Thursday, December 04, 2008

Venice - Day 1

I have to say I really like late morning/early afternoon flights. It was very nice to not have to leave home at the crack of dawn. We flew through Minneapolis then Amsterdam to Venice. Our flights were good and on time. The Amsterdam airport is HUGE. We taxied for over 30 minutes before we got to the terminal. It was prettily decorated with Delft style ornaments. There were lots of cheeses and flower bulbs for sale. I passed.

Our flight to Venice was about another hour and a half. Flying over the Alps was gorgeous. They were all snow covered and pointy. It looked like Meringue. I was sitting on the right side of the plane so I was treated to a breathtaking view of all of Venice as we flew in. I could see the Piazza and the towers and so many churches. It got me so excited for our trip.

All of the guidebooks, websites, and my mother had said Venice was terribly expensive. That was an understatement. It's probably the most expensive place I've ever been! We took the vaperetto (water bus) to the city. It was 12 Euro each ($15.25) and took an hour and a half. It was very scenic though and really neat to approach the city that way. One of the stops was at Murano. The sun was actually shining. Everything was beautiful and sparkly. We wouldn't see that again! We could have take a faster water taxi directly to the hotel but that would have been 90 E each ($114).

It was an easy walk to our hotel the American Dinesen. It's situated on a small canal just a few blocks from the Peggy Guggenheim museum and the Accademia bridge. Our room was nice and comfortable. We had a little balcony overlooking the canal. We had a short nap.

We woke up around 5 pm. Bad news. The Italians usually don't eat dinner until 7:30 or later. Most restaurants are open from 1130-230 then close again until 7 or 730. The guy at the front desk was very helpful and recommended a great restaurant that was open. It was about a 10 minute walk. We went up and over the Accademia Bridge for the first – and nowhere near the last – time across the Grand Canal and through the Campo St Stefano. We had a bottle of white wine. Kurt had tagliatelle pasta with red sauce, swordfish, eggplant and olives and I had vermicelli with clams. The waiter complimented us on ordering Venetian food rather than eating like tourists!

It was still early so we decided to explore. Our first stop was at St. Stefano's church. It was beautiful inside with Renaissance masters art, marble and candlelight. I do love old churches. It was a 4 Star! We headed through the narrow streets and over the canals to the Piazza San Marco. it was gorgeous all light up. Plus there weren't any tourists (or pigeons) to block our view. We decided to tour it first thing in the morning. We got some gelato - delicious Italian ice cream - chocolate and something called Doge's cream. Fantastic! We decided to make our way back to the hotel.

We had read John Berendt's City of Falling Angels a few months ago so Kurt wanted to find the Fenice Opera House. It looked easy enough on the map. We wandered and wandered and asked for help and still never found it. We almost walked to the other end of the island. Venice is confusing. The guidebooks said the thing to do is to get lost. Check! We got that accomplished right away.

We managed to find our way to a cafe so Kurt had some cafe au lait and i had a pastry. It was a great way to end our first evening in Venice.

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