Part 09: Venice, Italy | Europe, 2015
So, after our quick day in Vienna, now with art hangovers, we took the train for about six hours (through the gorgeous countryside in Vienna! Note to self: go back there) to Venice. Ah, Venice. Venice during a heatwave. Venice when half the world is also visiting Venice. lol. But really, guys, Venice was nuts. A beautiful chaos of people.
We usually try to avoid crowds in our travels, but it’s inevitable here. Also, kind of a must-see city in my mind. And the view from the train coming into Venice, where the land gives way to the water and all these beautiful little ‘islands’ of floating buildings appear, instead, is the best. We got there, stretched our legs, had a beer, and then set out trying to navigate the maze that is Venice without a map. We had two days here, we made it count:
So, we had to get a map right away. We got lost. Pretty much, you should probably enjoy wandering if you come here. lol. It feels designed that way: like a video game, with all kinds of dead-ends and roads that end in water! I love that kind of thing, though. Plus, I enjoyed just looking at every building and courtyard and peel of paint (as can tell from the nerdy 'all buildings, all the time’ photos I took). I just love Italy. There’s something about it. And, here, when your feet are tired and espresso isn’t helping, you can get around by water taxi, too. We both walked and water taxied a ton. We stayed at budget hotel Hotel San Salvador (it was the cutest! I highly suggest it if you want a small place that feels authentic and is run by the cutest, nicest family) for two nights. It’s right next to the famous Rialto Bridge. Right away, we strolled down to the famous Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square that night, and caught the sunset from further down, looking back at the city. Sigh. We also managed, after so much looking, to find a secret bar that nobody else was at in some alleys and had some really good over-priced prosecco and prosciutto, but it was just us.
The next day was our first full day in the city: we spent forever looking for a coffee place that was off the main drag (like, made it our mission), and we ended up finding a cafe that locals frequented. Then we walked a lot, saw a lot of churches, tried a real cannoli, walked through the fish market. We saw so much, I can’t remember it all—and, yet, not even half of what was there! Some of the highlights were the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari church with it’s famous Bellini painting, the Church of Saint Roch (which I tried to see but was kicked out of for my normal summer attire) and, next to that, the amazing Scuola Grande di San Rocco, which is pretty much three floors filled with Tintoretto paintings, that he started painting in 1560 and added to over many years. In the main room, the ceiling is so detailed that you can walk around with a mirror and check all the parts of the painting out. Amazing! Also, we had no idea what kind of ‘clubhouse’ this seemed to be when we were there—because it did feel like one—but the top floor had walls and walls full of relics. We're talking, like, little pieces of Saint’s bones, labelled in painstakingly small writing on gold-guilded trophy-like cases. It was amazing! Intriguing! The stuff of movies! We spent a lot of time peering at those tiny pieces of bone, kept so guarded. It was super-cool. We were in there forever reading all the teeny labels.
When we were spent from sightseeing, we had beers in the park for a break, and then hopped on a water taxi for a scenic route around the whole outer South-Western side of Venice, for about an hour we cruised along for a different perspective: I’ll never get over how strange—and cool—it is to see buildings right on the water, with no land buffer. lol. It’s so strange, to me! I believe we had a nap, which is customary at four pm, and then that night we tried to find a quiet restaurant in an attempt to find good food in a city where the food is infamously not so good: the delicacy here is Sarde in Saor (marinated sardines) and Cuttlefish (in black ink), so we tried that at the Ristorante Venezia Poste Vecie (old post office)—which we found through some alleyways, thinking it was off the beaten path, and then walked out the front door realizing it wasn’t! lol. The best part, though? When we grabbed a bottle of Prosecco and walked over to sit on the edge of the water by the Punta della Dogana, looking out over the water way past dark.