Sunday, October 31, 2010

Charmed in Venice

We arrived in Venice after a long train and bus ride. We were tired. But that didn't decrease our excitement. I don't know what it is. But there's something so exciting about being there! This crazy city of water, glowing in the night. So gorgeous. Definitely more than just pretty! Here's our faces after getting on the Vaporetto (Venice's water taxi) on the Grand Canal:

Tired. But excited! I took lots of photos on the water taxi. Too many. Here's just a few:

You'll see we were greeted by a full moon over the city. How much more perfect can it get? I was utterly charmed by Venice. We made our way to the hotel, through San Marco Square, charmed even further by the musicians at the different restaurants, each taking their turn playing classic Italian tunes (the stuff we all recognize like "That's Amore"). We dropped off our things, then went for an evening walk. Our hotel was right by San Marco Square, the heart of a lot of activity. We had some great lasagna on that first night in Italy. Really good. Maybe the best I've ever had. Andrew thought that was too bold of a statement. Maybe I was just tasting Venice with an extra dose of positivity because I was so excited. That night our first walk was wonderful. There were so many shops all over the place, all carrying pretty and interesting things. Tons of beautiful Venetian glass. I kept a mental shopping map in my head, scouting out the best stuff for when I was ready to buy a souvenir. No joke. On our last day, I made a beeline for this shop where the lady who runs it sits there and makes her glass bead creations while you shop. Her stuff was great. I got a necklace with round glass beads, in turquoise, seafoam green, gold and taupe tones. I love it!

On that first night we also scouted out a whole lot of gelato. TONS of it. Everywhere! And it was pretty cheap. We had some on our first night, of course. Andrew got the cookie gelato (vanilla with chocolate swirls and chocolate cookies) and he asked the guy scooping, his childish smile glowing, "Can I have a cookie?" The guy obliged, "You want a cookie? Sure!" and put one on top of his scoop. Before we left Venice, I had tried chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and cherry. I decided my favorite was a double combo scoop, 1 chocolate, 1 cherry.

The next morning, we woke up sorta early, headed out of our hotel, walked the few steps toward San Marco. And saw that it was flooding. I guess during high tide or something (or the rains) the water backs up in the drains so the square gets flooded with an inch or two of water. We turned around and headed the other direction. We found a little cafe, grabbed a sandwich for breakfast, then meandered through the very confusing streets to catch the water taxi to the other islands. Luckily we found the spot for the taxi:

We had time to kill, though, until the next vaparetto, so we explored the neighborhood where we were at.

This doggy reminded us so much of Maisy, trailing after these girls with it's nose up in the air because they were eating something. Every dog we see makes us miss our babies!

A pretty little alley.

The steps going into one of the small canals.

Even the worn and torn looks pretty in Venice!

I loved these light fixtures and this gate.

We eventually caught our taxi and headed out to Torcello (one of the smaller, less-inhabited islands).

Andrew excited at seeing something out the window of the water taxi.

Andrew laughing at me about something. So cute!

Beautiful clouds in the sky.

We ate lunch in Burano. It was very pretty there.

Finally we made it to Torcello!

Me laughing at something Andrew said or did.

Andrew decided we needed more pictures of me, so that's what we have.

Me on the devil's bridge. Love it! Want one!

I loved the crackling paint on this building and the shutters.

Beautiful, very old, very untouched city.

Us at the very old church.

More of the same.

A small vineyard behind us.

The water was like glass!

Andrew on the way back to San Marco. Looking cool.

Beautiful street lamps, beautiful everything!

They really dig Jesus here. It's hard to NOT take a picture of something relating to Christianity.

Gorgeous views everywhere you turn.


So, Venice was really nice. But I do have to admit, I wasn't in love with how touristy the whole place is. Every restaurant has guys out in front of it trying to sweet talk you to come in. They have cover charges. And they give you smaller, more expensive meals the closer to the canals and tourist sights you are. Of course that is to be expected to some degree. But it was pretty severe here. If/when we go back, we'd like to see and stay in other areas that aren't so crowded and touristy (are there any?). We were completely shocked with the crowds in San Marco after seeing it for the first time later in the evening. It was crazy during the day and rampant with annoying guys sticking their roses and plastic flying toys and light up toys and balloons and umbrellas (it was raining a little) in our faces. We got pretty rude by the end of the first day. Those guys got a swift, loud, stern "NO" from both of us, simultaneously, before they even finished asking if we wanted to buy whatever crap they were peddling.

We went to Florence next. Getting there sucked. The trains were all full so we were stuck at the station with our luggage for 4 hours. We begged conductors to let us on the earlier trains ("Please? We'll just sit in the vacant seats. We know not everyone makes the train they book!") but it didn't work. We didn't love the Italians that night. That attitude isn't so amusing when it's being aimed at you. We ended up eating a long, leisurely dinner and we did get on the train that was 1-hour earlier than scheduled. And our "waiting around sucks" attitude also brought to our attention some other negative traits of the Italians. People seem to be completely unconcerned for those around them. And they all rush to get up when a train or bus or when the water taxi is about to come to a stop (or to get on one, or to get in line, or to do jut about anything). They rush to get up stand a few inches closer than they were before, to elbow their way a whopping 3 people ahead of where they were. Not subtly, either. It's REALLY pushy sometimes. Annoyingly pushy. I've spent a good amount of time in New York. It's fast moving and crowded and you'd better pay attention and move along with the flow there. But it's not the same kind of thing. It's likely someone will say something to you if you're not keeping up in NY. But from what we saw of the Italians, it's like you don't exist, even if you ARE keeping up... there's always someone who wants to edge you out. In New York, that behavior would probably be corrected to a certain extent. You'd probably get a "Hey buddy, whatsya problem?" or "Hey buddy, you need ta relax!" I wanted to say that quite a few times in Italy. Only a little more colorfully! Luckily, when we visited the Sistine Chapel Michaelangelo taught me a rude Italian hand gesture I can use. Will explain that one later. FYI, art history can be friggin awesome!!!!

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