Thursday 21 August 2014

European Adventure: Day Twenty-Four - Venice, Italy

Our last day of our European Adventure ended up being wonderful and relaxing. I opted to sleep in until 11:00am whereas Dad and Brian spent the morning off on their own. Brian stuck close to the hotel but Dad went back to the other side of the city and got lost coming back from San Marco Square. The streets get confusing and it took him over 10,000 steps to get back. By the time I was ready and Brian and I were heading out to explore the city, Dad had just gotten back and decided to stay at the hotel for the afternoon. Brian and I started off by walking over to the water taxi stand and buying tickets for the next one leaving. We only had about 2 minutes to decide so we took a chance that it was going where we wanted to go, and thankfully it was. The water taxi was much busier then I initially expected, until I realized it is pretty much the only local transportation in the main Venice area. With all the waterways and canals it’s the cheapest way to travel – so you had a few locals and tons of tourists hopping on and off it. I had wanted to do the touristy gondola ride but the cost was insane – to go just a few blocks from the hotel it would have been like $80.00! I am sure it would have been fun, but not likely worth it.

The hotel lobby 

We rode the water taxi for about 30 minutes or so and got off at the first San Marco Square stop. We walked along the waterway where there were a bunch of artist booths and market stands. We passed by Harry’s Bar which is where the Bellini was invented. I thought about going inside and ordering one but all the reviews and research said it was overpriced and not worth a stop especially with its key location right along the water.  We walked through the square stopping to take photos of the tower, cathedral and various sights. In the daytime it was much busier then the previous night and easy to be wowed by the amazing sights and sounds of the area.

Brian wasn't actually that red - it was a camera mode!

Since we had no place to be, Brian and I decided to just wander aimlessly around the streets. We ducked into a small restaurant off one of the main areas once we had checked to make sure there wasn’t any service charge – after the previous night we weren’t paying to be treated horribly! The restaurant was great. A little bit slow (likely due to it being packed) but the service was good and the food was delicious. I had one of the best seafood pastas I’ve ever tasted – especially considering that in Venice most seafood comes into the city frozen.

We took a longer route back to the hotel stopping to look in small shops and stores. I found some jewelry made from Murano glass that I bought for Mom, Nanny and Amanda in this great store where the owner handmade a few pieces while I waited. I also bought a bunch of Venetian masks from multiple stores. I had wanted to get myself one along with some for family members, but they were all so pretty and I couldn’t decide! I must have tried on dozens of them before I finally made a decision. Actually I first found one I loved a lot but I got indecisive and walked away from it and when I walked back to buy it, it was gone. The one I did end up buying I loved too but it still doesn’t compare to the first one. A lesson learned to buy something when you see it rather then taking a chance and waiting.

One of the many masks I tried on

There was a small both selling fresh fruits along with pieces of coconut. I love coconut but had never tried it fresh – I learned I wasn’t missing anything. It was hard to eat and actually pretty tasteless so I ended up throwing it away. Still I am glad that I got to try it!  Brian and I also stopped for gelato along the way and we found this cute little area to sit and watch the people walk along the street which was fun.  

We made it back to the hotel in the late afternoon and took some time to pack up our suitcases. Packing was made a little less simple due to all the breakables we had collected over the previous three weeks. There was a lot of wrapping and carefully placing everything along with hoping for the best! We met dad down in the lobby and walked a few minutes to a restaurant close to the hotel. We wanted something cheap and easy and this place had decent reviews. Initially service seemed a bit slow but it was still early and the place was really busy. We shared a bunch of dishes – some pizza, pastas, and antipasti. We also tried three of their deserts and everything was excellent. The place was called Al Bacco Felice and it was one of the nicest meals we had in Italy.

While it wasn’t a busy or largely eventful day in Venice, it was a wonderful way to spent our last night and celebrate the end of our Adventure!

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