trains in Europe, and while they are convenient, they can be stressful. Glad you were able to scare the thief away!

Shoshanah said...

I went to Venice back in high school and we did take a gondola ride. We were all excited because out of all the gondola we got the one with the hot gondolier. Of course he wound up spending most of the ride talking on his cell phone, which was kind of funny since it felt so out of place.

kanishk said...

This trip looks breathtaking! SO jealous!
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