Monday, September 21, 2009

Welcome to Venice! Day 1

Apparently I'm on some sort of blogging rampage since this will be the 3rd blog post over the last 24 hours. The truth is, I really enjoy re-living our trip to Europe. It's really fun to look at my journal from the trip and remember so many great moments. Earlier I was looking over my photos from Venice and got so excited that I thought I would go ahead and share some of them tonight (this morning). 

Scott and I have a special attachment to Venice--it's where we got engaged. Besides that, Venice is as beautiful as any photo you've ever seen. There are many things in Europe that were different from my expectations, but Venice is every bit as beautiful as you think.

This day didn't actually begin in Venice. It started in a laundry mat in Florence. Scott and I packed for 14 days in one backpack each. Naturally, we needed to re-wear some things and that meant we had to do laundry. Rick Steves directed us to a local laundry mat and I must say that doing laundry in Europe is a unique experience. 

It was a perfectly quiet Sunday morning and our only company in the laundry mat was a lovely couple from New Zealand. They were biking through Italy. I though maybe they meant on motorcycles but they meant real bikes. How cool is that? I felt like such a weakling compared to them. We started talking and we learned that he was a doctor and they were in Italy for a month but their biking expedition had been sidetracked because she had fallen off her bike and had broken a rib. That's why, as her husband explained, she was "standing like Napolean," which I finally understood to mean that was why she had one arm tucked in her jacket. They were so nice and had the greatest accents. I was feeling pretty sophisticated , having a conversation with some New Zealanders about classical art, when Scott piped up with a question. He asked them, "Hey, do you guys watch that show "Flight of the Concords?" The husband laughed but the woman grimaced and said, "No, that's more.....Kiwi humor." I felt it was the equivalent of someone asking me, "Hey, you're an American. Do you watch that show "Jerry Springer"? and my response being, "No that's more...redneck humor." (and I have no idea what a Kiwi is...I'm still trying to figure that out.)

Despite the fact that we revealed that we had a Kiwi sense of humor, they were so nice and we had a great conversation with them while we were all doing laundry. I guess it's easy to bond with someone when you're folding your underwear in front of them the first time you meet them. Our laundry was done first and we said good-bye to our new friends. I wish I had taken a photo of them, but I didn't. I have no idea why; I have no excuse. I guess it's because I'm a Kiwi. 

After this we headed to the train station for the short train ride to Venice. It was another lovely ride through Tuscany as we headed to Venice. You know you're close to Venice when you run out land and the train tracks are over water. After we got off the train, we headed to find our hotel....which was easier said than done. Venice is a very,very old city with no logic in how they numbered their buildings. We found our hotel quite by accident and were so excited to find that it had...AIR CONDITIONING!! (not always a given in Europe) If you went out on our balcony and stood on your tiptoes, you could see that our room overlooked a little canal.

After settling in, we headed out to see Venice at the perfect time of day...twilight. We grabbed our iPods so we could listen to Rick Steves "Welcome to Venice Grand Canal Cruise" and headed to catch a boat. The Grand Canal may be the best part of Venice. It's "Main Street." It's over 2 miles long, 150 feet wide, and 15 feet deep and it's lined the palaces and expensive hotels. 

This is the Rialto Bridge, lined with shops and lots of tourists.  It's one of the most important(and crowded) landmarks in Venice. 
St. Marks Square is an important stop on the Grand Canal Cruise. It's the political and religious center of the city. It's home to Doge's Palace, St. Marks Bascilica, and millions of pigeons. 

After the Grand Canal Cruise we hopped off at San Marco's, found some dinner, and headed back to the hotel. Wandering through Venice is ideal and we caught these great views as it got dark. 

The Grand Canal as seen from Rialto Bridge

The Grand Canal 

We meandered back to our hotel for some much-needed rest. These two Kiwis were exhausted!

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