July 28, 2008
We arrived in Venice around 7:30 am from our overnight train and checked our baggage in the luggage room.We headed out walking towards San Marco Square.The whole time Danny kept saying he knew where he was going…just following the signs and "keeping the canal to my right," but Laura doubted the whole time until we finally got there.We detoured a little (intentionally???) to see the Rialto Bridge and check on gondola ride prices.Sure enough what we read was correct and they were asking for 80 euros for a ½ hour ride…so we decided to pass for the time being.We came across 3 gondoliers on a small canal asking for 50 euros…but we passed again hoping to find a better deal.We walked around the square and Laura did one of the pigeon poses.We had some crackers so she crumbled it up and sprinkled it around and held some in her hands.She was NOT expecting it when the pigeons start flying all around her and LANDING on her…got some pretty classic photos from that one!After that, we did a lot of souvenir shopping, checked on more gondola prices, pulled out some more money, then headed towards Friari Church across the canal to find some cheaper food.
We were heading to a wine shop that Laura read about, which supposedly would fill up a liter bottle of wine for only a few euros.Once we came to the square where we thought the shop was we prematurely stopped at a restaurant and ended up getting served some microwaved pasta.O well…we then found the wine shop and sure enough for less than 3 euros we got our 1.5 liter bottle full of Chardonnay.The only problem was that it was blazing hot outside so the wine got warm quickly despite our first efforts to put it down our throats.We then went inside the Friari church (a huge brick church, known for it's interior paintings by Titian…Danny visited there w/ his Oxford group 2 years ago, making him an art expert.
After the church, we went back to the place we had found the cheap gondola offer since we had not been able to find anything better.This time, they tried asking us 80 euros too, but we said no, so they quickly lowered it to 70 and when we told them they had told us 50 earlier, they said 60 and ushered us to the boat.It wasn't something you could do everyday and Laura had never been to Italy before, so we went ahead a splurged.Itreally is amazing how those gondoliers navigate those long boats through such narrow spaces all with one oar on one side of the boat!After our short ride, we pulled out MORE money and headed back to San Marco Square to go inside the Basilica.All of the golden mosaics inside were very impressive.Afterwards we went up the Tower that overlooked the square and got a great panoramic of the city.
Next we went on a vapparetto boat ride to Lido, but it didn't look like much was there to see so we stayed on and took the boat through the Grand Canal to the Academia Bridge to go back to the wine shop and get some fresh wine and dinner.Danny was hell-bent on getting some of the black sauce pasta, so we went back to a place that we scoped out earlier.The cuttlefish black sauce didn't look very appetizing, but Danny enjoyed it while Laura had some type of pasta with scampi…very good.
To end our day in Venice, we headed to the Rialto Bridge to hopefully see the sunset, but the canal did not open up to the west, so the building hid the sunset.While Laura went looking for a bathroom Danny decided to pull the romantic card and bought her a beautiful rose from a street vender as a surprise, expect the bathroom was closed so Laura walked up while he was still haggling with the vendor, but the effect still worked!As it was getting dark we remembered that we wanted to see San Marco Square lit up at night and all the small orchestras playing at the cafes.We briskly walked there and took some night pictures (our tango picture - with Laura's rose - is a good one) before heading to the train station.Once again Laura doubted Danny's navigation to the train station, but we made it there drenched in sweat from walking all the way in the heat.We had about an hour at the station, and we were lucky to find water fountains at the station to cool off with.Back to Metz to pack up clean our rooms and head out to Lisbon.
That night on the train we had a little scare.On one of our trains, we were sharing a sleeping area with another person and Laura was sleeping closest to the door/window with her purse next to her.Luckily she was having trouble falling asleep (which NEVER happens, usually she's out like a light as soon as the train starts), because someone opened the door and started to grab Laura's purse.She felt a tug and turned over and saw the man with his arm in our room…he saw she was awake, said "Excuse me" in Italian and left. We would have been in HUGE trouble had he stolen her purse because both of our passports, our rail tickets, Laura's camera and her wallet were all in there.After Danny got up and beat the guy up, we were back to sleep w/o any worries…ok that didn't actually happen, but we did go back to sleep with Laura's purse wedged in between us and the strap wrapped around her arm.Laura tried to find the guy a little bit later so she could report him to the conductor but couldn't…hopefully he didn't get anyone else.