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Published: June 21st 2011
Well despite a weekend full of transportation issues I still love Venice! We left for Venice on Friday and unfortunately we were forced to delay our train ticket because of a work phone call that we had to take. Then we missed the train because of some confusion with the time. Lucky the train lady took pity on us and let us change our ticket again despite a rule against that and on top of that we had to go into Mestre instead of Venice which was perfect since that is where Lena and I were staying anyway. That night we ventured into Venice for dinner and the city was truly breath-taking. Right when you leave the train station you are next to the Grand Canal which was beautiful. I have heard some stories about how smelly the canal was but it was not at all. The city was so beautiful at night and I could not wait to see it in the daytime on Saturday.
On Saturday we just walked around the city all day (well until happy hour). We toured the Duomo which is located in the famous St. Marcus Square. The entire ceiling of the duomo is painted in gold and the outside of the building looked more Byzantine than Italian. While we were standing in line waiting to get into the building we noticed that water was puddling around the building. The workers immediately stopped letting anyone in and started setting up raised walkways into the church. Apparently when the tide comes in (though it was only 1:30 in the afternoon) the water level raises so much that it starts flooding around the church. This is of course because the church (like all of Venice) was built on top of water and the high tide means that the water comes through holes in the ground that go all the way down to the water underneath. Even though this happens everyday instead of making a permanent raised platform (way too logical of an idea for Italians) the workers simply rebuild it everyday in the afternoon when the tide comes in. The water also enters the church itself and the scene looks a lot like Titanic with water coming over the marble steps. But the duomo itself was still so beautiful, very ornate.
We bought a couple of the traditional Venician masks. There are hundreds of shops selling thousands of masks all around the city because they are so famous. Luckily I have my great sister to take my very delicate mask home with her so that it does not get ruined during my next 5 weeks here.
The weather was so hot and after walking around the city for hours we decided to break at a Happy Hour with buy one get on free drinks (sangria included 😊. 4 hours later we left to go get ready for dinner. That night we went out to some of the local bars and I tried absinthe for my first time. The shot was on fire so we drank it through a straw though it still felt like it burned my throat all the day down. It ws disguesting and I saw no green fairy... Though I would do it again since it is absinthe after all!
Unfortunately the last train going back to Mestre left at 12:36 so Lena and I had to leave the group and catch it. 10 minutes into the trip we realized that the train passed our stop and were now heading into the country, we continued for another 10 minutes, meaning we were very far past our stop. We were of course on the last train into or out of Venice so Lena and I knew we would have to take a cab all the way back to mestre. Though scared to get off at the next stop because it was in an unhabited area and there were no ticket offices/people to beg to call a cab for us.... Luckily we then saw a Crown Plaza Hotel, knowing they would must likely speak English we went there and hoped that we could get them to call a cab for us. Luckily the worker again took pity on us and called a cab, though unfortunately all the cab companies are based in mestre so by the time the cab got there the bill was alreday $12.50. With only $65 dollars cash on us (Italian cabs dont take credit cards) in the backseat we prayed that the bill would not go over that. By the time we reached the hotel the bill was $60, on the plus side we had enough money, on the negetive side in US dollars this was a $90 cab ride. But knowing that the only other option was sleeping in the train station until 4am when the next train came we were able to shallow this charge and just accept it.
The next morning we checked out of the hotel but since our train that night did not leave until 7pm we had to check our bags into luggage storage at the train station. If you take one thing from this blog it should be this... DO NOT GO TO VENICE ON A SUNDAY OR IF YOU SEE 3 CRUISE SHIPS IN THE HARBOR. We waited in line for 45 minutes (which actually moved faster than I thought given the 50+ people in line) to check our bags. By this point we were getting very sick of Venice but we pushed on. Needing a drink given that last 24 hours we found this amazing shop that pours handmade wine into 1.5 liter water bottles for 3 Euro. There were about 8-10 wines to choose from and you pick it and he just fills it up! Brillant idea right? So we grabbed our bottles and made our way through the city. We took a back way to avoid the thousands of tourists roaming the city and found so many great bridges, canals, and shops. I have seen many pictures of Venice, you know the typical ones with the gondalas and canals and I can honestly say that every part of venice looks like this. It is so crazy that this whole city it merely islands and buildings built out of the water and are connected by 400+ bridges. Around every corner there is a new canal that is just as cute as the last one. So we just explored the entire city with 4.5 liters of wine in hand.
Our happiness soon passed when we returned to the train station later that night to find that our trainwas 35 minutes late. Thus causing us to miss our connecting train in Bologna which would make it have to wait 2 hours in the Bologna station to check the next train that it not leave until 12:45am, getting us back in Parma at 2am. Have I mentioned how much I hate the trains here?? So we waited the 35 minutes and got on our train. When we arrived in Bologna we had to take back all the evil things we said about the company because they in fact held the train for everyone. We all ran to our connecting train and still made it to Parma right on time at 11:30pm. The next day we started a seminar with American Law Professors and had to be at work by 8:30am so needless to say it was a long day.
Over all I loved Venice though would probably not return during the summer. There are way too many tourists and the streets are not wide enough for everyone. But this has definitely been one of my top favorite cities in Italy and cant wait to come back!
I am still deciding where I want to go next weekend, thinking about Lake Como but I hear it is a transportation nightmare to get to so not sure if I want to deal with that again. We will see.
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