Onto part two of our Italian adventure…
Cury and I both walked away from Venice with mixed feelings, but before I get to all of that, let me first talk about our travel from Florence to Venice. That has always been the most intimidating thought about European travel before I went myself. First, It’s not nearly as confusing as you would think. All of the train station’s and airport’s signs had an English version of instructions on them- just like the multiple languages you see on our signs here in the States. So, you WILL be able to figure out how to get where you’re going. The train station in Florence was called, “Trenitalia” we paid €66/ticket and we arrived in Venice in 2.5 hours.
**tip/fact** if you missed out on buying any souvenirs in Florence, there are a few shops at the train station as well as a cafe, food court, and of course… a freaking McDonald’s.
Also, I loaded my kindle with all kinds of books to keep me entertained all of the planes and trains. Lauren Graham’s book, “Talking as fast as I can” was too good, and it made me love her even more – which I didn’t think was even possible.
We read on every blog that Venice smells bad because of the water and sea life. We really didn’t notice any smells at all. It may have been the time of year that we went. Each day was only a high of 70 degrees, so maybe it gets smellier during the warmer seasons… When you walk out of the train station, there is a large flight of stairs and you will probably be asked a dozen times if you need help with your luggage. The people we traveled with took them up on this. We had a very excited two year old with us, all of our luggage (filled with heavy wine bottles from Florence;) and a stroller, so the break was nice. We took out our wallets to tip the guy €6 for helping us and all he said was, “no, €15” So, unless you want to pay €15 for someone to take your bags a few feet, don’t let them touch your stuff. From there, you will get on a boat that will take you to different parts of the city. There’s map on the boat and it’s very easy to figure out where your going… this coming from a very directionally challenged person. Our stop was “St. Marco square” It’s the most popular stop.
**tip** if you are traveling with a toddler, leave the stroller at the hotel while you’re in venice. You will not see a wheel of any kind here. No bicycles, mopeds, cars, strollers.. nothing. All of the bridges that cover the canals are steps, making it impossible to travel on anything other than your feet.
We stayed at the JW Marriot Resort & Spa. The family we traveled with had arranged all of our hotels and Airbnbs. The Marriot is beautiful and luxurious. Cury and I are not. haha! If you’re looking for a hotel that is very American-ized, this one is for you. If money isn’t an issue, this hotel is for you. If you don’t mind a 20 minute boat ride to and from the city of Venice each time you go out, then this hotel is for you. It was quite a disappointment for the “authentic European adventure” we were hoping for, and had experienced up until this point. It was a lovely hotel and we were very well taken care of, but it was not the place for us. Venice is known for Prosecco, so naturally, we had a glass with breakfast. You won’t find your buttery, flakey croissants in Venice. Breakfast pastries are doughnuts. And breakfast sandwiches are cold – hard boiled eggs, mayo, tomato, and lettuce – so good even though it seemed more like lunch food to me. Two more complaints about Venice, and I will stop. Because in the end, the city was beautiful and I feel lucky to have experienced it. I just wish we had known a few things before committing to three nights here…
One: Venice is a major Cruise ship destination. So, a lot of tourists. And a lot of tourists means a lot of people trying to sell you stuff.. all. the. time. We didn’t experience that at all in Florence, so we were super annoyed by it.
Two: The city is wildly confusing. I think it’s mostly because it’s such an old city, and the way the roads were designed way back when don’t make a lot of sense with how the city has grown. We couldn’t find anything we were looking for. And the chances of you going to a location then ever seeing it again were so slim. So if you see a place that you may want to check out, just go. right then. We would walk and turn and walk and turn down these very narrow streets for so long only to find a dead end. Start looking for lunch before you’re hungry. haha
WINE! We loved trying new kind of wine – Amorone. If i understood everything correctly after speaking with an older winemaker gentleman, Amorone wine is their regional wine. What makes it so unique is the process in which it’s made. Rather than squeezing fresh grapes, they make the wine from dried out grapes – so basically they make the wine from raisins! It was so unique and so neat to hear him passionately talk about his art in making wine. He also makes Vodka, Rum, and Whiskey with grape skins. (grappa)
We did not partake in a gondola ride ( I know you have been wondering since the beginning of this post) It’s the first thing people as us about when we talk about Venice. It cost about €80/person, and while that is pricey, it’s not the reason we didn’t do it. It was more so because we had already had our fair share of boat rides. Plus, we saw a gondola traffic jam and I wanted nothing to do with that. haha. I still can’t believe that I didn’t catch a good picture of a sunset on my camera. The sunsets in Venice were unreal. There’s really nothing like drinking wine while watching the sunset over water.
FOOD! one of my favorite parts about travel. I already told you about breakfast. And lunch was usually prosecco – I’m not gonna lie. But our dinners consisted of a lot more seafood than Florence dinners. I’m a fan of most seafood, but also quite picky about it. I wasn’t a huge fan. It had a real wild taste to it. So I stuck with cheese and pasta for the rest of the time. We noticed that the spaghetti was consistently prepared a little different than the spaghetti in Florence. The spaghetti in Venice was very oily and completely covered with roasted tomatoes. The spaghetti in Florence was more garlic-y and topped with a thick sauce, no tomatoes. Both so good though. I feel like you have to try a few desserts if you ever find yourself in Venice – tiramisu, macaroons, and handmade chocolates. We had a hard time finding Gelato in Venice, and when we did it was always freezer burnt – so maybe it’s not a big thing there like it is in Florence. Dal Morro is a place to check out while you’re there. It’s the only type of Fast Food we came across (except at the train station) There pasta is fantastic, and it’s fun to walk around while shoving your mouth full of spaghetti 😉 It may be different in the Summer, but when we traveled here in April, the sun would set a little after 7PM, so we would head back to the hotel around 6:30PM because it would get really cold. In summary, Venice was beautiful and an experience that I will never forget. I’m forever grateful for it. Looking back, one night (two days) would have been plenty of time for us to visit.