Thursday, March 22, 2012

Venice, Italy

Leaving Milan and the first half of the trip--
Bright and early this morning we had to get up and walk to the train station so that Kim could catch the shuttle to the airport. We made it there with little effort, but it was a quiet walk because we were both sad that she had to leave already. Although there was a part of me that was ready to leave too, I couldn’t. I still had 10days left of my trip and there was no home in the near future for me. We made it to the shuttle and bought her ticket with little issue, gave each other a big hug and parted ways before we both started crying. I didn’t think that it was going to be so hard to part ways with Kim, but when you come to rely on someone that you travel with the way KIm and I do, it is very hard to part with that person. Our trip was over. 16 days and it was over. We have so many memories and saw so many amazing things while overcoming some tough times and mental breakdowns, but we had done it again and we were already thinking about what was next. 
Grand Canal
It’s very rare that you find someone that you can travel with for such a long period of time. It takes a special bond to be able to be away from home in a place so unfamiliar that you are out of your element, yet you find a way to survive and thrive in this new place. It’s even harder to find someone else that you mesh with that can do the same thing. Someone who compliments you to the point that where your deficiencies take hold, their efficiencies step up and fill the void and vice versa. Kim and I have that bond. Despite our disagreements and little issues that are inevitable, we are always on the same page and we have many of the same dreams, as far as traveling are concerned.
Rialto Bridge 
Around 930am, I was sitting at McDonalds finishing a journal entry and waiting for Ida. I was hoping with everything in me that she would follow the directions that I had given her and would be able to find me with little trouble. Just when I was beginning to get nervous, I saw her walking towards me and felt very relieved. We first decided to grab some cash, but we had to find a bank...and then get something to eat for breakfast. We had croissants and coffee and then walked around a bit. We had some time to kill before our train left, but Milan is too big to try to do some sightseeing with our suitcases. It just wasn’t going to happen. We decided to walk a bit more, go the train station to get our ticket validated and then just wait it out.

Heading to Venice--
Gondola Ride
Smaller Canal
Our train for Venice took off on time and we easily found our seats and had little issue with our luggage. The only problem that we encountered was how hot it was on the train. I couldn’t figure out why the air conditioner wasn’t on, as all of the other trains that I had been on were freezing cold! Shortly after checking our tickets, the train usher told us that the air conditioner was broken in many of the cars and that we were invited to move to car 9, but there was no guarantee of empty seats. After taking a walk back there and seeing the cluster fuck that had ensued, we decided to sweat it out in our current car. There was really nothing that would help and the air wasn’t really working in any of the cars. Not to mention, the cars that had been cooler were no so packed with people that it wasn’t worth the time. We stayed in our seats, almost everyone else had left the car, so it was the best that we could hope for.
When we arrived in Venice, I was happy to find that the train took us all of the way to the island...that was one worry out of the way. We made our way onto the Vaparetto and took it to the Rialto Bridge area, which was supposedly near our hotel. After messing around for about an hour, we finally found the hotel down a dark alley. It wasn’t what we expected, a small apartment in another location with a shared bathroom. The only positive was that it was clean and centrally located. We decided to get settled and cleaned up, then walk around a bit and grab a nice dinner. I didn’t realize at the time that nice dinner meant 100Euro. OUCH! That hurt. Half of my money was already gone between the vaparetto pass and dinner...It just cost so much because we were sitting right next to the Grand Canal staring at the Rialto Bridge...
Bridge of Sighs
St. Mark's Square
We got up pretty early the next morning so that we could get out and do our tourist thing. We grabbed breakfast at the hotel and went to the vaparetto to take us down the canal to St. Mark’s Square. Along the way we stopped for a Gondola ride...60 Euro and 10  minutes later it was over and I wanted to punch our “driver”. He didn’t give us any information, he just yelled at the other boats, and I’m sorry, but it wasn’t worth 6 Euro/minute. Not in a million. But it was an experience...just look for a gondola ride that will last longer than 10 minutes when you go!
We then headed to St. Mark’s. This was the huge tourist area and I knew it would be a cluster, but Ida hadn’t seen any of this before.  When we arrived we took some pictures and got in line for the Cathedral. The line moved fairly quickly, but you weren’t allowed to take bags or anything in and that made it a pain in the ass to try to see anything. We finally made it inside, which was okay Nothing that the other 1000 churches I have seen in my life weren’t, so I headed out to grab my bag quickly. Ida stayed behind and looked some more and met me outside about 30 minutes later. We then decided to check out the Doges Palace, which I hadn’t toured before and was interested in. 
Beer at Orange
Piazza San Margherita
We took a few more pictures and headed back to the hotel to relax a bit. The sun was hot and people everywhere were getting a bit much. We grabbed a slice of pizza and decided that we would eat light later and then hit up a bar. We did have dinner at a small cafe by the hotel and then we went to Campo San Margherita, where we sat at bar Orange. It was the same bar that Jen and I had been at 3 years ago. There was a lot going on in the square, so we had a few beers, enjoyed the locals, and headed back to the hotel around midnight.
Venice is a place that you either love or hate. I love Venice...the energy, the people, the water everywhere. It’s so amazing how people basically built everything on water and travel everywhere by boat. It’s a very confusing place to try to navigate because there are small alleys everywhere and some of them dead end in small canals. Walking around at night is especially creepy because you almost don’t know where you are going. Knowing your sights and walking by visual cues is the best advice that I can give. 

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