We arrived in Venice, Italy at our favourite time to arrive in new cities, dinner time. It is the perfect time because you can drop your bags, stroll leisurely around, take in the beauty without an agenda, eat, and get a good nights rest.
Airbnb – home
Jess had screen-shot the directions from the train station to our Airbnb home. We started off on the right foot, we think, but then could not find the streets for the life of us. Asking more than a few locals, who also didn’t seem to know where we were headed, we eventually found our way.
The lady was not home when we arrived so we sat on her doorstep for a little while. A guy our age walked up to us and started to chat. He was a nice guy named Glen and he kept us company while we waited.
About 20 minutes later the home-owners friend arrived to let us in. We exchanged facebook names with Glen and went inside.
There was a puppy inside!!! She was adorable. Her name was Havana and we spent a good chunk of time petting her. She was in the ladies room but there was a hole cut in the door just big enough for her head maybe? We were pleased.
We dropped our bags in our very large room, unpacked in the most modern bathroom we had seen thus far, and went out to explore Venice.
Venice by evening
I regret to inform you that the food in Venice is pretty terrible. I mean. I am sure there are some good spots if you know them, or at the expensive hotels, but the patios and restaurants along the canal by the Rialto bridge are some to be avoided. Soggy pizza, bland pasta, and fishy salmon are why we would not be going back there the rest of the stay.
We climbed the steps of the Rialto and I snapped a few photos of what I thought was probably the third most beautiful city of the entire trip (only falling behind Cinque Terre and Positano) – but in a completely different way!
The gondolas may be touristy and overpriced (80 euros to be exact. Which is why we just admired from afar) but they sure brought something wonderful to the scenery,
All of the shops were now closing and it was getting dark. We headed back to our hostel to rest and chat with our loved ones.
Our host had just come home and introduced herself. She was a very nice lady. She had moved to Venice to be with her girlfriend and had decided to stay when they broke up. She had 2 cats and a dog (Havana, who we had met earlier). She invited us to go for a walk her her and Havana for a little introduction tour.
Although we were already in our pajamas we changed again and went with her. We walked over to the Rialto Bridge where she insisted we go up to the top (even though we told her we already had). When we came back down she insisted we go to the other side as well (even though we told her we already had). We then walked around to the other side of the bridge where she took our picture and told us a little bit about its history.
We followed her down a few more streets and she pointed out some memorable pieces and buildings and gave us a run down of the town. She then went into a local and busy (for Venice) bar where she offered to buy us a drink. I opted for water and her and Jess had pursuco. Italians love pursuco. To be honest, she was very difficult to understand and I couldn’t tell if she was already drunk, but the tour had been nice.
She took us down some more passageways after they finished their wine and she told us we need to get lost in Venice. We said that was the plan for tomorrow. Apparently she wanted it to be the plan for tonight. She wouldn’t tell us how to get back! She said for us to go whichever way feels best and not care about the destination. It may have been a fun game if it were not midnight on our travel day. We wandered back and forth for a while before getting close enough for her to guide us, Havana still in tow.
We made it back to the home and THEN got to go to sleep for the night.
Venice Itinerary – Day 1: Get lost in Venice
We slept in until about 10am. (well… I did. Jess was up but we had shut the blinds so I was out cold). We didn’t have a plan for the day except to ‘get lost’.
We left our hostel and turned right, and left, and right and straight, and right, and did a spin, and right again and… ended up back at our place! Apparently it is hard to get lost here. We tried again, this time starting on the other side of the Rialto. Success!
We wandered around Venice for a good long while, grabbing a fruit cup for ‘breakfast’. In and out of mask stores and looking at every pretty glass bowl we saw. Luckily I had asked about 1 mask in particular that interested me. Unfortunately it cost 700 euros… but it did spark the sales lady’s interest enough to bring us up to where the authentic masks were kept. They were beautiful! We looked around and learned about the history and process of each mask. Jess decided to buy a beautiful modern black one with fans. I still did not see anything that urged me to buy.
We wandered a little bit more and found another mask store. We gave it another shot, this time ASKING to go upstairs. There were mostly the same masks but a few new ones. I was torn between 2. An emerald jester and a classic one with a long nose (the name escapes me). In the end… we bartered her down and I got both :s. Nobody should let me go shopping. But, I walked out happy.
We wandered around a little bit more before returning to our room to cool off and relax (hours had passed by the way. It was a long shopping day). We decided to look up a store we knew originated in Italy and had recently popped up back at home, Freddy’s. According to their website there was a store that carried them over by the train. It was a bit of a walk but we had nothing better to do.
We began our search for these bum-shaping pants (something we may not even need after all the stairs and walking we have done) and found a store with the same name even closer to our place. We went in and they had a small selection. We tried them on, both of our first times with the brand, and were not wowed by what they had. We hoped that the location by the train had a better selection.
We walked and walked and walked looking for this store. When we had put the address into google maps and screen shot it we did not notice that it corrected to the general area. Not very helpful on a street with a million stores. We soon gave up hope and sat down for dinner.
Venice Itinerary – Night 1: Get lost in Venice
Dinner – Bistro La Lista
We found a place where we were able to look at the menu without being pestered (a criteria we had set in place) and with good prices. We took a seat. The server was very polite – not like most Italian servers – and more like a Canadian. He was not mad when we declined a drink and did not roll his eyes when we asked for wifi and bread. It was pleasant. We got a pizza and salad to share and noticed that one of the other servers was
taking a liking to Jess. He would come over to talk frequently and wanted us to hang out with him after his shift. We ordered and finished a tea and when we were getting ready to leave he came to our table and began to draw. What did he draw? Well, a portrait of Jess of course, along with his phone number and name. Haha. Italians… So passionate.
We left, with no intention to return after his shift, and headed back to the room.
Time to Get Your Party On
We had decided earlier that day that tonight would be the night that we go out. We were going to be social and try to meet new people. We certainly didn’t feel like doing anything but sleeping now, but we had made a promise to ourselves.
We hauled ourselves out of bed, changed (without too much effort), and set out to ‘party’. We walked passed a few bars and scoped them out. Nothing seemed fun and none had people we were interested in. We got a few looks as we passed by and a few italian men tried to wave us in, but we wanted tourists.
We wandered back to the bar by our room and sat down. We gave it an effort but maybe just sitting on a ledge here for a few minutes would count as our night out. Then, two men walked up to us. They were men we had seen at one of the other bars. Had they followed us here? Pretty creepy. But they seemed nice enough and we wouldn’t be staying long anyway.
They bought us a drink (Jess a wine and me a delicious fruity non-alcoholic drink) and we chatted for a little while. One was a server who had been to Canada to visit his (now ex) Canadian girlfriend. The other was a chef at the same restaurant.
We chatted for a little while before adding our new friends on Facebook and calling it a night.
Venice Itinerary – Day 2: Lido Beach Day
Today was a beach day. We caught the number 2 water ‘bus’ to Lido (not a long journey) and found our way to the beach.
There isn’t much to say about a beach day. We people watched, read, flipped on our stomachs and back to our backs to get even tans, and ate a very expensive (7 euro) fruit cup.
Eventually we were bored out of our minds and wandered back to catch the sea-bus. It was a bit of a wait so we got Gelato. We soon realized that we didn’t want gelato at all but that we were just thirsty. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a free glass of water here – It’s a 3 euro bottle of water or nothing. So… we waited until we got home. Which we eventually did.
Venice Itinerary – Day 2: Try Try Again
When we got back Jess was starving. I had gotten a crappy pizza slice in Lido on the way to the sea-bus but she had held off. We headed towards San Marco in search of food.
Dinner – Rossopomodoro
We found a great place called “rossopomodoro”. I was not really hungry so I ordered an altered ‘Rossopomodoro salad’ (no rocket). Jess got a pizza after much deliberation. She said the pizza was the best she had had yet (I tried it… it was pretty darn good). My salad was… well… a salad.
Give Friends a Try
After dinner we wandered in search of something fun to do. While walking through San Marco we saw a newly wed (still in the dress) couple taking pictures. As we watched, 3 men came up to us to chat. They were pretty nice. We were not really in the mood for an adventure but they insisted they show us to the good night spots. One of the men left with another friend, leaving just the 4 of us. They showed us to the bar near our place that we had been to already. They bought me a water and Jess a wine and we sat on the dock and chatted. They then wanted to show us to “margarita-ville”. That is not what it was actually called but it had the word “margarita” in it so thats what I remember it as.
We wandered for quite a while, truly lost this time, until we turned a corner into a very busy square with lots of people our age. Well… they were a bit younger and a little more apt to party… but a nice atmosphere. We wandered around and decided that it was a little too intense for what we were feeling so the guys took us elsewhere. We walked around a bit more and came upon a board-walk with fancy yaughts and overlooking the Hilton across the water. Here we sat for a while and took a few pictures before returning home.
The guys walked us back to our place and we gave them a quick hug goodnight (before they could think they would get more). Thanks boys for the tour!
Venice Itinerary – Day 3: Burano Lace and Murano Glass
Our last day was reserved for culture. We hopped a boat to Burano, known for its vibrant houses and lace. It was… BEAUTIFUL.
It was a bit of a long ferry ride over (maybe an hour and a bit) but worth every minute. Unfortunately it was, again, cloudy out (I clearly have bad luck with colourful houses and weather) so the photos don’t give it justice. We walked up and down the tiny streets and along the canals looking into all of the lace stores and taking pictures of every different colour house there was. We bought some lace each (not the typical Burano lace which is very very very expensive (like… $1000 for a doily, one lady told us) which was sewn in Italy.
It then started to get very windy and rainy and we had another island to hit so we headed for the ferry.
When we landed in Murano there was a man saying the last glass blowing demonstration of the day was happening just around the corner. Murano is known for its glass blowing and, in olden times, the workers were not allowed to leave the island in fear of letting the glass blowing secrets out.
We decided we would check it out and headed that way. We found ourselves at a little factory and for only 2 euros we could watch the demo. That was the best price we had seen this trip!
We took our seat on some bleachers and an older gentleman came into the working area. He put a long pole into a furnace and pulled it out with a burning red sphere on the end. He then started to spin it and blow in the end of the tube. Eventually the sphere stretched out and, with a few manipulations, he pulled off a vase. One more time he stuck the pole into the fire and pulled out a red-hot sphere. This time he took a seat and began to spin it and alter it as he did the vase. Eventually we started to see a shape. Within minutes there was a magnificent glass horse statue sitting on the table in front of him! Actually in minutes. It was remarkable!
I gave the man a tip and we looked around the showroom. Jess talked me out of a 300 euro elephant and I talked her out of a 500 euro leaf bowl. Teamwork.
We wandered around the town a bit and I picked up a few souvenirs (which seemed so much cooler after watching how they are made). We then sat down for lunch.
Where you from, eh?
We got a pretty decent pizza to share, since the place didn’t look the best, and then ordered a desert (they didn’t have the one we wanted so we settled on a piece of cake… bad choice. If they don’t have what you want… skip it!).
I’m not sure how we got to talking but the table next to us ended up being from Canada. Where in Canada? CALGARY. Wow. What are the odds. Fellow Calgarians in this little dump restaurant in Murano. They were a very nice gay couple who had been traveling around Europe and had just gotten here from France. One was a prosecutor and I believe the other was a cop. They were lovely.
They told me all about what to do in France and recommended the museum pass. They also told me to absolutely not try to walk to Marie Antoinette’s home from Versailles. They say that “just across the garden” actually means the longest hike of your life. Because the golf carts are about 35 euros I think I will test my legs.
We thanked them for the chat and advice and set off to catch our bus back.
We are still really disappointed we did not get their names or contact info.
(Gentleman, if you find this blog somehow… we would love to grab coffee in Calgary!)
We returned home, Jess packed, we chatted until we decided that 4 hours was the least amount of sleep we wanted, and closed our eyes.
See you later dear dear friend. I missed you the moment you left.
The next morning, Jess left to catch her ferry to the airport and I headed off in the opposite direction for the train to Milan. A few tears were shed… not going to lie.
- Grand Canal
- Rialto Bridge
- Ride a gondola – too expensive
- Piazza San Marco (St.Mark’s Square)
- Basilica San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica)
- Doge’s palace
- GET LOST!