Venice

Submitted by Ben on Sat, 06/06/2009 - 14:10

See an album of our many photos from Venice.

On Thursday morning, June 4, having learned just before bed that we had noplace to stay in Venice after all, we somehow overslept and couldn't agree on a reservation before we left for the train station. The train was delayed in the station for 45 minutes due to an unclosable door, so we sought out some wi-fi, but the cheapest hotel we could find in Venice was 265€ a night -- non-refundable! We didn't know what else to do, but we couldn't quite stomach the price, so we didn't make the reservation.

When we finally got on the train, we found it in bad repair, with squalid toilets and almost no food in the cafe car. I managed to get us one piece of toasted ciabatta, which we shared. Our fellow passenger turned out to be an art historian from the contemporary art museum in Rome. She said the museums in Venice were likely to be more crowded than usual due to special exhibits, and she had lots of suggestions about places we could visit after we left Venice. However, her most valuable suggestion was that we should look for lodging in Mestre or Marghera rather than in Venice itself.

When we arrived in Venice, a reservation clerk in the train station found us a 50€ hostel in Mestre, which we booked for only one night since it was not a private room. We checked our luggage at the train station and took a walk along the canals. At an Internet cafe, Jessie found a hotel with amenities in Mestre for our other two nights. We had lunch and gelato, then reclaimed our luggage and took a train from Venice to Mestre.

Mestre did not make a good impression after Venice: having recently seen Eurotrip, we joked that we'd been dropped in Bratislava! We checked into Albergo Giovannina. There were four single beds in our room, one of which was occupied by Paul from Oakland. We walked to an Indian restaurant, reasoning that we were closer to India than we would be at home! We got a great deal: two entrees, naan, samosas, and drinks for 13€. On the walk back, we were struck by a signaled bike lane intersection and a bank called CheBanca! ("Whatabank!")

On Friday, June 5, I was awoken at 5:30am by something crawling on me. After swatting myself a few times, I opened my eyes to find that I'd made blood spots wherever I swatted. There were winged ants crawling all over the bed! I pulled out the camcorder and recorded a few minutes, then took the evidence downstairs and showed it to the desk clerk. His reply was straight out of Dude, Where's My Car: "And then?" He asked if there was another bed in the room I could sleep in; when I said yes, he told me to move to that bed and come back at 8:00!

We had some weird pastries made from phyllo type dough for breakfast and then moved our luggage to Hotel Kappa, about 15 minutes away by bus. It was a nice three-star hotel, but it had the tiniest shower either of us had ever seen! We could barely fit through the door.

We returned to Venice by bus, then took a vaporetto (water bus) to St. Mark's square via the Giudecca canal. The vaporetto was not crowded, and we had good seats. We watched the pigeons and toured the Basilica, where we found among other remarkable things the best pay toilets we'd found in Italy. We planned to return to the square later to climb the tower; instead we walked to Ponte di Rialto and had lunch in a cafe. We walked back to the bus via San Marco i Friari with its Gothic art and archway. Rain started just as we got to the bus. We had a nap at the hotel before searching out a dinner of pizza and gelato.

On Saturday the 6th, we had breakfast at the hotel buffet and took a bus to Venice. This time we found the vaporetto extremely crowded: the attendant had to push standing passengers out of his way as he crossed from port to starboard and back with each stop, repeating "permesso... permesso..." At the Accademia, we saw Giorgione's Tempest and lots of paintings by Venetians. We had lunch outside the Accademia at high tide and played with the birds. We returned to St. Mark's square refreshed enough to climb the tower but were surprised to find it had an elevator! We crossed the grand canal to Dorsoduro via traghetto, like a gondola, but only half a Euro to cross.

We considered visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Museum to see the exhibit of wooden underwear, but it was too expensive; instead we found wooden underwear available for sale in a shop across the street! Jessie was not feeling well, but after some rest, refreshment, and a meatball she was feeling better. At a candy store we found some soft, cream filled tubes, but much like Cow Tales, they were not as tasty as they looked. We caught a bus back to the hotel for a nap.

For dinner, we went to a place called Alle Magnolia, where we got a seafood platter that was much too large for the two of us. Then we had some of the best gelato of the whole trip: cioccolato noir and a Venetian cream that was like orange vanilla.