As our train crossed from the mainland over the bridge to Venice, we caught glimpses of the city through rivulets of water.
Our train arrived on time, to the minute. They could give Japan a run for their money. I had read about transportation employee strikes, but my fears of delays or needing to rent a car were put to rest. We had located our hotel on a map beforehand, and being that it was just opposite the train station across the Grand Canal, we had no trouble finding it. Also, I have about 400 pictures of Julien's back. The kid is built for speed and waits for no man.
Our hotel, Antiche Figure, is the building just to the right of the green dome.
Here's the view looking back towards the train station from our first room.
We were operating on about 5 hours of sleep, and had been up since 1 AM. If we paused for a minute in our room, we were sure to pass out and miss our first half day in Venice. Instead, we bummed a hotel umbrella and hit the streets as our alter egos, Groggy & Grumpy.
Rain or no, the narrow streets were packed with people. We turned down empty streets and alleys until we escaped the crowds. We popped out into a quiet residential/prison part of town. There's a joke in there somewhere.
The doorbells and mailboxes had character.
We wandered aimlessly, once again in a fog of fatigue, but nonetheless grinning like drunken fools at the beauty of the place. I've seen countless photos and several movies with scenes in Venice, but I can't think of one that captured what it felt like in person. My phone pics don't stand a chance. In fact, I was a little disheartened trying to take blog worthy photos, and considered stopping altogether so I could focus more on being present in the moment. Screw that, here's some more phone pics!
Julien loved the Venetian Carnival masks on display in shops throughout the city. Each shop had it's own style, but the first one to draw me in was Ca'Macana. They had a display in the window highlighting their work for Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. Their shop is located on a small side street, away from the hustle and bustle. We would be back.
Unfortunately, Venice has a few things in common with it's younger California namesake, or any city for that matter, in that there's graffiti everywhere. Thankfully some of it is pretty good, if you're into that sort of thing, and I am.
Speaking of Stanley Kubrick, I was beginning to feel like Alex DeLarge after a therapy session. We were famished, so we went into the first pizza place we saw (mistake) in Campo Santa Margherita square. You can definitely afford to be picky about your pizza in Italy, it's available everywhere. Super thin, and light, a slice doesn't leave you in a food coma. There were pizza places in Rome that cooked it up on big cookie sheets, and cut it off in squares. I saw customers indicating more/less (più/meno) and the piece was sold be weight. In Venice, it was all about the thin round pizza with toppings like prosciutto, sausage and onions, mozzarella & basil, sardines, and black olives. Some restaurants had huge pizza menus with a crazy list of toppings and honestly I'd take a bad slice of Italian pizza over any chain restaurant back home. Pizza. ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Mention pizza 7 or more times in a paragraph starting with a Kubrick reference.
We sat down nearby and Julien showed off his bird handling skills.
After all the rabies jokes, Julien wanted me to try feeding the birds, that way we'd go out together. I refused, so he was sure to wipe his hands all over me.
Fueled up, we made our way back towards home base, but it was still too early to give in to sleep. The Calatrava bridge was in view from our hotel so we went to take a closer look at the beautiful, but controversial piece of modern architecture.
The bridge spanned the ground transportation hubs in the city. One the one side, the city buses, and the other the train station. On the bus side, there was a people mover. We didn't know where it led, but we were looking for cheap thrills to get us off our feet. For a couple of euro we rode over the water to a modernized part of the city where the cruise ships docked and the tour busses parked.
It wasn't all modern.
Seriously wiped out, but not wanting to retrace our steps, we bought tickets for the vaporetto (waterbus), and headed towards Piazza S. Marco by way of the open water.
A near miss.
We got off at the end of the line, and were bowled over to realize that after hours of wandering and zig zagging through narrow streets, we had barely scratched the surface of Venice. We were done for, so we whipped out the phone and plotted a course home by the most direct route we could manage. We went down many a dead end, and had to double back a few times, but we got back to the hotel by sunset and collapsed.
Thus ended another marathon 20 hour day. Night, night.