I am feeling slightly overwhelmed with writing up my entire trip so I thought I would piecemeal it, starting with Venice.
It is interesting to reflect back on a trip once it is over. All the planning and anticipation compressed into a short time span. So let's reflect, shall we?
Jessica & I flew out very early Thursday morning (Nilufer was staying a few extra days and so was flying a different airline). I once again found myself in the position of needed a few more miles to earn elite status on Continental so Jessica & I flew US Airways due to their partnership with Continental. (Sound familiar? Yup - I will be elite on both Continental & Alaska next year. Woohoo!!) Slight mistake. I have a new rule for myself - only fly non-US based airlines to Europe. Seriously you are going to charge $5 for a headset to watch movies on a trans-atlantic flight? And no socks or toothbrush? Besides my complaining about the airline itself, our flights were fine, if a little bumpy. I don't like it when it's really bumpy on the big planes, but we landed safely! (On a complete side note, I don't think the United / Continental merger will be good. The little things that made Continental stand out in my mind are starting to slowly go by the wayside.)
We met up with Nilufer at the Venice airport (our flights landed within 30 minutes of each other) and it was time for vacation to start! A ride on a bus, followed by a ride on a water bus and then we were at our hotel. We checked in, freshened up a little and were off to explore. It had been a long flight and a long couple of days leading up to vacation so it ended up being an early night. But not before gelato! Gelato flavors: tiramisu, hazelnut, pistachio
We woke up and headed over to the main hotel (we were staying in the annex) for breakfast. Yum! Fresh baked rolls & croissants and delicious cappuccinos! With our tummies full we set off to catch the vaperetto (water bus) to cruise the Venetian lagoon. First stop was Torcello, reputedly the birthplace of Venice but now mostly uninhabited. We walked along the canal to see the church and amazing mosaics!!
Our next stop was Burano, known for its colorful houses and lace. We didn't end up seeing much lace, but we had fun with all the colorful houses. There was a lace store with the name Emilia, so of course I had to go in there! We had lunch at a little restaurant, my first pizza margherita of the trip. After lunch we caught the boat to Murano, known for its blown glass. It was getting dark by the time we arrived, but we still had plenty of time to shop and shop we did. We took the boat back to our hotel and dropped off our packages before heading out to find dinner. Dinner was a Rick recommendation (after the first Rick recommendation had no availability). Lasagna - can you believe it? Well, their pizza cook called in sick so pizza wasn't even an option. Gelato flavors: coffee & hazelnut
Today, it was time to explore Venice. Sirens had gone off in the morning, which we found out meant there was flooding. Flooding added another element to our (my) navigation. One wrong turn and detour and we finally made it to Ca' Rezzonico, a former palace, but now a museum. The ballroom was beautiful!! After the museum, we took the boat around Venice. It was definitely a rainy & windy boat ride, but finally we arrived at St. Mark's Square. We were hungry and Jessica & Nilufer saw Ristarante Principessa (with pink decorations) and thought we should eat there. After all, it was a restaurant for Princesses, right? Besides, we were cold & wet. It was going to be iffy given it's location but thought it wouldn't be that bad. Well, it was. But at least we had a respite from the rain.
I love St. Mark's, it is one of my favorite churches. I really like the Byzantine influence. We walked up to the roof and tried to avoid the rain drops. I really enjoyed the view, gazing out of St. Mark's Square. Next was the Doge's Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs was open! Last time I was there it was closed for renovations. We walked over the Bridge of Sighs to see the prisons. But unlike the prisoners, we were able to walk back across the bridge. Whew! One of these days I am going to do the Secret Itineraries tour at the Doge's Palace! The palace is beautiful by itself, but walking through the secret passageways and hidden doors would be so cool I think.
It was growing dark so we walked around and did some shopping. Dinner was at a restaurant near the hotel, which was quite good! I wish we had found it earlier. Gelato flavors: hazelnut, tiramisu, strawberry, banana, pistachio. Um, yes that would be 5 flavors, but not at all at once. We went to a gelato place more than once today. Hello, my name is Emily & I love gelato. Besides, it's vacation, right?
Our last morning in Venice - we were up early and finished packing in record time. Which meant we were able to walk back over to the Rialto Bridge one last time before eating one last breakfast at our hotel and catching the water bus to the train station.
Farewell Venice! On to Florence...