Wednesday morning was just like every other morning we had seen in Italy – bright and sunny! It was so relaxing to wake up naturally to sunshine pouring in through the shutters:
I had a quick shower, and then Ian and I quickly checked last minute hotel deals in Venice. We probably should have been way more organized. We knew it was pricey to stay on the island, so we had anticipated having to find somewhere to stay in Mestre (mainland Venice), and get the train in during the day. However, we lucked out, and found a hotel that had reduced its prices as they weren’t fully booked, and ended booking a room in a hotel along the Grand Canal!
Releived that we had accomodatin sorted out, I headed along the road to Rina’s to see her before Franco and Myrna picked us up. Luckily, I finally got my view of the Alps as it was clear:
I rang the buzzer. No answer. I knocked. No answer. I phoned her. No answer. I decided to have breakfast with Ian before trying again, but when we went to the breakfast room, there was Rina, sitting with Maria, waiting for us. She had some old pictures I had drawn from when she visited us in the US, which were fun to look through, and some photographs to look at as well. After breakfast, Myrna arrived, and after a teary goodbye (I even saw Ian wiping his eyes), we were being driven to the train station in Udine, stopping, of course, for gelato.
The train ride went by fairly quickly, and Ian and I were definitely glued to the window at times. In fact before we knew it we were leaving Venezia Mestre and starting across the bridge to Venice!
Once we’d left the station, we could see our hotel across the bridge, which made things easy. We checked in and took a few moments to scrutinize the map that we were handed at reception. We decided that we would head to Piazza San Marco to check out the big tourist attractions.
The first thing we checked out was Saint Mark’s Basilica. Entry was free, but you had to pay seperately to see some of the things inside. One of these things was the ‘treasure room’ which seemed to consist of lots of pieces of the human body (bones, a freaking hand) which I assumed belonged to some important people. It was a little morbid, but there were also some pretty impressive gold candlesticks, chalices, and the like. The inside of the church was impressive enough: ornate domed cielings, marble floors, tons of gold. Photography was ‘prohibited’ (it didn’t seem to be stopping many people, but we were good), but you can get an idea for how OTT the decor was from the ‘modest’ ceiling outside:
After the basilica, we nipped across to the Campanile di San Marco, a huge old bell tower that apparently collapsed in the early 20th century (after lasting for, like, a thousand years). The queue moved pretty slowly, although it wasn’t that long, and we soon discovered that the reason for this was that the only way to access the top was via an elevator. No stair option. Here’s Ian waiting patiently in the queue, with the Basilica off to the right:
It was quite windy (and chilly) up in the bell tower, so we soon joined the queue for the elevator down. We wandered down some of the Calles off of the square, before deciding that we would treat ourself to a tourist-price beer at one of the tables looking out onto the Piazza. Two beers came to just over 20 euros, but they were worth it. We even asked the waiter for a photo:
We had spent some time on the way towards the square looking in some of the shops, particular at the Venetian masks and the Murano glass. We decided to head back to the hotel to clean up and have a rest before setting out to find somewhere for dinner, stopping only to buy a bracelet for me, and some more gelato. I cannot stress enough how much I love gelato.
The receptionist suggested a couple of places to eat once we got back, and after a pit stop, we set off to find the first one. It was quite near the Rialto, so it was easy enough to navigate to, bu unfortunately it was closed. We decided to make our way to his other suggestion, keeping an eye out for anything that looked good (it was starting to get late), but the only things we found were tourist traps offering overpriced pizza, so we kept walking. And walking. And realized that we were a bit lost.
After a couple of light arguments, Ian and I eventually found our way, and had a good pasta dish each (though I maintain that our waiter was rude), and a couple of beers, before heading back to the hotel to enjoy a nightcap along the canal: