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Trip Report Two days in Venice May 2016

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We were on a month long trip to Greece and took the opportunity for a short, bucket list stop in Italy visiting Florence for three days and Venice for two.

Several people had told us that they didn’t enjoy Venice mentioning cloudy polluted looking water, poor and expensive food, getting lost, even worse getting lost while hauling luggage over numerous bridges and crowds; however not put off, we wanted to experience it ourselves. We took the train from Florence to Venice. I had booked a hotel near the train station because I had read all about hauling that luggage over bridges.

What was unexpected was stepping out of the station and immediately seeing the Grand Canal. We just clung together and looked at it. A lady nearby took our camera and said you will want a picture of this. I couldn’t imagine a better first impression.

Our hotel was operated by Hotel Florida which was about 100 meters away from the station. Check in was easy and they gave us a map to our hotel Casanova ai Tolentini which was a budget hotel with the room being slightly larger than a walk in closet and with an external bathroom. However the price and location were fine. It was on the other side of Grand Canal. As we climbed that first big bridge with our small cabin sized bags, I understood why people had complained about luggage and bridges. We travel light but even so the bridges over the Grand Canal are high and long and people with big bags were certainly suffering.

After settling in we set out on an orientation walk. I like to explore the area immediately around our to help us find our way back. I had read a top 10 things to do in Venice and one of them was just get lost, so we did. We spent a good hour just wandering into back alleys and mostly residential areas with no tourists lurking about.. In the end we came out to a canal and on the opposite side was our hotel. Pure luck. We found Piazza Roma and bought our ticket for the airport bus then went to the canal to take the Vaporetto ferry along the Grand Canal. What a marvelous introduction to Venice. I have to admit I pretty much all I saw was through the camera lens. There is so much eye candy in Venice it’s almost too much to take in.

We got off at Santa Maria della Salute but from there you can see St Marks so we hoped the next Vaporetto to St Marks. While the Piazza San Marco was crowded it was early evening and after admiring the view for a while we got into the line and in a few minutes managed to get in to St Marks. Afterwards we went to the Doges Palace but the wait seemed to be too long. It was at this time we realized we had only purchased a one way ticket on the Vaporetto, so taking the spirit of the advice, to get lost in Venice we walked back to the hotel. There were signs pointing to Piazza Roma and since the hotel was near there we just followed the signs. We took a convoluted way that we can never hope to retrace but had a wonderful time exploring back alleys and crossed dozens of canals. There were several places that had more than one sign for Piazza Roma but pointing in opposite directions. Somehow we made it back and that gave us confidence to just enjoy the experience.

We looked for a restaurant near our hotel and found Da Biasini near three bridges. It was right on a secondary canal but had lots of water craft including Gondolas passing by. We had roast peppers and Zucchini with a lovely Gnocchi as our main and with a liter of wine, 42 euros. We were wondering what could possibly gone wrong for the people who were telling tales of poor food in Venice. This place was nice.

Quote of the day. “I wouldn’t want a more basic room than this” Stan
“What do you mean, basic, it doesn’t even have a bathroom” Lolly

Next morning we had breakfast at Hotel Florida which was included in the price. It too was basic, with coffee, yogurt and warm croissants. Oh my, the croissants were very good.

Learning from yesterday’s, one way Vaporetto ticket mistake, we bought a full day pass. We appear to have chosen a commuter ferry because we went out of the Grand Canal and passed the cruise ship port and stopped at several piers on various islands. The people on the boat looked to be locals going about their business which was kind of a cool experience. We eventually ended up in Murano and watched a glass blowing demonstration then caught the next ferry back to Venice.
We were hungry so we got off the ferry in a side canal near the Grand Canal. We saw a delightful looking Restaurant on the other side, with bright red umbrellas and the canal and a bridge as a backdrop.

Trattoria Da Bepi is where we discovered what can go wrong.. We ordered a beer and Pizza. The beer appeared immediately. The pizza did not. Our waiter was spending his time with a table of 5 rather attractive ladies. After a 20 minute wait, we got his attention and he seemed to be surprised that we didn’t have our Pizza. ( who did he think was going to bring it to us) Twenty minutes later he came out said they had run out of dough and it will be coming soon. Eventually our Pizza came over an hour after we ordered. As I recall it was actually very good but that's not what we are going to be remembering when we tell tales of Da Bepi
Afterwards we walked around and found a wide street just full of shops and we eventually arrived at the Rialto Bridge. We caught another Vaporetto to continue our tour of the Grand Canal. Because we had already seen the buildings the day before I became aware of the people hanging around the canal. We had fun people watching. They were on the sidewalks, bridge, piers, in restaurants, boats, gondolas and on balconies.

On this ferry we managed to snag seats on the outside deck at the back. There was a young couple who chose to stand and somehow the lady managed to wedge herself behind one of the seats and the hull of the boat. After drinking from a brown paper bag, the man climbed up on a seat and tried to get in the tiny space beside her. While executing this maneuver he slipped and dropped his knapsack into the canal. Apparently their money, credit cards and passports were in the knapsacks. I suspect they were in for a few long days at their embassy.

Quotes of the day
“I have never had to make a beer last for an hour” Stan
“What have you done? You have blood all over your face and shirt.” Lolly. Apparently I skinned a knuckle and never felt it.
“I can’t believe you just dropped the knapsack into the canal” unknown, distressed young lady

Here are images of our two days in Venice. We will be coming back.

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