Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Venice Redux

Many of you know that I photographed and wrote about Venice to death back in March of last year, when I was there at Carnival and had an assignment to write about it for Connection magazine (yes, that monthly publication put out by US Army Germany). Therefore, I really don't feel like going into great detail here, and I don't even have that many photos this time.


Monday, Sept. 24

We arrived at Marco Polo airport around noon. Having traveled through Treviso previously, I was unfamiliar with the logistics of getting into Venice from this airport. We needed vaporetto tickets anyway, so we bought 72 hour passes, and then were told to take the #5 bus to Piazzale Roma. From there, we got on the vaporetto and went out to the island of Lido, where we were staying.

Once we arrived at Lido, we had a bit of difficulty finding our hotel. Seems the hotel wasn't as close to the vaporetto station as we were led to believe. It was a 5 minute walk...not bad without luggage, but not pleasant when you have it. But we eventually found it and had no trouble checking in. Luggage was schlepped to the 2nd floor, which is actually the 3rd floor by US standards. There was an elevator, but it was one of those old, scary looking ones.

We rested a bit, and then went out in search of provisions. Lance stayed in the room, but my SIL and I went to a shop down the street and got panini. I got Lance a salami and cheese. For myself, I got bacon and brie on olive bread (it wasn't conventional bacon...more like dried prosciutto). We took the food back to our room and ate.

The decision was made not to go to mainland Venice that day. We just wanted to relax a bit and explore Lido. So we walked around and checked out the beach and other parts of the island, and I seem to remember us ending up back in the room late in the afternoon, where I dozed off for a bit. We had been up very early, since we had a train from Garmisch to Munich, and then our flight.

After the nap, we went to a restaurant down the street that we had discovered earlier. Dinner was okay there...good, but not fantastic. I had an eggplant pizza. SIL and I shared a bit of wine and got pretty happy. We went to another place later on for gelato, and then ended up sitting out with some more wine (I found that I kind of like Pinot Grigio). It was a pretty nice evening. And the weather was just gorgeous.

Tuesday, Sept. 25

Lance and I went down to the breakfast room and found a nice spread. We had a fairly leisurely morning. I booked us on a walking tour of Venice, but it wasn't supposed to start until 11. We were on the vaporetto before 10 and at the royal gardens, where the tour started. We just relaxed in the gardens for a bit. We knew the day ahead would be busy, and we were in no hurry.

The tour started shortly after 11 and lasted about 2 hours. It wasn't good, for reasons I stated in an earlier post. The highlight was supposed to be the basilica, and we never even went inside. And the walk didn't seem to really take us anywhere else, except Rialto Bridge. And the crowds made it difficult to stay with the group.

After the tour, we stayed in the Rialto Bridge area and decided to grab some lunch. We were just looking around for places to eat, and just got pulled into one without really wanting to. The menu prices were obscene, and we were actually just looking at the menu, but the waiter practically grabbed Lance and pulled him inside, and we followed. Once we were seated, I asked if we should stay. I had my reservations due to the high prices and the forceful ways of the waiter. But the decision was made to stay there. It was here that I had one of the most horrible meals of my life. No lie. And I felt very nauseous all day afterwards. Lance and his sister said their meals were okay. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, so I could tell you all to avoid it. It had signs all around it that said "Casa della pizza" and "Casa della lasagne"...so if you see those signs AVOID THE RESTAURANT (if the waiters don't see you and accost you first). And I won't even mention the absolutely disgusting restroom there. Oh wait, I just did.

The afternoon was spent in Piazza San Marco. By the time we finished lunch, getting into the basilica was much easier and faster than it had been in the morning (it was high tide in the morning, which closes off two of the entrances). So we visited that and spent an extra 3 euros to go up to the loggia. Well worth it for the views and to see some of the old artifacts associated with the basilica, including the original 4 horses that were once confiscated by Napoleon. Reproductions of the horses grace the outside of the basilica now.

I skipped the Doge's Palace (having been there before), so while Lance and SIL were there, I went across the piazza to the Correr Museum. It was disappointing, to say the least, and took half an hour to walk through. It's connected to the Archaeological Museum though, so if you're going to see that anyway (and I also found that disappointing), then you might as well just see both. Your ticket pays for both anyway (and also covers the Doge's Palace and the Library of St. Mark). We all planned to go to the Archaeological Museum together, so I skipped that and tried to get in to see the Library of St. Mark. It was closed.

I met up with Lance and his sis an hour after we parted ways, and we went to the Archaeological Museum. I was almost denied entrance, because they scanned my ticket when I went into the Correr Museum. So I had to explain to the woman that I was going there to see the other museum. She reluctantly let me in.

Anyway, let me recap: Correr Museum - not really worth your time. Archaeological Museum - ditto. Library - I wouldn't know. Doge's Palace - one of the major attractions in Venice, so you better go there. Same for St. Mark's.

We needed a break after all this museum hopping, so we grabbed gelato (what else?) and relaxed in the square for a bit.

The rest of the day is kind of a blur. I remember taking the vaporetto back to Lido because it was getting a bit chilly and I didn't have a jacket. We spent a short time at the hotel and then went back into Venice, but took the vaporetto that went all the way down the Grand Canal, and then got off at the train station. We had dinner in that area...a place next to where I had lunch my first time in Venice. I just had a cheese omelette since my stomach was still tentative. Afterwards, we got on the vaporetto to go back to Lido, but the route changed after we got on and we were practically out to Murano before we realized it. We had to backtrack and get on a different vaporetto. Good thing we didn't have any particular agenda.

Wednesday, Sept. 26

Overnight thunderstorms woke me up around 6, and they never really let up. We hung out in the hotel until it was almost checkout time. Our flight didn't even leave Venice until 9 PM. We checked out, left our luggage in the lobby, and ventured out in the wind and rain. Once we reached Venice, we just spent our time ducking into shops. We had lunch at a place near the train station. We basically stayed out until we couldn't stand it anymore, and then went back to Lido for dessert, went back to the hotel to pick up our stuff, paid for a ticket to ride the special boat out to the airport, walked about 7 minutes to get to the airport, and then spent the rest of our day there.

Marco Polo airport sucks until you get past the security checkpoints. There is nothing to do before that point. Everyone was at the cafeteria-style restaurant, and we ate there too. They had American-style pizza (??), sandwiches, desserts, salads, and a few other things. While we were eating, they announced that check-in began for our flight, so we took care of that, got through security, and then found a nice variety of shops and food. Oh well. And our flight was delayed too, so we spent half a day at the damn airport.

So yeah...this trip to Venice...not stellar.

Anyway, I promised a handful of photos. Here they are...not my best work, but my previous pictures of Venice were some of my best photos ever.

No comments: