When the wheels touch the runway ...
C'mon .... you know it's true. No matter how much you love to fly and no matter how much you trust your flight crew .... after a 8+ hour flight ..... when the wheels touch the runway ......
After what seemed like an eternity at 37,000 ft, we had finally arrive to destination numero uno. Venice. Small talk and anticipation always fills the time between the wheels touching the runway and when ones true vacation actually begins. Customs here was an insane move stop move stop serpentine of boredom and impatience. Taking lessons from our Germany trip where they wanted to know exactly where you were going and where you were staying ... we had everything ready and in hand. But, as almost always happens in life, the passport control lady had exactly zero f***s to give ... stamped our passports and sent us on our way without even a glance up. I could have been wearing a Pennywise mask and she wouldn't have know ..... I'm not complaining but ..... security first?
Bags. Checked luggage. The big "what if." On this trip .... no what if .... as a matter of fact, when we walked up to the carousel .... our bags were headed right for us .... check and check ..... after securing our gear, it was time to actually get to Venice. As you probably know .... Venice is an island. Actually ... what you probably don't know (we didn't either) is that Venice is actually 128 islands .... all joined together by concrete, wood, metal, and mortar. None the less ... it's an island so we needed to figure out water transport quickly. As much as I had pre guessed how horrible this part would be it was actually quite simple. Buy a ticket. Stand in line ..... get on the boat. Go to Venice. Get off boat. Walk to hotel.
If you're anything like me .... when you travel you second guess. I second guessed the decision to use backpacks and not luggage, since the time I decided to use backpacks and not luggage. The walk from the water bus affirmed my decision as sound and valid. I cannot imagine walking through Venice with a big ass pull behind suitcase. Well .... I can because I saw others .... many .... others ..... doing just that. Heather and I just blazed past them with our packs secured to our backs, and made it to the hotel in short order ......
Our hotel .... the Universato E Nord. 3 stars on Trip Advisor and a lot of bad reviews. We booked for proximity to the train station and not luxurious amenities. Not to mention if I'm gonna drop a lot of bills in Venice .... it's going to be for wine and not 4 walls I'm literally spending less than 10 hours in. Well wouldn't you know that the 3 star marginally ok hotel is so much better than has been given credit ..... Score!!! We checked into our room and stole the next 90 minutes for ourselves. I used the time to catch up on some much needed sleep. Once refreshed .... we headed out. Venice was waiting, and we were both eager to see what she had to offer.
The weather app kept telling us we only had a few hours before 90% of the forecast area was to get thunderstorms. So, prepped with umbrella in hand we headed toward the area we were to meet for our 3:00 walking tour and gondola ride. As the Universato E Nord is located on the Grand Canal right next to the main train station, we immediately walked up and over one of the famous Venice bridges. What a sight, what a view .... WTF?? We're in Venice baby and this place is nearly indescribable. With phone in hand and Google maps up guiding us to our destination 1.2 miles away, we wandered through the narrow streets and even narrower alleys of a city that has been there for .... well, just a little shy of around 3,000 years. At first it was just inhabited. The Roman times was when it was truly born to become the modern city we see today. Patience is a think you need to possess when visiting Venice. The streets and alleys are so narrow, and so crowded, you are at the mercy of thousands of people just in awe as you are ... and just as sensory overloaded for that matter. Shops, canals, bridges. More shops, more canals, and more bridges.
Around 1:00 we nestled into a small cafe, Birraria la Corte in Campo San Polo. As this was our very first dining experience in Italy, we eased our way into the flow. Our travels this far have taught us this is prudent. After a nice break from walking, a really good beer and an amazing Pizza Diavolo, we continued to the place we were to meet our tour. It became apparent to us, this time in our favor, that weather forecasting seems to be globally inconsistent. No rain. No storms. You could hear them and feel them all around us .... but we were spared.
The walking tour and Gondola ride were just sort of .... meh. Viator typically does a remarkable job but this one was not awesome. Our guide was nice enough but it was just kind of scattered and boring. The gondola ride seems pre packed and touristy .... which is what it is so that's why it felt that way .... I think we just wanted to hit a cafe and chill. After the tour we were so close to Campo San Marco ... the world famous Saint Mark's Square, we decided we had to at least check it out.
Campo San Marco and Saint Mark's Basilica are large and impressive. We decided to spend the money and go up the bell tower where we were given an incredible 360 degree view of the entire city. After catching the elevator back down, we decided to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner. The walk back was a little harder. We had already walked about 6 miles today. Our feet were a little sore and our patience a little thinned so we just bore down and weaved and dodged our way back.
We headed out for dinner around 8:30. Seeing as we had no idea where to go and it had finally started to rain, we asked the guy at the front desk if he had any recommendations. The dude proceeds to lock up the front desk and literally walks us to a restaurant, goes in, and gets us a table. Seriously? Well your Trip Adviser review just got another star buddy ....
Dinner at Trattoria Povoledo was fantastic. They seated us outside, right on the canal. It was a little chilly but not enough to thwart any enjoyment. We had our first bottle of wine and since we were in Venice .... we had to do seafood. Heather had the angler, and I had the sea bass. A dinner, bottle of wine, and desert later, we headed out to wander the streets again. This time closer to home .... we had only strolled a few hundred feet before we found what would turn out to be our final destination for the evening. A lovely little corner ristorante called Trattoria Vittoria da Alto. We initially just wanted a glass of wine but .... those of you who know us best that it just turned into the whole bottle. When in Venice .... drink wine is my motto. That Also became our second meal of the night. A delicious meat and cheese plate ..... after which we strolled back to the hotel. Went up on the bridge to take in the Venice Grand Canal at night .... and called it a night.
We ended this almost perfect day trying to figure out if the mini toilet next to the bigger toilet was used to wash your ass or bathe a baby. There's a video of this hilarious exchange. Available on request ....