“Eat”-talia, part 3, the grand canal-e

Hello, hello.  It’s hard to believe it, but we have made it to the final portion of the Italy blog posts!  We wrapped in the trip in a really pretty and unique city by the name of Venice.  Maybe you’ve heard of it? 🙂

 

Allow me to set the scene.  We departed the train station to the beautiful Grand Canal with all of our stuff and a vague idea of how to get to our hotel.  We got our tickets (BC lost a 2 euro coin through the wood of the dock and into the water – he still talks about it today) and we boarded a water bus.  We took a crowded and bumpy 50-minute ride to our stop, and we got checked in to our hotel.  Ok – let the fun exploring begin!  We had about a 20 minute walk to get to the city center from our hotel, but it was a really nice walk along the water.  We got a good view when we were approaching the city!

Getting close!

Getting close!  Lots of boat traffic.

 

I snapped this quick shot along our way.  I just love the colorful, neighborhood laundry!

I love it.

 

And then we knew we were getting close to the tourist area because the crowds began to get a bit thicker!

Ah yes, the crowds - something Venice is known for...

Ah yes, the crowds – something Venice is known for…

 

We decided to check off the few sights we had planned to visit right away.  First up, Saint Mark’s Square.  This place is probably one of BC’s least favorites…  It is known for having a large amount of pigeons and people are generally feeding/playing with them.  It was an odd sight, even for the less bird-adverse.  The square itself was large and quite nice.  Unfortunately the basilica was undergoing renovations, so we didn’t get the full effect.

You can't see the domes on the basilica...boo.

Scaffolding isn’t quite as pretty.  You can’t see the domes on the basilica…boo.

One continual building on the sides...pretty cool.

One continual building on the sides…pretty cool.

Here's a peak around the corner at the basilica.

Here’s a peak around the corner at the basilica.  Less construction here.

Yeah, there was a lot of this.

Yeah, there was a lot of this.

And this.

And this.

This was about as close as I was getting.

This was about as close as I was getting.  Gross.

 

We walked down to the water by St. Mark’s to get the classic Venice photo…

Gondola.

Gondola.

 

From there, we decided to casually make our way towards the Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge crossing the Grand Canal.  We passed several photo-worthy canals along our way.  I am in love with the small canals of Venice!  They are so charming.  Here’s a photo montage for you…

#1

#1

#2

#2

#3 - with gondolas.

#3 – heavy gondola traffic.

#4 - with gondolas.

#4 – more gondolas.

 

At last, we had arrived at the Rialto.  We went to the center of the bridge to check out the view.

The bridge.

The bridge.

The Grand Canal.

The Grand Canal.

The Grand Canal.

The Grand Canal.

 

 

At this point, we were pretty hungry.  We had done no research on food in Venice, so we just had to settle in somewhere.  We had a pretty standard Italian meal, pastas.  Nothing to extraordinary to note, except that I started with a Bellini, which was delicious!

Mmm, yum.

Mmm, yum.

 

There was a nice sunset on our walk back towards the hotel.  I could get use to this sunset view!

Closing down the gondola shop.

Closing down the gondola shop.

These are the expensive, personal water taxi option.  Pretty boats.

These are the expensive, personal water taxi option. Pretty boats.

Last look for the night.

Last look for the night.

 

The next day, we did a little side trip to the island of Murano.  Murano is known for their glass industry, so we were hoping to see some glass blowing in action!  We wandered around the streets window shopping at all the glass stores.  We determined that we would pick out one keepsake, so the decision of which one was in the back of my mind.  Here are a few shots to give you a feel.

Murano was cute - lots of canals as well.

Murano was cute – lots of canals as well.

Glass sculpture.

Glass sculpture.

Glass woman.

Glass woman.

One of the numerous glass stores.  You weren't suppose to take photos, so this one is a far away shot. :)

One of the numerous glass stores. You weren’t suppose to take photos, so this one is a far away shot. 🙂

Glass ducks.

Glass ducks.

I just liked the colors here.

I just liked the colors here.

 

Then we stumbled upon a shop that was allowing you to watch the glass masters in action!  We watched one guy whip up a tiger figure in about 2 minutes…it was really amazing!  Then we watched from the street as they worked on some other, larger pieces.  It was really unbelievable to see how they do it!

Making something crazy.

Making something crazy.

He just pulls out a horse head and legs...no problem...

He just pulls out a horse head, body and legs from this ball of molten glass…no problem…

 

Don’t worry, we did find a lovely two-tone blue vase to bring home with us.  In all of my excitement over the purchase, I didn’t take a photo!  And that bad boy is wrapped up real securely until we get back to the USofA!

So then it was back aboard the water bus and back to Venice.  We did more strolling around taking in the adorable canals, this time in a less gondola-packed area.

#5

#5

#6

#6

#7

#7

#8

#8

 

Up next was a late lunch.  We settled in at a place that had been highly recommended per a few food blogs I had read, La Cantina.  I saw a couple eating these really bright and colorful salads, so I made that selection for myself as well.  And BC started on what would be the theme of our evening…cicchetti!  Cicchetti is kind of like the tapas of Venice.  They are small bites and it is common to visit multiple places having bites here and there.  He started at La Cantina with three different types of crostini’s.

A nice change from the carb-heavy pizzas and pastas!

A nice change from the carb-heavy pizzas and pastas!  FRESH mozzarella!

Salami & Brie, Prosciutto & Cheese Spread, Ham & Pepper & Wasabi Mustard

Salami & Brie, Prosciutto & Cheese Spread, Ham & Pepper & Wasabi Mustard

 

We made our way back to the Rialto and the nearby market.

Here we are at the Rialto.

Here we are at the Rialto.

Look at all that tasty fruit!

Look at all that tasty fruit!  A nice presentation.

 

We found a nice place called Osteria al Pesador Cicchetteria right by the Rialto that had tons of outside seating.  We thought the time had come to enjoy an Italian cocktail known as the Aperol Spritz and maybe some more cichetti!

With his spritz.

With his spritz.

A salmon crostini and pork meatball.  Yummy!

A salmon crostini and pork meatball. Yummy!

 

The next stop on our tour of cicchetti bars was Cantina Do Mori, the oldest one!  The atmosphere was great – we got our small bites and a glass of wine and found a little corner spot to stand and enjoy.  Unfortunately a very loud and obnoxious group of Americans on the Rick Steve’s recommended cicchetti crawl also stopped by.  We were happy when they moved on.  It was here that we discovered (by complete accident) the Raboso, a wine of the region.  It was a chilled red wine, and it was tasty!

The bar.

The bar.

Enjoying the corner pocket.

Enjoying the carne croquette and spicy meatball.

 

Then we made one more stop, why not?!  This time, we went just down the street to Osteria Alla Ciurma.  Again, the loud party came by.  We did our best to avoid them by heading to the inside corner.  It was here that we sparked up a conversation with a really nice couple from Connecticut.  We ended up chatting with them for over an hour – we always enjoy having a little social interaction on our trips, especially after a solid 8 days together!  Sorry for the lack of photos here…I was distracted!  We had some cheese and bacon croquettes though that were delicious.

Then we called it a night, and took the long stroll back to the hotel.  I took a couple shots along the way.

St. Mark's at night.

St. Mark’s at night.

A few gondolas tied up for the night.

A few gondolas tied up for the night.

 

The next day was our last, an evening departure back to The Netherlands.  You might be saying to yourself at this point, “You went to Venice and didn’t do a gondola ride??”  No, no, no…we had enough time to squeeze it in there.  Bucket List – CHECK!  It was an enjoyable 1/2 hour ride… (although not a cheap activity!)  Our driver took us around, giving us tid bits of history here and there along the way.  I was just impressed with how well he could maneuver through narrow canals and around tight corners.  As usual, the views are always a little different from the water, which was fun.  And we were lucky enough to have another gondola nearby that included a serenade…so we were able to enjoy the music for a little while as well!

 

Approaching the Rialto in our gondola.

Approaching the Rialto in our gondola.

Our gondolier, Andrea.

Our gondolier, Andrea. He kept doing this weird winking look in photos…

Sights along the way.

Sights along the way.

Sights along the way.

Sights along the way. So colorful!

One quick shot by Andrea.

One quick shot by Andrea.

Unfortunately, I could not post our video from the gondola here.  Ask to watch it sometime, if you want!!

 

Overall, Venice was a great stop on our Italian Excursion!  What a pretty and unique city!  We really enjoyed taking in the sights, sounds and flavors of the area.  But all good things must come to an end…we boarded our plane and headed back to the NL, lots of photos, souvenirs and memories in tow.

 

How does one conclude such an incredible trip on the blog?!  I decided a nice recap would suffice and what better way then with a slideshow of the many selfies taken over the 8 days!!  Enjoy! 🙂

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The adventures continue tomorrow with a trip to Budapest, Hungary!!  Much to look forward to in our last month before the big move.  I hope you’ll stick with me through the final stretch – check back soon for more!!

 

Until next time,
-MK-

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