Like I said previously, J and I's trip to Italy was absolutely fantastic. Finally we've managed to sort through the 2,200+ images and pick ones we want to share with our families and friends. It is even harder to choose pictures to share here because I don't want to go overkill with them, but I also don't want to leave things out. Hopefully I've managed to accomplish this.
We arrived in Venice midday and were both exhausted having not slept at all on the flight. I thought that the dramamine would've made me fall asleep (it usually does) but I was wide awake the entire flight. We took a waterbus to the Piazza San Marco and lugged our suitcases through the square and to our hotel (only 2 streets over!). The streets were fantastic, basically the size of an alleyway, but in a city that doesn't use motor vehicles and has so many waterways, big streets don't really make sense.
The rest of the day we wandered the Piazza San Marco and the streets around it. We found ourselves right next to the Rialto Bridge! We both starting hitting a wall so we went to eat and at first we thought that we would be in and out (because our server was going pretty quickly, the opposite I've been told about any Italian restaurant), but when it came time for the check our waiter disappeared and it took us nearly an hour to get our check. We got back to the hotel and tried to stay up but both passed out. I managed to sleep and get myself on Italy time, but J unfortunately woke up at 2 and was wide awake for the rest of the morning with nothing but Italian TV to watch.
The next day J and I didn't really make a plan for what we wanted to do other than we glanced at a list of places that J's aunt and uncle gave us of places they went when they visited Italy. In the Piazza San Marco we could not go into San Marco because backpacks were not allowed and J had his with him, but we were able to go up into the Companile, or the bell tower in the piazza for a terrific view. We wandered to the waterfront and opted not to go to the Naval museum. We found a grocery store and bought ourselves a makeshift lunch of an assortment of meats and bread. Down near the waterfront we sat on a ledge and just enjoyed how peaceful the entire city was.
The rest of the afternoon we spent getting happily lost among the side streets and coming across piazzas. We made our way to the Arsenale which is basically Venice's military base. It was an interesting building but definitely not my favorite. Onward we went with just a general idea of what direction we wanted to go to. Found a few interesting shops in the quietest corners, like a mask-making shop where you could watch them work in the window front, a Murano glass store (Murano is a small island next to Venice known for its blown glass), and a pet store!
We were pretty close to the Ospedale SS Giovanni e Paolo (Venice's hospital). What a beautiful building. The detail on the outside of the building was just incredible. Definitely my second favorite building (first being San Marco). The two of us were running on empty at this point so we made our way back to the hotel to take a quick breather and then headed out again. We wandered the streets filled with shops until they closed (around 7). Unfortunately for me we found a yarn shop(!) called Lellabella after it had already closed and I knew that we'd be gone before it opened the next day.
Dinner was at a restaurant near our hotel and now I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture, but the ceiling was covered in milk and cream pitchers. It was awesome! Unfortunately this was not our most successful dinner experience. I managed to get us water and my food (which was small but awesome) in Italian, but J ordered his own food. He wanted Spaghetti in bolognese sauce, but what he got was polenta with cuttlefish in ink sauce. I know I know....not even close to what he ordered, but we were both caught off guard, we didn't know what to say (and have them understand what we were saying). The food was black as night, but tasted like meat sauce (yes I tried it!). It was not, however, spaghetti with bolognese sauce and thus J was not happy with his dish (do you blame him?). To make up for the odd meal we headed out for gelato and ended up not only near the Rialto again, but near a chocolate shop where we each got something tasty to munch on back in the room instead of ice cream and some vino.
Back in the room we ate chocolate and drank the wine and it was the perfect way to end our first full day in Italy. The next day we were up early and on a waterbus before most of Venice was up. Waiting for our train at the station we decided we needed to make a better plan for what we wanted to see in Florence and Rome so that we would see more of each city than we did in Venice. When our train pulled into the station and we hopped on, we were excited for what awaited us in Florence.