I. Venice


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April 2nd 2010
Published: April 25th 2010
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Friday, April 2

Our flight landed in Milan around 8:00am. We then found a shuttle company that would take us into downtown Milan where we could catch a train to Venice.

After a ride of about 40 minutes, we were at Milan's Stazione Centrale. We waited in line to buy our ticket, but unfortunately, we had just missed one train, and the next one was full. So we had to take the 12:30 train. With some time to kill, we decided to grab a bite the eat. There didn't seem to be much around, so we decided to go the the Milanese McDonalds--my first Mickie D's experience in Europe. An interesting note: McDonald's in Milan have bouncers! There was this big guy in a suit, and his only job was the straighten the chairs and monitor the people inside. I guess McDonalds can get pretty crazy in Milan?

Afterwords, we walked around a market for a while and bought some Italian pastries (which were not as good as French pastries). Then we hopped on our train to Venice!

I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was sleep--but the countryside was so beautiful that
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first view of Venice
I couldn't shut my eyes! There were rolling hills with cypress trees and white houses with red tile roofs. There were little villages perched atop mountains, and there was always, always the Alps rising in the distance.

We passed through Verona and then Padua on the way. Let me tell you, now I understand why all the shit hit the fan in "Romeo and Juliet". You recall how the story is set in Verona, and how after Juliet's parents discover that she has married Romeo, he flees to Padua to await reconciliation? And then how after Friar Lawrence fake poisons her, but sends a message to Romeo in Padua to tell him that she's not actually dead? And how Romeo, not receiving the message in time, go to Juliet's tomb and kills himself? And how then when Juliet awakes, she seems him dead and kills herself? You know the story.

WELL, it turns out that Verona to Padua is about 30 MINUTES by train! No wonder Romeo didn't get the message in time! That's probably seven hours by donkey!

Star-crossed lovers aside, Cyntia and I reached Venice by around 3:00pm. The great thing about the Venice train
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the train station to the left
station, is that it spits in out in the heart of the city, right on the Grand Canal! So the first thing we did was take some pictures. Then we bought a map and began the process of finding our way to the hostel. Here's a note about Venice: the roads resemble a pile of spaghetti dropped onto the floor, so having a map is almost useless. One of the great tourist motto in Venice is that "you have to get lost". And whether you choose to or not, trust me, you WILL get lost.

But that really was one of our favorite things about Venice--that when you let yourself get lost you discover hidden pathways, seldom visited courtyards, and more. But for the moment, the task at hand was to find the hostel. We must have looked "fresh off the boat" so to speak, because we stopped every five minutes to take a picture or marvel at the picturesque canals and houses we were passing.

Everything is Venice is a postcard-worthy image.

Finally, after navigating campos (squares) and calles (streets) we found our hostel which was right off of the Grand Canal. It was so cool! It was a renovated canal house that still had the original 400-hundred-year-old doors. We met Matt the Hostel Guy (as we would later call him), and got settled in.

With no time to lose, we set off in the direction of San Marco square, which seemed like a labyrinth away. Of course, we never made it there. After an hour of being lost (and loving it) we decided that we would just take the water bus there some other time. So we continued to stroll around, and visited several churches along the way.

We decided it was time to find some food. Venice is a very expensive place to eat. And when we looked at the menus, it said 'antipasti', 'first pasta', 'second pasta', 'dessert', which made it seem like you're supposed to order all of them to have a full meal. Cyntia and I were confused, because that would come out to 40 euro per person! So we found some pizza instead. I had an artichoke pizza, and Cyntia had the Diavola pizza with spicy sausage. The thing about pizzas in Italy is that you order a whole one for yourself (it's about
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canals!
12 or 13 inches wide), but because the crust is so thin, it's easy to eat the whole thing. Also, they don't serve tap water (because it's not good in Venice), so you have to buy water everywhere you go.

After dinner, it was getting a little late, so we decided to call it an early night and return to the hostel to take our much needed showers (we hadn't had one since Besancon). I got there and saw that I didn't have any sheets. Matt the Hostel Guy, who was a South African traveler just passing through and temporarily working there (there's a lot of people like this at hostels), told me that my sheets were still a little damp. I was getting grumpy, because I wanted to sleep! He told me they didn't have a dryer, and that I should just lay them out on the radiators to dry. I grudingly laid them out, pissed that I had to do this at all, and took my shower and stayed up as late as I could waiting for them to dry. Around midnight, they were finally dry enough, and I made my bed and passed out.







Additional photos below
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our hostel is the greyish building
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we sat along the water for a while
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go Italy!
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there are always gondolas moored along the canals
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Carnival masks are everywhere in Venice
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our dinner
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quiet walkway!


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