M- saturday morning (the 7th) we left (somewhat sadly because the b&b was so great) ravenna. we had a mellow and quick morning of travel on 2 different fast trains (no busses!) planned with an entire afternoon and night in venice to follow.
however, when we arrived at the train station we saw “S.O.P.P.” next to our train on the schedule. we found out that it meant that our train was cancelled. how does that happen? we had a connecting train in ferrara that was supposed to get us into venice at 11:30.
the tellers at the station said we could take a bus which sounded like a horrible idea. so we decided to completely reschedule our morning. the bummer is that we already purchased our tickets and had to get new ones and i think we will have to call to get a refund. the tellers weren’t much help on that front.
we ended up on equally fast trains which got us into venice just an hour after we were originally scheduled to arrive.
(have i mentioned how much i love dining cars on trains?! well i do. here i am snacking on a cornetto and a macchiato.)
vencie is surreal. as soon as we exited the train station we saw water right in front of our feet. we bought our tickets for the water taxi. they are rather pricey, slow, and very very un-fancy but you can ride them as much as you want which is excellent.
A- you purchase tickets by the hour instead of by the ride. so, we each bought a 24 hour ticket that allowed us unlimited rides for that time. it turned out to be a good way to sell the tickets. it made it easier to accommodate the spontaneity of our day in venice.
(on the taxi!)
M- we decided to take advantage of that option and used the water taxi as a way to ride through the entire city since we had a limited amount of time to see a lot of pretty.
we came to venice just to see venice. because of our very short stay (it’s an expensive place to hang out!) we decided early on to plan on walking and boating around the city just to sort of take it in. the second plan was to put good seafood in our bellies.
we were very successful at achieving both of these goals!
first we checked into our 900ish year old hotel/b&b and got directions to a place for lunch.
A- this is the type of hotel that requires you to leave your room key at the front desk. I liked it - kinda james bond feeling.
M- i like not carrying around a 10 pound tassel with a tiny key attached to it. we made our way down the narrow streets (no more than 2 people wide at several points) and found our recommend restaurant and immediately left. using what we had gradually learned over the past several weeks (expensive = not as good as cheap) we went on a menu hunt and settled on a place that offered a menu in less than 3 languages (multiple language menus are another red flag it seems).
i went straight for one of the daily specials, sardines (fresh with bones but without faces-not canned) marinated in onions and raisins with polenta. apparently it’s a local sort of dish because i saw it on menus just about everywhere.
aaron got pizza.
my lunch won. venice pizza < florence pizza.
A- venice pizza was still very tasty.
M- not one bit tasty.
A- and was only 5eu for a very generous serving. not that I’m judging my pizza by the “value.” it’s just a shame when you overpay for a lesser pie.
M- our waiter thought it was funny that i was the only one ordering and sort of gave aaron a hard time (not mean just funny) for not speaking italian.
A- i liked being in a rather “macho” culture and sitting there while my wife took charge. we’re multicultural stereotype shatterers.
M- take that italy! on the way back we got one of these.
i hadn’t seen them anywhere else in italy so i figure it’s some regional thing but i am mostly sure that i am wrong. it’s like a fancy version of a cows tail. ours was watermelon flavored. i just got it because it was a cool color really.
A- kinda tasted like bubble-yum, except more plastic-ey.
M- after a brief nap and shower we headed back out into the heat for a long boat ride. to get from one end of the grand canal to the other is a 45 minute ride by taxi. so we sun-screened up and went out.
but first we got sidetracked and bought some cool local art (more etchings!), checked out another recommend restaurant for our dinner later, promptly decided not to go there
M- and decided to find another place, and found our way back to the taxi.
the taxi itself is somewhat entertaining. you have people going about their daily business, hauling luggage, and using it as a way to see the city.
A- ooo! remember the venetian “u-haul?” it was a small boat with a bunch of furniture and a mattress on top going down the river. that did NOT look like fun. however, the trash boats were very cool. they had mini-cranes on them to pick up the mini-dumpsters.
M- i completely forgot about all of that. i was not at all jealous of the movers. can you imagine packing a little boat full of furniture?! the taxi is a very active boat. on the canal we passed gondolas, water limos (nope not stretch limos… just ultra pretty smaller boats), cruise ships, tug boats, you name it and it was out there… actually i would describe what we were on more as a water bus.
here are some of the hundreds of photos from our ride.
venice is exactly what you expect/want it to look like. at some point i want to go back and explore more of the architecture.
after our long ride we hopped off at one of the ends and walked back to the hotel. there isn’t exactly any sort of reason to the streets… or consistent marking of the streets for that matter.
you sort of walk towards an area (like the rialto bridge) and just get there eventually. we enjoyed getting to wander around the tight streets and got plenty of surprise views.
some were dead ends that brought us to a courtyard and some opened up to the water while others came out in another maze that we didn’t expect to find.
when we got back to pensione guerrato we studied our travel guide in hopes of finding a good non-touristy restaurant (reasonably priced!) for dinner.
we totally nailed it. after a walk over the rialto bridge, through several different squares, and under a tunnel we found our place, osteria al mascaron.
A- i’m proud to say that i navigated that entire walk. not a feat i usually take upon myself when i have mary and her crazy brain that is genetically engineered to remember the layout of towns and the routes to get from “A” to “B.”
M- you did a great job! our restaurant had a good hand written italian menu with lots of seafood!
A- it was so nice to be able to go to a restaurant with a menu that changes so often, because of available ingredients, that it’s hand written. totally cool!
M- i don’t know how people find this restaurant if they aren’t specifically looking for it. it’s located off the beaten path for sure.
A- and tiny, tiny, tiny. they probably fit in 30-40 people in the space, but it was a cozy fit. perfectly comfortable though.
M- my goal for venice was to get squid ink risotto. but no one seemed to have it. there was plenty of squid ink pasta but i think it was dried and i wanted the fresh stuff. so we got the scoglio and a mezzo litro of house red wine.
aaron and i were giddy when it came out. it was served family style which i love and you could smell it as they carried it out from the kitchen. this was an excellent meal. it ranks right up there with the meal i had in rome. i don’t think we stopped smiling all night because it was just perfect.
A- this was a very simple dish, but was super fresh and cooked very well. spaghetti, clams, mussels, shrimps, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. i’ve had mussels a few times, and have enjoyed them, but this was a totally different type of experience. this was, like, crazy good! nice textures, aroma, and flavors. :)
M- i think i want to go back and hug that plate of food. for dessert we had one of my favorite new things. biscotti with some “sweet” wine. in florence it’s called cantucci e vin santo. here its biscotti di burano con vino passito dolce. this one was an assortment of dryish cookie like things with a less whiskey like liquid than what i had in florence… it was a little more sweet but still very strong.
i think we were 1 of 2 tables in the restaurant that spoke english. it was fun listening in on all the other tables. the whole place was packed full by the time we left and the staff were very calm and mellow.
A- super mellow. this was very impressive. the food was top, top notch, the service was quick, but the staff was walking at a leisurely pace and took time to talk to the customers. these guys really had their act together. also, there’s no rush for turning tables. we could’ve stayed there for another hour after we were done and wouldn’t even have been given the check unless we specifically asked for it. that’s an aspect of Italian culture that I really like. take your time with your meals.
M- it was a festive place. if (nope when!) i go back to venice, i am going back here for a meal.
on our walk home we came across possibly the best street musicians we have ever heard. very folksy and energetic. it was like a concert!
A- 4 dudes in their mid 20’s. 2 of them played the violin and 2 played the accordion. they were playing really upbeat stuff and had gathered a big semi-circle of people.
M- we hung out on the rialto bridge…
(view from the bridge)
and had some of the worst photos taken of us out of all of the photos from the entire trip. multiple times. it was hilarious!
A- there were so many tourists that as soon as we got out our camera, people would offer to take our picture (and then we would take theirs in return).
then we got on the taxi to go to st. marks square. this was a HUGE open space surrounded by super decorated churches and buildings. like, the entire fronts of churches were plastered with sculptures. very cool. we got our picture taken again,
attempted to dance to 1 of the 4 bands, and wandered around a bit. mary, make this sound fancier… what did we look at?
M- ultra venetian decorated churches and buildings. with lots of sculptures. oh it was at night time. :)
here! have a photo!
then we walked over to ponte dell’accademia because it was mentioned in a book that we are reading and we thought it would be fun to see it.
(view from the accademia bridge)
A- 20 points to anyone who can guess the book.
M- afterwards we waited for a good while for the night vaporetto. it was packed full of people trying to catch a ride home (walking takes a really very long time here!… ahem crazy streets!). it was a fun ride at midnight 30. everyone was awake and festive, some people were all prettied up too.
(ok these people aren’t smiling…but they just were!)
i forgot to mention! lots of tiny dogs in venice. and they ride the taxi!
after our day of walking and riding around in the venetian sun we were wiped out. we packed our bags to prepare for our day of travel to switzerland and passed out.
that was a cool day.