…continued from Part I.
Since we’re such high rollers, we plunked down EUR € 3 extra for first class train tickets to Venice. When we got on board though, we quickly realized that just because you’re holding a ticket does not necessarily imply that you get a seat. We checked every cabin in the first class car and when we were completely out of luck, ended up standing with all the suckas crowded together near the bathroom (hey, at least it was the first class bathroom!!). The highlight here was the two American bozos who were complaining to the conductor about how, “Someone must be in our seats because we bought first class tickets and every single spot is taken up.” To which he replied in broken English, “Ehhhhh, first-a come-a, first-a served-a (Americani stupidi)…”. People began deboarding about 1/2 way to Venice though, so we were eventually able to find two adjacent seats that let us kick it while watching Italy whip by. An hour or so later we arrived at the Venice train station where we said, “ciao!” to conventional modes of transportation for the next few days.
Just outside the train station we crammed in to the water shuttle which took us straight down the Grand Canal. This being my first real firsthand look at Venice, I was dumbfounded. The walkways and waterways were teeming with life and the buildings appeared to have sprung up straight out of the water. There were tons of tourists taking their EUR € 75 Gondola rides, but there were just as many locals going back and forth in working boats and taxis. At the end of the Grand Canal, we jumped off with our wheeled luggage in tow and joined the fray. 2 canal bridges and a few side alley ways later and we were at our hotel, The Westin Europa & Regina.
Today was our two year anniversary and we wanted to get out and soak up some of Venice. We cruised thorough St. Mark’s square where we watched hundreds of stupid tourists getting their picture taken with pigeons all over them. This is supposedly an illegal practice, yet there are two licenced bird seed vendors smack dab in the middle of the square! Then through St. Mark’s Basilica, which was really amazing, but packed to the gills with tourists. Then out past the Doge’s Palace to the water where we walked by the Bridge of Sighs, which was covered in tourists. I think So! could tell that I was growing tired of the touristy masses, so she pointed us in to the city via one of the mostly deserted alley ways. This was much more my speed. Cool shops, good restaurants, locals hanging out… I started to relax and really enjoy Venice.
Now that we were in our groove, we had some stuff to take care of. First stop, the jewelry store. I promised So! a ring a while back, and because her family used to spend so much time here, she knew exactly from where she wanted to get it. The guy in the shop was really cool and ended up giving us a good deal. So! walked out sportin’ a sweet new ring and was all smiles all nite long.
Feelin’ good, feelin’ great, we moseyed over to Harry’s Bar for some drinks. Sonia had one of their famous Bellini’s (they made this drink up), and I had a Martini. Definitely overrun with tourists, but we got there early enough and the place was small enough that it was still cool to check out.
It was getting to be time for dinner, so we headed back into the deeper parts of the city and found a great restaurant. They were pretty booked up, but So! busted out some Italian and the dude hooked us up. After a few drinks at a really killer wine bar around the corner, we had a table right in the front window. This turned out to be a perfect spot because it was quiet enough where we could talk, but was also busy enough where we could still be in with all the activity inside and out of the restaurant. Some good wine and good food and we were on our way back through the labyrinth that is Venice to our hotel.
Tomorrow we head to Murano…