For our few years abroad, creating a travel list was a must. The problem is, the more we travel, the longer the list gets. We cross one place off and hear about three more places to go. For a while, we had planned to save a portion of the list for three-day weekend trips. But let’s face it, there aren’t enough three-day weekends in the calendar year and our time here is passing quickly by. We decided to give up our three-day weekend wishes, and just start going. First up: Venice, Italy.
In total, it’s a six and a half hour train ride from Zurich. I know that sounds long, but train rides aren’t like road trips. Everybody gets to relax and enjoy the ride. No cranky drivers, no traffic, and best of all for me, no navigating. There was some running involved to catch our second train in Milan, but we needed some cardio prior to our weekend carb fest anyways. We arrived around ten on Friday night, and I’m embarrassed to say this..but we thought we would just grab a cab to our hotel. Hah! Neither of us our blonde, but that was a blonde moment. Venice is known for its canals for a reason…their transportation! We technically could have grabbed a water taxi, but that would have cost an arm and a leg. So, we hopped on the water bus and got off at Rialto bridge.
We walked in circles for about an hour to eventually find our hotel situated about a five minute walk from where we originally got off. It’s all part of the adventure, right? (That’s what you keep telling yourself when you are dragging luggage in circles at 11pm when you really just want some gelato).
After we found our hotel, it was time get lost again. We quickly learned that aimlessly wandering is what this city is all about. We got up Saturday morning, ate breakfast, and started walking. We are suckers for knick knacks and boy did we get sucked in. Beautiful stationary stores, Murano glass, antiques, costume masks, leather goods…you name it, we bought it.
After a couple hours of wandering, I was getting hungry. Jon knows that if I say I’m hungry, I need to be fed within the hour. He doesn’t have this same “hangry” problem that I do, but he knows it will quickly become his problem if he doesn’t feed me. We wanted to find this restaurant we saw the night before, but knowing that it might take a while, we got an appetizer on the way. Right near our hotel was a takeaway pasta shop, Alfredo’s, and we knew it must be good judging by the line out the door. The line was moving, so we hopped in.
There were options of five different kinds of pastas, and about ten different variations of sauce/meat/veggie combos. Alfredo asked if we wanted al dente (with a smile like this was the correct choice) or soft (with a stern look hinting that this would be the wrong choice). We wanted to keep Alfredo happy, so we ordered al dente. And Alfredo did not disappoint. We brought our al dente pasta with Arrabiata sauce outside and sat on the steps of a nearby canal. We devoured it and knew this wouldn’t be the last time we stopped there.
Eventually, we found the restaurant we were looking for and it was a good choice as well. Rick Steve’s gave us an insider tip which made a lot of sense but I never thought of it: Don’t go to the restaurants that display their menu in 3+ languages. It’s a tourist trap with high prices and low quality food. We stayed clear of them as best we could and didn’t have a bad meal.
We continued wandering until dusk and we realized it would be a perfect time to take a ride through the canals. We grabbed another pasta appetizer at Alfredo’s, a mini bottle of vino tinto, and we hopped on a gondola.
Beware, the gondolas are ridiculously priced. Eighty Euro for a 30-40 minute ride. Though it’s crazy that it costs so much, it’s an absolute must in my eyes. It was so much fun riding through the canals, strolling along the water, listening to the gondoliers chat with each other and signal their turns. It’s worth it, I swear. I just wish it lasted longer.
We found out from our new friend, Alfredo, that there are only 450 licensed gondoliers at any given time in Venice, and most gondoliers come from a long lineage of gondoliers. Once they get their license, which costs about 80,000 Euro, they buy their own boat and charge what they want. It makes sense why it costs so much! That’s a lot of money to initially invest. We were happy to help him pay back his gondolier loans.
One of our many purchases was a canvas painting of the Venice canals. We are working on our art collection and enjoy buying art from the places we’ve been. The nice thing about canvases is that you can easily pack them and have them stretched onto a wood frame when you get home. No other frame is needed! I can’t say the canvas stretching is cheap, but at least you can buy something and not have to ship it home.
On Sunday morning, we grabbed a prime seat on the water bus and took it as far as we could both ways. There is not much like seeing a city from the water. We had one final Alfredo’s, one final gelato, said farewell to Hotel Da Bruno, and hopped on the train back to Zurich.
Venice, it was short-lived, but we will be back.