Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dreamlike Venice

September 3: Today we left our Roman apartment at 9:15am to catch the train to the main train station in Rome, where we would catch a different train to Venice. We got there in what we thought was plenty of time. Went into the little grocery store to buy some sandwiches, chips, and water for lunch during the six hour train ride and then took a seat. When the board finally showed which platform our train was taking off from, we realized that we were on the total opposite side of the station! With 10 minutes before the train departed, we hustled to the other end trying to find how to get to platform six! The train station was so poorly marked and there was no one to ask for help! With only two minutes to spare, we made it on the train; thank goodness there was a five-minute delay!

The six hour train ride was actually quite pleasant. The seats were comfortable and it was great to get to see a lot of the country out of the windows! We arrived and once again were staying in a rented apartment. With Google translated directions in hand, we walked 20 minutes to the apartment. To our surprise, the place was fantastic! Two bedrooms, large bathroom, living room and a full kitchen all to ourselves! The host was very sweet. She didn’t speak English, so when she was giving us instructions, Andrew and I put our charade skills to use. Italian is pretty similar to Spanish, and with our combined knowledge, we were able to communicate ok. The only downside to this place, no wi-fi. Boo.
She left and we went to the grocery store to buy a few things. We decided to cook dinner because I was craving some protein. I mean, I adore my carbohydrates, but enough is enough! We decided to make a chicken and spinach salad and sip on some $2.00 wine!

September 4: The apartment is located just outside of Venice. It’s in a quiet, non-touristy neighborhood that makes us really feel like locals! We are only a ten-minute walk from the bus stop and an easy ten-minute bus ride into the heart of Venice.
Our romantic gondola ride!

Venice is just like in the movies! A dreamlike city built around canals. Instead of cars, there are boats and gondolas, and the streets are lined with souvenir shops and cafes. Love, love, love! We had read that Venice is very difficult to navigate even with a map. Well, leave it to Magellan. We had a crappy photocopied map but he got us around just fine. We spent the day just walking around soaking it all in. We hit the famous Piazza San Marco and it’s beautiful Basilica. We ate a real Italian lunch consisting of pizza and lasagna and then of course, we had to have gelato.

When you think of Venice what’s the first thing you think of? A romantic gondola ride through the canals looking up at colorful apartment buildings lined with beautiful flower beds? Well, that’s what we think of too and that’s what we did! For way too much money, we took a wonderful ride through the canals and under the bridges. It was such a beautiful perspective of the city. I wish it would have lasted all day! Such a dream! After the gondola ride finished, we made our way back to the main entrance to catch the bus back to our apartment.  It was truly a beautiful day!

September 5: On our way out of Venice yesterday, we went to the information counter to ask a few questions and we ended up booking a tour for today! For a very reasonable price, we booked a half-day islands tour. It’s important to remember that Venice is actually an island its self surrounded by other little islands! Our 4.5 hour tour began at 2:30pm from San Marco. So we spent the few hours before walking around Venice and eating the most delicious pizza lunch until it was time to disembark. We boarded the boat with about 75 other tourists and headed to our first island of Murano. Murano is home to the famous Venetian glass blowers. We got off the boat and immediately ushered into a glass blowers shop for a demonstration. It’s truly amazing how they heat and cool and shape the glass into
 anything they can imagine. We saw them create a vase as well as a small horse. Sadly, we didn’t end up buying anything as it would be too hard to make the journey and not break. We were then given about 30 minutes to mosey around before having to board the boat again. The next stop on our tour was the island of Torcello. Torcello was actually the first of all the islands to be inhabited and was once the home of more than 20,000 people. Today, it’s home to only 16! Honestly, there was nothing to see on this small little island but I’m sure it was a bustling little town in it’s prime.

The last stop on the tour was Burano. And wow…it looked straight out of a movie set! An adorable little island known for it’s beautiful lace and different, brightly colored homes. We stopped at a specific shop and met with Olga, the owner of the lace shop. We were given a short demonstration and then were given a chance to look around the store. Such beautiful lace pieces (and for those of you who don’t know, I LOVE LACE!) We spent the next 30 minutes walking the movieesque’ island taking in the beautiful site!

At the end of the tour, we left Venice and caught the bus back to our little town for a bite to eat before calling it a night!

September 6: A “local day,” is what we called it. We spent our last day in Italy living like the locals. We took advantage of the washing machine in our apartment and did all our laundry. We went to the market and picked up ingredients for a picnic lunch. We sat on sheet in the nearby park eating our lunch and playing cards. It was just what we needed! After almost two weeks of being on the move, we took the time to just have no agenda. It’s important to us to build days like this into our travels. Or else the trip just seems to flash by in the blink of an eye it’s hard to truly appreciate all that we’ve seen and experienced. We ended the day by cooking a delicious dinner and preparing ourselves for what Paris has to offer!

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