Life is good when you wake up to a complimentary breakfast with a colorful view of the Venetian waters. You can't help but feel fortunate and smile while sipping on the warm morning cappuccinos. It's a beautiful way to begin the day. It wins the award for being the Most Romantic city. Actually, Prague in Czech Republic is pretty up there too in romance, but Venice is a no-brainer.
Our apologies for the lack of blogging, we have gotten some flack for not posting as of late! Wifi is not the greatest in some of the hotels and we are limited to our phones. :) we have been writing blogs on the side for posting later too! So to catch up, here is one from Venezia, Italia!
The entire city was so vividly beautiful and photogenic that it almost seemed like facade and a fake city. We questioned if we were on some type of Hollywood movie set, or a Disneyland set, or a Truman Show deal. How can an entire city be so well-kept for so many centuries and look perfectly aged and artfully decorated? Even the dead plants on the windowsills looked nice and the moldy, broken wooden shutters were cracked artistically. People pay big bucks in California for this broken, rustic, century-old look!
Venice is a little bigger than we imagined, and is a completely walkable city. Maybe a little too walkable. No bicycles or automobiles in sight. Our hotel clerk advised us to not even bring a map and just follow the signs around the island for San Marco Square and the Rialto Bridge. This mapless adventure led us on an 8.5 mile walk on our first day and 6.5 mile walk on the second day. All the cute streets and canals start looking so similar and it felt like we walked in a circle. We also noticed the aging local population. There are only about 65,000 people who reside in Venice, as the young ones are driven out of the city due to the waters and touristy culture.
We tried to avoid eating the stereotypical pasta and pizza dishes in Venice since we were saving those cuisines for the originating pasta and pizza capital, Naples. But after walking 8.5 miles, we deserved a spaghetti and therefore we had some delicious, perfectly al dente spaghetti with a fresh caprese salad. There are so many types of spaghetti dishes to choose from, and the noodles tasted fresh and non-processed.
Other local foods we didn't get a chance to try (must save it for the next time!): Venetian tramezzini tuna sandwiches (they go for 1.60 euros each!), salted cod, seafood, cicido, tripe, vin brule (hot wine), limoncello...
Unfortunately, Jay came down with some food poisoning during our first morning in Venice, probably from the yogurt or eggs we had for breakfast. We were also recovering from some bad colds that kicked in a week after our wedding... After all the energy and stress from wedding festivities, our bodies just took a toll and gave in. We haven't had colds or flus in over 2 years, so I guess it was time! We kept the gastronomic adventures pretty simple for Venezia! But we had some other fantastic food in other cities throughout Italy, so no complaints here.
Murano Glass Factory tour - a waste of time
We had a free tour of the Murano Glass Company, which were offered by our hotel during booking. The actual cost for a tour is about 10 euros, which is completely not worth it. This free tour entailed a free boat ride to the island where the Murano Glass Company resided, and a short tour of the glass blowing and showrooms. These extravagant hand-blown structures includes statues, plates, wine sets, and other various glass art. Murano is mainly known for their chandeliers, which can be found throughout Italy, especially at the older establishments. When we arrived at the B.F. Signoretti Murano Glass Factory, we were greeted by two hosts and led into the glass blowing facility where the glass Masters were doing their thing. This tour realistically lasted for about 5 minutes, and then the rest of the hour was spent perusing the expensive showcases from different glass artists with a host "encouraging" purchases. They also warn everyone to not purchase Murano glass elsewhere as the knockoffs are made in China and the only way to tell if it's real is from the Murano certificate. We quickly decided that the 80s style glass art was not for us and after showing disinterest in our faces, we were led to the "cheap" souvenir store on the first floor with more 80s style glass beads, jewelry and trinkets. The change in the nice hosts' demeanor made it almost a crime for us to not drop a few hundred dollars on a glass structure, so we excused ourselves outside to wait for a water taxi to pick us up. So a big tip from us: skip the Murano Glass Factory tour and spend more time enjoying the art on the main island.
The Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute (Basilica of Saint Mary of Health)
We visited this famous basilica that was built in 1861 in response to the devasting outbreak of the Plague and 1/3 of the Venetian population dying. Visitors come here to pray for health and healing, and we came by to pray for our loved ones.
Skipping the Gondolas
For years, Venice has been famous for its gondola rides and singing gondoliers. However, upon arriving, we decided to opt out of the traditional gondola ride as it was definitely a tourist trap, and the gondoliers worked hard paddling the gondolas by themselves. Realistically, none of the locals ride gondolas. When emergency water boats sped by, they would create turbulent wakes, and the water would get super choppy. The gondoliers struggled to paddle four people who just sat there as dead weight. It is 2015 and all Venetians have a motorboat... Why struggle to paddle manually? Plus, the $90 per person pricetag was very steep.. We took a small watertaxi that was comfortable and that was sufficient for scenic enjoyment on the water. :)
Venice was a beautiful and relaxing place to stay for a few days. If you can look past the touristy aspects and just soak in the charm and beauty, it's nice. The island is made up of small streets and passageways, so it was nice not seeing a car anywhere for a few days while on the island. Despite the long days on our feet, the beautiful thing about the walking is that it didn't feel tiring. There is so much beauty to see in each hidden alley way with various handmade Venetian masks, bruschetterias, art, and canals. There's not much else to do but relax, and that was a treat. We were ready for some more action thereafter, so we headed down to Viareggio, Italy to celebrate carnevale! Here are some more Venice pictures in the meantime.