Monday, October 15, 2012

Italy - day 1 and 2

Arrival - Oct 13

We arrived in Venice after 21 hours of travel and no sleep.  It is nothing like what I expected, but at the same time it’s exactly what I thought it would be.  There are no cars, and the roads (alleys) are very narrow.  Canals and bridges throughout.  Buildings are old, and the crowds are thick. 

We took the water taxi from the airport to the grande canal, and then found our bed and breakfast.  It is wonderful.  You go down an alley to find it, and when you come to the mosaic on the ground, you turn down an even narrower alley. (Seriously – that was the directions we were given to get there.) There’s an iron door on the left,that gets released when you ring the bell.  Then you squeeze through between a couple of old buildings, up some stairs and you’re here – overlooking one of the main alleys, but completely hidden from everybody.  It’s a little bit loud from the crowds outside, but that adds to the ambiance.  It’s a moderized place, but very charming. 

When we got here, I figured that I’d been awake for 23 hours  It was about 3pm at that point, so we decided to try to stay awake until mid-evening.  We went for a walk, followed the B&B guy’s directions to a little place for early dinner (late lunch) of tomato salad and tortellini – not very good, actually, which reinforces my belief that restaurants who provide menus in 8 languages aren’t the best source for food - and then wandered around a little more.

We found the San Marco square, which is amazing.  Walked around the canal, got lost in some of the back streets, took pictures until it got too dark out, and then came back to the B&B.  

Ginny’s pedometer says that, although we sat for over 11 hours on planes, we walked 5.5km that day.  It feels like it.  I also stayed awake for 31 hours.

I let myself fall asleep at about 8:30 the first night, and woke up about 1:00am.  I was wide awake for a few hours, but Ginny woke up too, so we raded the kitchen to get some fruit and cookies to tide us over, then fell back asleep at about 4:30am.

Venice and Burano – Oct 14

I woke up at 10:00am, and managed to rouse Ginny about a half hour later.  Although breakfast is typically only served until 10 at th B&B, the owner said it wasn’t a problem and told us to sit.  So, we had granola, yogurt and fruit before heading off again.

We didn’t really have a plan.  There’s a big mass that is popular here on Sundays, but neither of us are relligious.  We also thought about just wandering the streets of Venice to see what we found, but we ended up buying a pass for the water taxi and then taking it to one of the lagoon islands, Burano.

Burano was a wonderful surprise.  I’ve heard it described as the place with colourful houses, but this was out of this world.  It makes me want to go home and paint my house hot pink – screw my conservative beige, taupe and grey-homed neighbours.  Every turn we took brought us to another street, alley or square that was bursting with colours and flowers.

Hot pink

They also make hand made lace there, and although niether Ginny nor I are generally big fans of lace, we both found ourselves oohing and aahing.  It’s really nice stuff.  Expensive, though.  Once jacket that Ginny was looking at cost 390 Euros.  We ended up buying silk scarves for ourselves, at a much more reasonable price.  They aren’t lace, but we were told that they were hand made on the island.   Ginny’s is red, gold and black. Mine is cream, lavender and blue.

There were cats everywhere, but they all seemed to have collars and homes.  I suppose that on such a small island (with no cars) being an outdoor cat probably isn’t as dangerous as it would be at home.  There was one cat that cracked me up by sitting just outside the boundaries of an outdoor restaurant and sat staring at the clientelle as they ate, presumably hoping to get a treat himself.  I did stop to say hello to a black cat, and as I scratched her head a swan swam up the canal and hissed at me. I started to get worried, but when the cat backed away, the swan settled down.  I guess swans don’t like cats.

I had my first gelato.  Since we had such a late breakfast, we decided to skip lunch, but got gelato as a snack.  I got lemon flavour, which was delicious.  Ginny got strawberry, and it was like eating berries straight from the garden.

After spending most of the day in Burano, we came back to the room and then headed out for Pizza.  I had pizza with procuto, artichoke hearts and wild mushrooms.  Ginny had picante salami on hers.  I’ve been offered salami a few times here and turned it down, but having tasted Ginny’s pizza, I realize that the salami here is nothing like what we have at home.   Pizzas were huge.  They came out on these big plates, not having been sliced.  They also had super thin crusts, and had had generous drizzlings of olive oil and fresh tomato sauce on top.  We cut them into the traditional slices, but then had to fold those in half in order to get them to our mouths in once piece.  Totally worth it, though – and so much better than I’ve ever had at pizza hut.  Neither of us could finish our pizza or our salads in the end.  We also learned our lesson, after the waiter brought out a horrible drink for us as we waited for our salads.  Neither of us liked it, so left them on the table.  However, since we tasted them, they were ours.  We were charged 6 euros for them, so in the future we will be declining anything that is served to us that we don’t specifically ask for.  I noticed that most of the other clientelle were Italian, and we were the only ones who had them served to us.  Oh well,live and learn.

We’re back in our rooms now (9:00pm), and I’m pretty impressed that we got through the day without having to take a nap.  We’re both starting to droop now, though, so I think it’ll be an early night again.  We plan to get up ~ 6:00 tomorrow, so that we can go back to the San Marco Square before the crowds get there and take some pictures.


  1. Oh what fun! I love Venice, I could spend the whole day going around and around on the water taxi/bus thing. And I did. You have to go to St Marks Cathedral.

  2. How do you say "insanely jealous" in Italian?

  3. Janice I can see we are going to be treated to some super wonderful pictures! Thanks so much for sharing them. It looks absolutely wonderful there! Thin crust pizza you have to fold over dripping with olive oil~foodgasm!!