Monday, January 24, 2011

Venice and New Friends

Wow. I was a little apprehensive about going to Venice this weekend, and I have no idea why! What a great weekend...

It was a group of eight girlfriends, some with back packs and hiking shoes, others with rolling luggage and high heels! We started the weekend off at the train station in Venice at 6:30 AM. It was actually perfect, because we wandered through the empty streets before the swarm of tourists-- and even locals-- were awake to crowd us. We went to Saint Mark's Square and there were literally two other people there. It was incredible... We got some great pictures!

After exploring for a bit, we went to our hotel to check in. The place was magnificent, right on the beach! After taking a nap on the sand and a shower break, we headed back to Saint Mark's Square again. This time, it was filled with tourists... and pigeons. Which is what most would expect at Saint Mark's. Some of you may remember my fear of birds-- (reference here: so needless to say, I'm glad we were able to see it in the morning, pigeon free.

When a pigeon almost landed on my shoulder, I ran away and somehow made it into Saint Mark's Basilica. There we were able to take a ride up this old elevator and see the tops of every building in Venice, I swear! It was about 5 euros for the ride, but worth every cent.

After that, we decided to continue being cliche, and took a gondola ride. I mean, come on! It's Venice! How could we not? ...Right?

Then we went to the famous Rialto Bridge, crossed it, and made our way to the Jewish ghetto.

At last, we took a water taxi back to the square at night. We even got to see some live bands playing outside for tables at restaurants. It was really delightful!

The next day, we visited the Correr Museum in (surprise, surprise) Saint Mark's Square. The museum ticket also gave us admission to the Doge's Palace. Both were pretty spectacular-- the museum for the art, and the palace for the history. We were able to cross through the Bridge of Sighs where, until about a century or two ago, prisoners would take their last walk from the prison in the palace to the execution site.

After that, we went shopping for about an hour. Then sadly, we took a water taxi back to the train station.

However, we spent some time with a couple of great people on the train ride back! It was a very friendly French Canadian couple that recognized one of my friends, and stopped to thank her for taking a picture of them on the Rialto bridge! We got to talking about the great hiking trails in Quebec (where they live), and we ended up exchanging contact information. Pretty amazing...

All in all, it was another incredible weekend in Italia!