So our first night in Italy, Kali and I stayed at a hostel on mainland Venice because our train got in so late and Lauren and Allison stayed at a hotel in Venice and we were to meet up the next morning.
The hostel Kali and I stayed at was by far the worst of the trip. The guy running it clearly didn't know how many people he had in the hostel because he tried to put us in a 4 person room that already had 3 people in it (we then got our own room, which was good), there was really sketchy WiFi which was bad because Kali was having problems with people in Miami signing her up for classes (all is well though), and the guy at the front desk just kinda left...
You better believe we locked our door that night.
Anyway, after getting the heck out of there as early as we could the next morning, we found a cafe with wireless to figure out Kali's classes and email my amazing mom who ended up signing me up for classes (I have the most awesome schedule next semester) we headed on over to Venice.
This is the bridge right outside the train station.
Soon we found our hotel, which was really cute and quiet and met up with Lauren and Allison. Then, armed with a map, we set out to find Plaza de San Marco.This was a lot harder the we thought it would be. Venice is so twisty and there are SO MANY hidden canals and alleys that aren't on the map that the map itself was not helpful. What was helpful were signs posted around with arrows pointing you in the right direction. Plaza de San Marco was our starting point to getting everywhere else during our stay in Venice, I don't think we ever made it from our hotel to there in less then 40 minutes.
But it was all part of the adventure. From this we learned a)do not follow signs people have spray painted on the walls and b)when in doubt, go where people are coming from, that way you know it leads somewhere and not a dead end.
Me and a canal.
There were so many fancy fancy masks in Venice! I got a little cute one that I actually ended up bargaining for and getting 2 Euros taken off the price!
Finally to the Plaza. This is the Basilica de San Marco and the inside is completely covered in Mosaics! So pretty.Once we were at the Plaza, we asked a guy who spoke English to take our picture. He then asked if we were American and we answered yes because clearly this guy was a tourist as well (he had his family with him, a camera around his neck and a fanny pack) and he turns to his kids and say "Look! Americans!" They then turned around to stare at us and then one kids goes "They look English, but their voices are American!!!!!!" I wasn't aware Americans were so fascinating, but it was like being in a fishbowl or a petting zoo or something (minus the petting, just a regular zoo I guess then).
OK, who has seen V for Vendetta? This shop has a V chillin in the corner. It kinda creeped me out as much as I thought it was awesome.
After the Basilica we jumped on the public transit water taxis they have (no bikes or cars allowed in here!) and went to the island of Morado, which is known for making glass.
We got to see these guys finish the last pieces of the day, it was really neat.
Glass flowers in the window box. This entire island was devoted to glass and there was pretty glass things everywhere!
a big blue glass spiky thing...
One back in Venice, we explored the Jewish ghetto (where we found the creepiest alleyway I have ever seen, shown above) and found dinner.
That night we decided to go back to the Plaza to see what Rick Steves called the "battling orchestras" this was a lie, there was a 5 person band playing outside one of the restaurants. Still, it was nice and thanks to getting lost took up about 3 hours of our time, which was just perfect to then go to bed when we got back.
Above is Lauren and Allison. Lauren was CONVINCED that we should follow the map on our way back and here is trying to map out our return route.
The next day we went on a gondola ride!
Our gondola dude was very nice. And by playing the field with the gondola guys we got them to drive the price down from RIDICULOUS to what the standard rate was which we had looked online for the night before.
Ca' d' Oro
Anyone seen the movie The Tourist? There is a scene where Johhny Depp is being chased across the rooftops in Venice. He gets trapped on the balcony of this building and jumps off while there is the market going on in the white tents next to it and knock a policeman into the canal. We found this place when we were wandering around the day before and I was excited, but this is a better picture where you can actually see it from the Ca' d' Oro across the canal.
The rest of that day we went to a museum called the Accademia. It was culture week while we were in Italy, so a lot of things, including this museum, the ones we went to in Florence, and the Coliseum were free. Altogether we saved 40-50 Euros!