We had about a week of free time separate from the group and some of us decided to go to Venice and Rome for it. I stayed with four other guys in a rented apartment in the city and there was another apartment of us with four people in it. We flew in from Toulouse on Monday night and took a boat from the airport into the city and then the guy we were renting from came and got us and took us to the apartment. The city felt very dark compared to other cities, there just weren’t super lit up buildings all over the place. Most of the streets were narrow enough to only fit maybe one car (but of course there were no cars because of the canals and all). After we checked in and put our stuff down we walked around a bit and met the others for a quick dinner from a takeaway pizza place. Just wandering around was very cool; we’d be trying to walk down a street to get somewhere and we’d just run into a canal that we couldn’t cross and would have to turn around. According to our tour guide from Tuesday Venice has over 400 bridges spanning all the canals. We ran into Saint Mark’s Basillica which is in what seemed to be the main square of at least that area of town. It’s where we always ended up meeting before or after we did something.
Tuesday we just wandered the city a little bit in the morning on our way to breakfast and ran into this church which is called the Chiesa di San Zaccaria. There was a courtyard beside it that we went into because it was unlocked and then there was a door into a building that was open and said come on in, and it turned out to be an art exhibit that we saw for about a minute before a guy came down from upstairs and said that it was closed. They should probably work on their signs.
After breakfast we walked around some more on the edge of the islands looking at the gift shops and things.
This is called the Palazzo Ducale; it’s not really important just a government building or something but we walked by it.
We went to Piazza San Marco to look around and some of our group went up in this tower to see everything from above, but three of us didn’t want to pay for it so we just walked around some more and looked in some of the glass shops. Venice is famous for its glass blowing and there were shops for it all over the place.
Then we met back up with the others to go to a glass blowing exhibition that was included when we bought our city tour that was later that day. We saw how the guy heated up the glass in whatever that thing was that was super duper hot and then he’d take it out and spin it around and maybe shape it a little with his tool and then blow through the tube some and it’d expand and it was just very cool.
The glass blowing thing ended in a very fancy glass store where we couldn’t afford a whole lot but it was all very cool to see. After that we went to lunch and I had some gnocchi which I’d never had before and it was really weird but pretty good. It’s supposed to be pasta but I think it’s made of potatoes and it feels like tiny dumplings. Then we walked around the city some more just exploring. Saw one gondola go by that had a musician on it, so that was cool.
We went back to piazza San Marco to meet for our tour, and the lady who guided us took us to most of the lesser known attractions that were still just as cool. I don’t know what most of them were called though… But after the tour we also had a gondola ride that was part of it!
They just took us around for about an hour, and it was very nice. Near the end there was a dog in another gondola that was really cute and I was closest so I could each out and pet it but it turned out to be a guard dog haha. Not very nice.
Then we had dinner at this pizza place and our group split up so six of us went to to this bridge which is called the Ponte Di Rialto. It goes over the grand canal and is one of the symbols of Venice. While we were there one of us recognized a tshirt that someone in the crowd was wearing as a sports shirt from her high school. It turned out that this couple was from her hometown in Mississippi and the woman actually ran with my friend’s dad in the mornings. It was so weird that we just ran into them there.
We crossed the bridge and we had the goal of getting to the Santa Maria Basilica but it was a very long walk and we kept going down dead ends so it took us like two hours to get to the bridge where we crossed back over the grand canal. It was a lot of fun though; our tour guide told us that the best thing to do in Venice is get lost, and I would agree. We just saw a bunch of different random Venice places and it was a great time.
We crossed back over and then walked to our apartment and the people in the other apartment came with us and we just hanged out for a little while before they went back to theirs and we went to bed.
The next morning we got up and packed everything up and checked out and then walked towards the train station. We knew it was like an hour and a half to walk there and we’d have all our luggage but we figured we’d stop to eat lunch or something in the middle. So we did and after we’d been sitting at this little cafe for five minutes the other group of us walked up. We hadn’t planned on getting together until the train station so it was funny that they’d just happened upon us. We all ate together and the waitress was a little weird in that she would just constantly offer us cappuccinos. Like she’d come around taking orders and before we even said anything she’d offer a cappuccino at reduced price just for us. It became a joke that we’d bring up through the rest of the trip.
We got to the train station like an hour and a half early and explored the area over there just a little bit and got gelato and then we got on the train headed for Rome!