Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Our flight from Paris landed at 8:30pm so we decided to stay the night in Treviso, and go to Venice the next morning. We stayed at the Hotel Continental in the center of Treviso. Right next to the train station. Great old hotel, had kind of a “Shining” vibe but was cool.

Took the train from Treviso to Venice (half hour) and then, because we tend to make life that much more complicated, Andy and I voted to not take the crowded vaporetto ride (there was such a line!) but instead to walk to our hotel. Supposedly the walk from Ferrovia (the train station) to Piazza San Marco (the landmark that our hotel is right behind) would be a fascinating 40 minute walk, according to our European travel guru, Rick Steves. And it was. It took a little longer because we had the bags and weren’t moving so swiftly. It was also very crowded in places, such as the Rialto bridge, and pretty much everywhere from there to San Marco. But the signs on the buildings that point to San Marco were very clear and frequent, and Andy asked me if I’d been there before (I hadn’t and he knew that) because I followed them and found our way so easily. We had trouble only toward the end, in actually locating our hotel because we hadn’t bought a map yet, so I asked two old Venetians who were fabulous and lovely and said a lot of things I didn’t understand, and ultimately we followed there instructions but still didn’t find the place. But, finally, we did.

Venice is a city where you really need a map to know where you are going. Otherwise, you are bound to get lost, again and again. All (tiny, alleyway-like) streets lead to squares, for the most part, but you find yourself turning onto a “street” (again, they are often so small and narrow that they seem more like an alleyway), thinking it’s a dead end, until you see people come around the corner, and then you know that it actually leads somewhere. The only way Andy and I feel is appropriate to describe it, is a tourist-filled crazy funhouse labyrinth, where you might even see the same people over and over… everyone is wandering the streets, looking at maps or just exploring… it’s wild. I don’t think anyone knows where they are going. There are pretty reliable and frequent signs that point to the Rialto Bridge or San Marco, so that’s helpful, but otherwise you just need to enjoy yourself. And we did. It was wild. The whole place is full of tourists, but again, you just need to appreciate Venice for all this, and enjoy it. It seemed pretty safe, and we had a good time.

We rode the vaparetti, which are essentially water buses; we ate wonderful food (make sure to check out our pictures!) and drank great, cheap wine from a wonderful enoteca (Alla Botte right by Calle della Bissa – not the Osteria... just pass by it and turn left). We followed our buddy Rick Steves’ advice on a bunch of restaurants (Trattoria da Giorgio ai Greci on Ponte dei Greci was the best!! We had the most amazing gnocchi with salmon for two, and the freshest and most succulent mussels ever. See pictures!) and had a blast. I will say, that many recommended places (cafes, restaurants) in both Venice and Paris are closed in August for vacations, so that was kind of sad, though I’d been warned about that in Paris. I scoffed, but now I see it’s true. Funnily enough, Rick Steves is a very common resource in Venice especially… I saw no less than 8 other tourists carrying his book, and several in Paris as well. It was hilarious to realize that Andy and I are not the only Rick Steves’ worshipping freaks out there.

We were in Venice from Wednesday until Saturday and we really just wandered, ate and relaxed. We were absolutely beat from Paris, and luckily Venice is small enough to handle easily. We were successful at getting lost several times, off the beaten path and away from the mobs of tourists that roam between Rialto and San Marco. We also each bought a 12 hour vaporetti pass and rode the boat as often as possible, all over Venice. This included a great ride to the island of Lido, which had a very beachy feel. Little did we know that, after eating lunch there, and then walking the 5 blocks or so to the other side of the island, there WAS a beach there… and it was great! The water was warm, the sky and water were so blue and beautiful. We also were shocked to see (in our sweet and innocent and proper American ways) that women were sunbathing topless! What a scandal! But really, it was a great little break and very chill.

Of course, because it was our vacation, it rained a good deal. But we were able to hide in various places, including the arcades around San Marco square. We stood on the covered walkways, drinking wine from our bottle purchased at the enoteca and just watched people. It was a really nice trip.

Saturday came, and we were, by that time, ready to get back to our home in Prague.

We took the vaporetto to the train, to a bus, to a plane, to a bus, to a subway, to a car to home. What a trip!

Venice pics 1

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