I actually slept a full night without interruption and it was golden! It was much needed and perfect because we had to get up extra early to leave for Italy. We had breakfast at 5:30am at the hotel and left Reitdorf (the village) at 6am. For anyone counting, I’m pretty sure I’ve now had more hot breakfasts than ‘cold’ ones and that makes me happy. It was cold and rainy when we left, so we were glad to be moving on.
I napped quite a bit on the bus! I think I finally found a decent napping position and I actually stayed asleep for more than 30 min. We stopped for a bathroom break and snacks at 9:30am and I slept through most of that too. After the break, Marlene put on”The Sound of Music” since we didn’t finish it earlier and I definitely stayed up to watch it. Obviously.
We had to take a ferry to our first stop: Isolo di Murano (the Murano islands) to watch a glass blowing demonstration. We arrived to the Ferro & Lazzarni factory around noon and received a live demo and fun facts about murano glass. Apparently, nothing has changed in their process in 1000 years except for the type of stove they use (going from a wood burning one to a gas one). There is also no school to learn the techniques; everything is passed down and it takes 15 years to actually master it. They guy doing the demo made a vase in about 10 minutes and a horse in about 2 minutes. It was seriously impressive. Their shop had all sorts of glass decorations and dishware and while it was fun to look at, it was very expensive so I opted out of actually buying anything. I was tempted though!
After the demonstration, we hopped back onto the ferry for another 15 minute ride into Venice! Marlene wanted to celebrate with us so she bought us all Prosecco to share. The weather was chilly and overcast (not surprising given the weather we’ve had everywhere we’ve been) but we were hoping the actual rain would hold off.
We docked around 1:30pm and headed for our gondola rides, walking through St. Mark’s Square on the way. There was a mix up in the schedule so Justin, Greg, Victoria, Heidi, Cassie, and I went to get our first round of Italian gelato and it definitely did not disappoint!
By 2:30pm it was raining so we boarded our gondola in the rain, sitting on the wet seats, under our umbrellas. It was a disaster but I think it makes for a fun story. We were cold, wet, and couldn’t see much because of the umbrellas but hey, it was an experience we shared and now we can say we’ve been on a gondola in Venice! It was actually pretty fun though, even with the crummy weather and circumstances.
After our ride, we were pretty hungry because most of us hadn’t eaten since the 9:30am snack break (or breakfast) and it was already 3pm. We wanted to get pizza but didn’t know where to go so just stopped at the first indoor place we saw, Ristorante Eden. We all ordered pizza and it was… fine. It was good pizza but honestly, a little disappointing. I don’t think pizza was their specialty. We were pretty excited about it too which probably made the let down more difficult. We’ll try another pizza place in Florence and maybe get a better one!
Our lunch was in St. Mark’s Square where just about everything else we wanted to do was so we headed over to the St. Mark’s Campanile Bell Tower to go to the top and see the entire city. For whatever reason, we thought we’d be climbing stairs to the top like we’d done at other places but this was an elevator-only thing which was unfortunate because we were hoping that climbing up stairs would warm us up! It was still really beautiful up there though. The weather made it difficult to see way into the distance but it was still really breathtaking. It was also much colder and windier up there so we didn’t stay long.
Next up was the St. Mark’s Basilica just across the plaza. It was a beautiful church and unlike any church we’ve seen up to this point as far as the artwork and decorations. The architecture was similar but just about everything else was incredibly unique. The church had several small areas and a museum but we didn’t have much time in Venice so we bypassed those and just toured the main hall.
Last on our list was Doge’s Palace. None of us knew anything about it but we decided to visit it anyways, even though tickets were crazy expensive compared to other museums. In my opinion, it was completely worth it. The palace was GORGEOUS and had some of the most stunning paintings, gold work, and wood work I’ve ever seen. Each room impressed me more than the one before it. Plus, it was nice to be warm and dry for a bit! We found an arch somewhere and Justin and I took a great prom-pose picture… now not only do they call me mom, they call him step-dad. It’s ridiculous but entertaining.
Our museum pass was actually a pass to the palace and 3 other museums in the area but by the time we finished, other museums were closing and we had to meet back up with the rest of the group to head to our hotel. We did have just enough time to sneak in another round of gelato (oops), visit the outside of the Bridge of Sighs (we saw the inside from the palace) and stroll around a few alleys though. I really wanted to try and visit the Santa Maria della Salute across the canal but simply didn’t have enough time!
The weather wasn’t great but we made the best of our short time in Venice. No weather compares to what we had to go through on our first day in Paris though so we really shouldn’t complain. My first impression of the city was not great but I warmed up to it. There were a lot of souvenir carts and street hagglers selling random knick knacks, purses, and (smartly) umbrellas so I think that kind of brought the vibe down. I don’t know if it were the gloomy weather, lack of greenery, the street vendors, the old buildings, or a combination of everything but the city just didn’t feel very pretty or exciting. It wasn’t until we went up into the bell tower and got a view of the whole city when I started to change my mind. As the evening went on and vendors started to leave and the rain kept people away, the city really opened up and I enjoyed it much more. I’d love to go back on a normal day though.
We met up with the group around 7:15pm to take the ferry back to the mainland, to get on our bus, to go check into our hotel in Mastre (a city just outside of Venice). On our way to the hotel we finally finished the last bit of “The Sound of Music” too! We checked into the hotel around 8:15pm and spent the evening playing cards with Justin and Greg. There was a small cafe across the street so we even went and got a slice of pizza later and it was cheaper and better than the pizza in Venice!
Tomorrow we leave for Florence where we get more time than we did in Venice. We bought all of our museum tickets while we were in Munich so hopefully we’ll be able to see and do quite a bit!
I’ll leave you with a fun fact from Marlene: Venice has 430 bridges, Amsterdam has 800, and Hamburg (in Germany) has 2800!