Finally we were able to get into the heart of Venice! The day started off with an early 8:30 wake up call, followed by a quick shower and a bolt to the shuttle bus. The bus (which is really just and 8 seater volkswagon mini-van) took us 15 minutes to the Piazzale de Roma, the car parking area...because obviously there is not any room to drive cars in the actual city of Venice - only boats. Once we got there we decided to go find the train station that we would be leaving from on Thursday...it's only a 5-10 minute walk from the drop off point which wasn't bad at all. Once we got there we went to the tourist information center to find out if there were any tours we could take. Luckily there were seven possibilities. Unfortunately, 3 of them started at 10:00 am, 1 started at 8:15am, 1 costs 40 euros per person so that one was out, then the other two started at 8pm, which would have finished after 10pm(our pick up time to come back to the hotel). Maybe tomorrow we'll have better luck!! Also there was a tour I read about online that started at 11:15am...this was a good chance. Then we asked the tourist information guy how long it took to get to Saint Mark's Plaza...45-55 minutes walking!! It would have been okay if it wasn't already 10:45. Oh well.
We started our walk to Saint Mark's Plaza, following the sings they have on the walls and working our way through what seemed like the minotaur's labrynth. This place is a darn Maze!!! It's funny because everyone is carrying around a map. We finally made it to Saint Mark's after passing a ton of gelato shops (fabulous ice cream!) all sorts of narrow corridors, and small shops, and the Rialto (the big bridge over the Grand Canal). We took a lot of cool pictures on the way. Once we walked into the open of St. Mark's we were awe struck with the amount of people in the square! It was nuts...there were pictures being taken, people from all over(even some from Tampa Bay...they said something to us because Leigh was wearing a Tampa Bay Rays shirt), and there were pigeons!! Tons and Tons of Pigeons!! And they were eating out of people's hands!! We walked into the middle of the square and looked up into St. Mark's Basillica...it was amazing! We had to get in line to go inside, luckily it's free to just walk around the bottom floor. (Something we noticed was to go into any church it costs a minimum of 3 euros...so we didn't go in too many!! There are 50+ churches in Venice, so that could get a bit pricey! So any way we went into the Basilica and hip-fired a few pictures because I don't think you're allowed to take pictures inside...oops! or at least with a flash...I can't read Italian so I have an excuse; they seemed to come out pretty good though.
After St. Mark's we decided to go grab something to eat. We walked around for a bit trying to find a small place to eat that wasn't too expensive. It took us about 45 minutes to find a small cafe in a little square out of the way. It turned out to be more expensive that we had wanted but who cares, we're in Venice. Danny had a pizza with prosciutto, and Leigh had spaghetti and meat balls. Also we each had a glass of the house red wine. It was very dry and burned as it went down. Not so good. It ended up costing close to 35 euros. whatever! Now it was time for dessert! Gelato! We walked around looking for the cheapest gelato stand. The closer we got the grand canal the more expensive things got. So we walked down a side street and found a stand that was the cheapest out of any we saw for 2 scoops! It was soooo good! Some of the best ice cream we've ever had!!
Now we decided to go see some museums! We got lost, again, trying to find these places because the streets are poorly labeled and signs have arrows pointing in the opposite directions for the same place. Finally after about an hour or so of looking, we found the museum of natural history. It was closed! Apparently Museums in Venice close at 1pm, and only open at 9am. Those are some pretty bad hours. But we did find two of the restaurants that Jaime and Melody suggested. They were closed as well, but re-opened at seven for dinner. In the meantime we went back to the Grand Canal and all the shops and checked out the prices, just in case we may want to buy a few things. By the time we got done doing that it started to rain. Luckily we brought our umbrellas! It was about time to head over to NoNo Ristorante!! A pizzaria that was suggested to us! We were the first ones there since we got there just as they were opening the door. And we were seated and served within 20 minutes!! We both had a pizza and split a bottle of the house red wine!! This wine was very good...much better than the first place we went to. (Danny actually liked it!) We sat here at the restaurant for about an hour and a half until we had to find our way out of the maze and back to the pick up point.
We may or may not take a gondola ride...it costs 80 euros to rent one for 40 minutes, but who knows. Also we are planning on seeing a play at the theater of Venice. It should be interesting and it's not too terribly expensive! Venice is definitely the most pricey place we've been so far. Also tomorrow, we plan to find the wine store that Jaime and Melody were telling us about where we can bring water bottles and fill them up with wine for very cheap!! Hopefully, we'll be able to catch a tour or two tomorrow as well!! Venice is such a fun city, it would be nice if we knew a little Italian though!!! Oh well. We'll keep you guys updated tomorrow. Buona Notte!!