Most of today was spent on the coach bus napping, writing in my journal and playing games. We stopped at a “servo” (hehe) and I tried my first slice of Italian Margherita pizza. It was really good and less than 4 Euros.
We checked in to the hotel just outside of Venice. It was okay. Alex mentioned ahead of time that we would likely notice that Italian hotels weren’t nearly as up to date as most of the rest of the Western world. This proved to be true. I mean, nothing was gross, scary or creepy (unlike the Jail hotel), but everything was super dated, basic and the showers were absolutely minuscule, and I am a relatively small person! Anyway, I’m not complaining, but just know that if you go to Italy and stay in a budget friendly hotel, nothing is going to be special.
We had dinner at the hotel and it included a nice, fresh garden salad, rigatoni with tomato sauce and pancetta, and a fruit salad.
We stayed on the mainland in a bit of an industrial area. We were looking forward to actually seeing the city in the morning, but we wanted something to do so we (the Canadians) went for a walk to the town square. Part of the walk was really sketchy and I was actually legitimately afraid walking through some alleys/streets (HI MOM, I MADE IT BACK ALIVE!) but when we finally found the town square, it was actually pretty nice. Most of the shops were closed, but we did find a gelato place! I got lemon gelato and the lady working there gave us free hats haha! We went back to the hotel and hung out for a while, but had a bit of an early night in preparation for our upcoming long day in Venice.
We took a boat in to the islands of Venice in the morning. It was a really beautiful and sunny day. First, we had about an hour of free time so we walked around the streets near the Piazza San Marco and took pictures of the buildings, on the bridges and of the gondolas. We also got gelato at 10 am… of course! I got dolce latte and it was really good.
Then we went on a walking tour and saw and learned about the Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Palace, the bell tower, the Rialto Bridge, the main Opera theatre, and learned about Venice’s history, the tides and their flooding problem.
After that, we went to have lunch at a restaurant called Marciana that Alex recommended and said it was his favourite restaurant in Venice. We sat outside under the canopy and shared a large bottle of white wine and most of us got pizzas. I got a margherita pizza and it was delicious. Then, Alex surprised us by buying us another bottle of white wine! The waiters all knew him and they brought out shots of limoncello. It was pretty good, but also kind of sickly sweet. There were SO many souvenir shops and the prices were good, so we wanted to do some shopping. I got a Murano glass beaded bracelet for myself and for Alison (my younger sister), and then wine stoppers for me and Mom. I also got a nice print of the Rialto bridge, keeping with my art souvenir tradition.
Alex told us how Venice is known for its lace, and he suggested we buy a garter for souvenirs… (when I wrote this in April, I was super single, but as I type this now, I have a boyfriend. Alex, (boyfriend, not tour manager!) if you’re reading this, don’t freak out!) I thought this was a super cool and unique souvenir idea, so I went ahead and bought a garter from a lace shop. The lace is handmade in Venice and has some beading on it and it’s very pretty. Kind of weird, but I’m really glad I bought it.
After walking around and shopping for a few hours, we went back to Marciana with Alex and got bellinis, another Venetian special. SOOOO delicious and fresh tasting. Bellinis are a cocktail made with peaches and prosecco. Definitely a new favourite for sure. Then it was time for our gondola ride. I was with Lauren, Kelsie, Jacinda, Andy and Cole. It was really fun and nice to see Venice from the canals. Venice is so beautiful, colourful, and feels magical. It looks just like in the movies. Our gondolier thought we were Australian and pulled the whole “AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE!” and us six Canadians recited back the most pathetic “Oi Oi Oi” ever in response. It was funny. Then he started playing jokes on us. He started stamping his feet and pulled out a stuffed rat! I screamed so loudly, I am TERRIFIED of rodents, and the split second of thinking one was in our confined gondola just about gave me a heart attack. He also told us to “lean over and look at the fish.” In doing so, we the tipped the gondola over pretty far. It was all in good fun.
After the gondola rides, we went for our Venetian dinner. There was SO much food and wine. We had bread, meats, veggies, fried seafood scampi, pesto linguini, risotto, gnocchi, carbonara, and gelato for dessert. It was delicious, but I was stuffed.
After that, we headed back to where the hotel was and stopped at some bar. It was kind of boring, we were at one huge table and it was difficult to socialize. I was pretty tired, but Jacinda and I split a bottle of prosecco. Then we walked back to the hotel and went to bed. Venice was definitely one of my favourite places on the tour. I felt like I was in a fairytale, and you could feel the magic in the air. Definitely a place I plan to return.