Italy part 3: Rainy days in Venice
Hey Everyone, sorry for the delay! Writing blogs while simultaneously getting ready for Christmas and New Years wasn’t easy. Anyways, here’s the final section to the Italian chapter of my semi-recent Europe adventure…Enjoy!
After missing our train to Florence, we made sure to get to the station with plenty of time to catch our train to Venice. We got there on time and boarded the the train, but one of us must have pissed off the transportation gods, because the train was delayed and got to Venice 90 minutes late. Thank goodness Catey, who was in charge of organizing Venice, hadn’t made any plans until later that evening. We tried to get some compensation from the train company (TrenItalia) but they only offered us a 25% discount on our next train ticket (so basically tourists are very easily screwed over).
Despite that slight annoyance, our first evening in Venice was very nice. The weather was cold but sunny. After checking into the hostel, we grabbed a quick, fried lunch (very american as a matter of fact), and explored the city for awhile. Venice is quite a cute little place. It reminds me of a maze, but instead of hedges everywhere, there are canals. It would be the perfect place for a city-wide game of tag, which, incidentally has been a childhood dream of mine (any city will do really, I just want it to happen).
That night Catey had bought us tickets for a gondola ride. It took us awhile to find the place because google maps kept malfunctioning as we walked through the narrow streets. When we finally found the booking office, we joined a group of six for a nice gondola ride along the canals. The ride was pretty fast and our gondolier was very silent, but I throughly enjoyed it. Gliding silently along the canals made me feel like a spy on a mission or something. Mary, on the other hand, who was sitting right next to me, was not happy about being so close to the water (apparently she had had bad experiences with sail boats). However, she made it through the ordeal with her dignity intact for the most part (hey, the dismount was hard for everybody) and we said goodbye to our fellow gondola riders. Night had fallen by the time we finished our ride, but the church mass we were planning on attending hadn’t quite started yet. In order to kill some time, we explored St. Mark’s Plaza. There were a lot of people in the plaza as well as a lot of pigeons even during the night. Several people in the square had handfuls of grain and were offering tourists the chance to feed the pigeons (as long as the tourists paid of course), which I found to be slightly ridiculous as you can feed pigeons with just about anything, not just special ‘pigeon grain’ (they’re not particularly picky eaters).
(sorry for the poor quality, my phone’s a little challenged at times).
At around 6:00, we headed to mass at a small church called San Zaccaria’s. Now, let me just say this, although I am, technically-speaking, Catholic, I never really made much of an effort to go to mass while traveling. So, when Mary became one of my primary travel buddies, I was a tad apprehensive about the whole hassle of finding different masses and churches and then actually attending. But I am so grateful that we did (thanks Mary!). I saw so many breath-taking churches and cathedrals that I never would have otherwise seen, not to mention the fact that I got to hear sermons in entirely different languages. So, a bit of advice? Don’t rule out attending a mass while traveling around new places. Even if you’re not really religious, you will see and hear some pretty cool things, plus it’s free!
After mass, we had some dinner at a restaurant that had successfully lured us in while we were on our way back to the hostel. I had the cheapest thing on the not-cheap menu, which happened to be a margarita pizza, and a glass of very expensive water. The food was good, but not great, which, for the most part, was all the food we experienced in Venice—expensive and ‘meh.’ After dinner, we headed back to the hostel, stopping on the way to pick out some candy at a very hip and yet very overpriced candy shop.
The next morning, the weather was not good. It was raining and cold and it didn’t help that our room’s heat had turned off throughout the night which meant getting out from under the covers took way more will power than it should have.
After grabbing breakfast, we took a quick peak at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and then headed to the Galleria della Academia. When we were buying the tickets, the nice man behind the counter gave us the E.U. student discount even though we told him we were from the U.S. which brought the tickets down from 12 euros to 7 (Gotta love nice people!). There was a lot of nice artwork and in each room there were little computer screens where you could read the history behind a certain painting.
After leaving the museum, we walked around looking for a place to eat lunch. It was raining and cold so when we finally found a place that wasn’t out of our budget, we grabbed the last table and sat down even though there weren’t enough chairs. The waitress brought us an extra chair and we had a decent lunch, although I will say I was getting rather sick of eating pizza (always the cheapest thing not the menu).
Our next stop was St. Mark’s Basilica. It was very beautiful but extremely crowded. Furthermore, because it was so grey and cloudy outside, there was hardly any light coming through the windows which made it very hard to see the beautiful ceiling of the basilica.
We spent a good couple of hours exploring the Basilica (I highly recommend going up to the upper balconies! The stairs are near the exit and it costs about 5 euros, but it is definitely worth it). As we were leaving, I noticed a flyer that said there was an organ concert later that evening, so we decided to see the Duke’s Palace and then head back for the concert. It’s actually quite remarkable that I noticed the flyer at all, because by this time, I had somehow managed to lose one of my contact lenses. Now I have absolutely horrible eyesight, like really bad (all my fellow near-sighted buddies know what I’m talking about). So I had to keep one of my contacts in so I could see where I was going. Unfortunately, this led to a very skewed depth perception that made my head hurt quite a bit. Moral of the story? Either keep an extra contact lens or glasses with you at all times or don’t rub your eye vigorously while wearing contacts.
Unfortunately, the Duke’s Palace closed earlier than Catey had originally thought, so we simply spent the time getting an espresso and, in my case, a gelato. At five o’clock we headed to the organ concert. It was a good thing that we went to the concert, because the lights in the basilica had been turned on and we could finally see its beautifully detailed ceiling. I was so tired that I fell asleep during the concert.
Since the weather was pretty bad, and I was falling asleep on my feet, we decided to grab a quick dinner at a self-serve deli that Catey had found which had pretty decent prices and then headed back to the hostel. I went to bed almost immediately, while Mary- bless her heart- talked to the hostel owner about our lack of heat and finally got it fixed.
The next morning we had a flight to Barcelona at 10:00, so we woke up pretty early (quick shoutout to the random guy we were sharing out hostel room with– he very kindly turned on the lights to make it easier for us to pack and didn’t complain that we had woken him up so early). We made our way to the Venice bus station, munching on croissants we had bought the night before. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare and said goodbye to Venice and hello to Barcelona.
Although we were by no means done traveling, this brought us to the end of our Great Italian Adventure and I am so grateful and happy that I got to be a part of it.
Happy New Years Everyone!