We arrived in Venice with hardly any idea of where we were supposed to go. We had messaged our AirBnb host asking for directions several times and she hadn't responded. We didn't even have the address to the house. All we had was the dot on the map on the AirBnb listing. We took a bus from the airport into Venice and started towards the dot on the map, in the pouring rain.
We made our way over to the area we thought we were supposed to be in and sat down to have some coffee and wait for a response. I texted and called our host and left her a voicemail, but still no response. We were started to get pretty frustrated with her. Finally she texted me and said she wasn't even in Italy and that her brother, Tobia, would text me and check us in to the house. I eventually got a text from Tobia who gave us the address. We made our way to the house and unpacked. We took a quick nap and afterward discovered all the dead bugs in our sheets. We were not excited to spend the next few nights there. The bathroom, which Tobia had supposedly been cleaning when we arrived, was pretty dirty and smelly too.
After our nap we went out to find dinner. Unlike some of the other cities we've been in, Venice didn't seem to have as many restaurants open quite as late. We found a restaurant with a patio on the water of the Grand Canal and got some good pasta. The patio was so close to the water that when a big boat came by, the water would sometimes come up onto the wood and even reach our feet.
We started our second day by heading to Rialto Bridge. Apparently every major attraction in Italy is currently under construction. The bridge is undergoing some maintenance so about half of it was covered in scaffolding.
We bought some post cards from a vendor on the bridge. It seemed like it was going to rain so all the vendors on the bridge started getting out their ponchos and umbrellas to sell.
Next we made our way over to St. Mark's Square and Basilica.
We walked around the square and the surrounding area for a few hours. The square is right by the water so we watched all the gondolas come and go, deciding whether or not we should do a gondola ride.
We went to a small restaurant for lunch and just got pizza and ice tea. I keep drinking iced tea because it's one of the only drinks you can get with ice here!
Across the street from the restaurant was a shop that sold items made from Murano glass. Murano is an island off Venice that is known for its glass making. I bought a small watch with a face made of Murano glass.
We wandered around the area a little longer and the weather seemed like it was going to stay good. We hopped in a gondola and wanted to do the shorter 30 minute trip.
On our gondola ride, we learned that Venice is actually made up of 118 islands connected by 420 bridges, and the foundation of the city was in 421 A.D.
It started to get really windy and sprinkle a bit. We were going down a smaller canal approaching the open water where we would go down a bit then turn around downs another small canal to make a big circle. A few gondolas in front of us had to work really hard to get underneath this bridge and out into the open water because it was so windy. The wind was pushing them backwards and slammed a few gondolas into the right side of the canal. It seemed like they were going to tip over.
Our gondola guy started to back up down the small canal and said we would go a different way. A bunch of other gondolas started coming down the canal and made a little traffic jam. After hanging out in the canal for about 15 minutes, our guy said the wind had cleared a little and he would try again. Since so many gondolas had accumulated while everyone was waiting, we had to wait for the ones in front of us to go first. In the meantime, a few gondolas behind us, an old man broke out a guitar and his buddy started singing. Everyone in the canal was clapping along and people even stopped on a small bridge above us to watch, listen, and take pictures.
Finally, we got to go through. We learned that the gondola has to be tilted to the right to be perfectly balanced. That was causing problems since the wind was blowing towards the heavier side of the gondolas and knocking them into the side of the bridge, almost toppling them. The gondolas had figured out a system where another guy would come get in the front of the boat to offset the weight and then they would paddle through under the bridge. The helper up front then got out on the other side of the bridge and walked back to get in another boat and help someone else cross.
Once we were out in big canal, the water was really rough. It seemed like to much for a small gondola to handle. But they were all out there! We got rocked and splashed a bit. A girl in the gondola next to us was freaking out and wanted to get out right away. We turned down a smaller canal, we passed the Bridge of Sighs, and made our way back to where we started. So basically we got an hour long gondola ride for the 30 minute price. And we got a good story and adventure out of it. We tipped our guy €5 since we got such a long ride and he had to work so hard in the wind. He was super happy and definitely wasn't expecting any sort of tip, especially since the city has an official price that all gondolas must follow.
We walked around near Rialto Bridge again, looking for some dinner. We ended up at a restaurant with cool seating in a window about a foot or two off the sidewalk so we could kind of see over everyone walking. We had some great and cheap wine with our meal. We even saw a kid with a CU backpack on walk past us! Which reminds me of a CU family we met in Lisbon that I forgot to add to that blog entry. We were in the airport in Lisbon and I saw a dad and little boy on Buffs shirts. I said go buffs and they stopped so we got to talking. Both parents went to CU and the husband was a professor there, I forgot to ask his name. And obviously the two little boys are future Buffs.
We got gelato on the walk home and headed back to our AirBnb. We found an extra comforter in the closet and decided to take off the fitted sheet with dead bugs, sleep on top of the covers that were on the bed, and use the spare comforter as a blanket.
We woke up with quite a few bug bites. I found a huge spider web right by my side of the bed too. So I think some of my bites on my arms are spider bites.
I got up and showered. The floor of the tub was covered in rust so I tried to avoid that. I came out of the shower and saw two little kitties eating breakfast in the kitchen and came back to the room and Luke had gone to get us coffee and muffins for breakfast. So cats, coffee, and muffins made my morning better.
We decided we wanted to go to Lido, a 7 mile log sandbar just off Venice this day. Tobia gave us some towels and we left to go catch the public transportation boat over to Lido.
We bought a bottle of Bellini and a few water bottles first. The cashier at the store thought I was Turkish and thought Luke could be from Finland or somewhere up there. He asked us to guess where he was from and I felt awkward because I could hardly understand him and didn't want to offend him. We guessed India and he was happy and kept laughing and said we were close, Bangladesh. After we made friends with this guy, we went to buy tickets for the boat.
We got on the boat and I was surprised how efficiently it ran. It stopped just like a bus just to load and unload and was quickly on its way after each stop.
A lot of the beaches in Lido are private beaches for all the resorts. We did some research before hand and found that the best free public beach was called Blue Moon Beach. We got to the beach and opened up our Bellini bottle. A bunch of vendors were selling big beach blankets to lay on the sand. We thought it would be nice to have one and that we could use it in other places the rest of our trip. We talked to a young couple sitting near us to see how much they paid just to get an idea of how much we could bargain down the price.
We got a big blanket and laid in the sun for a few hours, occasionally getting in the water. The water wasn't nearly as cold as it was in Barcelona!
It started to get pretty dark and we heard thunder so we packed up our stuff and decided to go get some food. About 10 minutes after we got up, the lifeguards started blowing their whistles and closed the beach because of lighting. We made it to a restaurant down the main street just before it got super busy. There was so much lighting and it even started hailing!
It finally let up and we took the boat back over to Venice. We walked around and found a "fish pedicure" place. One of those places where the fish basically eat the dead skin off your feet. It was funny to watch everyone's faces as the fish were all over their feet. We decided we wanted to do it. We went in and started talking to the cashier who told us we couldn't since we had bug bites on our legs. She said they might get infected. Disappointed but happy to not get any infections, we kept walking around to find a place for dinner.
We found a nice cheap place with a patio and sat down outside. We wanted to just get something small to eat and some wine. It started raining again so we got moved inside. No hail this time though. We each ordered a half liter of wine, red for Luke and a sparkling white like prosecco for me. We just got some bread and balsamic and oil olive at first. Then we decided to get some tiramisu. At this point, we had been at the restaurant at least an hour and a half if not more. I went to the bathroom and came back to find that Luke had ordered another half liter of wine for each of us, along with some French fries and ketchup.... After too much wine and FaceTiming both my mom and my grandma, we made our way back to our bug-filled room for the last night
We woke up 4am to catch the 5am airport shuttle for our 7am flight. It was pouring rain. It was a long and cold walk to the bus station. We made it and had time to spare to buy a couple bottles of water. We made it on our flight to Athens bright and early.