Thursday, July 21, 2016

Adriatic Exploration: Venice

Dan and I are back from exploring the Adriatic coastline. My parents joined us for our annual summer vacation this year. My sister also joined for the last part.

Saturday, June 18
After a long journey, we finally arrived in Venice, a few hours later than planned. [Our flight from SFO was delayed, we missed our connecting flight in Frankfurt, then the next flight to Marco Polo was delayed due to weather. I did yoga at the airport and ate a pretzel.] I saw a corgi when exiting Marco Polo airport, first sighting on the continent! Dan also spotted a rabbit at the airport. We took the Alilaguna boat, arrived at Fondamente Nuove, and found our b&b. We were in Venice!

Venice!

Our host had left a map of restaurant recommendations, and we wandered around looking for a resto, but the lack of addresses and darkness made it challenging. We finally settled on a spot that seemed promising and had a late dinner of eggplant Parmigiano and grilled calamari, then tiramisu for dessert. I also had my first spritz.

Sunday, June 19
We fell asleep right away, but were up quite early. After breakfast, we met up with my parents at their place and saw a beagle!

Morning coffee art

We headed for Piazza San Marco, but when we reached Basilica de San Giovanni, I realized I forgot the tickets for the clock tower tour that afternoon. Oops.

Basilica de San Giovanni
 
So we walked back to b&b, where the owner Mattia pointed out some neighborhoods to check out (he seemed horrified we were going to Piazza San Marco). We took some photos of Ponte Chiodo, the last remaining bridge in Venice without rails.

Ponte Chiodo

Then we walked to the Jewish Ghetto, and spotted another beagle on the way. We had lunch on the terrace at 40 Ladroni...a spritz for me...then scallops, polenta with squid ink, spaghetti with anchovies, and gnocchi with crab for all. The spaghetti was delicious. Tiramisu and semifreddo amaretto for dessert. We made our way toward Piazza San Marco again, stopping at a chocolate shop for samples and to watch the gondoliers. My mother observed there wasn't any singing like when she first visited in 2000. Piazza San Marco was very crowded.

Piazza San Marco

I had reserved tickets for the Torre dell'Orologio tour. We climbed up the clock tower, saw the (former) living quarters, and observed the mechanisms in action. There was a great view of Basilica San Marco from the top. Unfortunately my parents had trouble understanding the tour guide's English.

Torre dell'Orologio
 
Basilica San Marco

Atop Torre dell'Orologio

The moors

Our tour tickets included entrance to the Correr Museum, so we checked out the emperor's apartments and the museum's collection. Then it was time for gelato. According to Eat Venice, Alaska is the best gelateria in Venice, so off we went for an amuse-bouche. I got gianduja (choco hazelnut) and pistachio, yum. Even my parents liked it. We sat by the water and enjoyed the view in the evening light.

Wine jugs

Then we walked to Paradiso Perduto for dinner. We ate a lot of seafood and even yummier spaghetti than lunch, with sparkling wine. I forgot to take pictures. Pretty good first full day, and we walked over 30,000 steps!

Monday, June 20
After breakfast we picked up my parents; unfortunately they had slept very poorly due to jet lag. We walked to the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) for the Secret Itineraries tour, passing the Bridge of Sighs.

Bridge of Sighs

Dan and I enjoyed the tour very much, but unfortunately my mother did not as she could not follow the tour guide. We learned about the history of the palace, saw the prison cells [including Casanova's, and heard the story of his escape], also went up the the attic of the palace. The floor of the secret service room was mesmerizing.

Dan in the secret service room

After the tour Dan and I saw the rest of the palace, but my parents were tired so they went back to their b&b to rest. We saw the armory and many rooms with grand paintings. I particularly like the Venetian glass windows and pink-and-white color scheme. The flooding was surprising. It was also interesting to see cleaning/restoration in progress.

From the armor room

Pink stripes

Lion of Venice

Mysterious

I foolishly didn't bring snacks, and it was past lunchtime. We found the frieze of the woman with a mortar that we learned about during the tour. We saw a beagle, and I followed it into a cafe. We had mediocre pizza around the corner, but the house wine was delicious. And inexpensive. The server said it was Chianti. Delicious.

After lunch we picked up some sweets, then met my parents and went exploring; they felt better after a rest. My mother bought some tiny strawberries from the produce stand, maybe they were wild strawberries. Dan checked out a fabric store on Strada Nova, and I saw two more corgis! One was a cardigan corgi named Watson who likes the ladies, the men not so much. (That's three corgis in Venice for those keeping track.) Also saw a beagle, who Dan said was a repeat sighting from the previous day. We stopped at Grom for my parents to try gelato, but they didn't care for it. I had strawberry and lemon granita, which I shared with Dan. We walked toward Scuola Grande di San Rocco in San Polo, stopping for my mother to peruse the knockoff handbags from various street vendors, despite my discouragement. It was closed when we arrived, so we wandered around Dorsoduro, listened to a street musician, went inside a shop where marbled paper is made, another shop where masks are painted, and finally an antiques dealer where Dan liked a Flemish painting from the 1700s. (It was a bit over our budget.)

Violinist

Dan checks out the mask shop

Dad & Dan

Dan and Carol in Venice

We walked to the Ponte dell'Accademia and admired the view of Santa Maria della Salute in the fading sunlight. There was a camera crew on the bridge filming a gentleman in a gondola. They all clapped and cheered when they got their shot. We couldn't figure out what it was for, maybe an Italian celebrity was in the gondola?

View from Ponte dell' Accademia

We walked to Schiavi, a wine bar to check out the chicetti (tapas), but there were no tables. People were standing at the counter inside the tiny space or sitting along the banks of the canal. We decided to try another resto, and had delicious sardines with onions and pine nuts, grilled veggies, seafood risotto, and spaghetti with clams at Osteria Ai Carmini. The risotto was delicious, but the pasta not as good as the previous night. Tiramisu and caramel panna cotta for dessert. Then we walked to Piazza San Marco to see the cathedral lit up at night, but it wasn't! Also seemed like it was high tide because there were huge pools of water surrounding the drains. Yikes. We walked back to the b&b, getting lost along the way. Another 30,000+ step day! 

Toasting

Moon over Venice

Flooding at Basilica San Marco

Tuesday, June 21
Our last full day in Venice! Very sunny and warm. After picking up my parents, we walked to Piazza San Marco without getting lost...third time a charm. My mother bought some salad mix and grapes at a produce stand along the way. I had reserved skip the line tickets for the basilica, where Dan viewed the mosaics with his binoculars. They were impressive when illuminated, so much glittering gold. I found the depiction of San Marco being smuggled in a barrel of pork fat amusing, and loved the stone tile patterns on the floors. We saw Pala d'Oro, the golden alterpiece encrusted with thousands of jewels; I liked the baubles and Dan liked the saints in cloisonné, but my parents skipped it (2€); they also declined the terrace and museum on the upper level (5€). Dan and I enjoyed the upper level very much, where we could see the mosaics up close, and some tapestries, the bronze horses, and walk along the roof of the basilica, with spectacular views of the Palazzo Ducale and Piazza San Marco. [Also saw a former student in the basilica, whose mother asked if I was her friend, which was pretty exciting for me.]

Gutter

Dan & replica horses at Basilica San Marco

Palazzo Ducale

Panorama view from Basilica San Marco

We had lunch along the canal at Banco Giro, just across the Rialto bridge. It was quite fancy. We had two appetizers: burrata, tomatoes with anchovies, and duck pate, atop beans. Then squid ink pasta, which I thought was delicious, but my mother said tasted raw. (It's a fine line between al dente and raw, I guess.) They also ordered a tagliatelle with asparagus and scallops. Dan ordered salt baked sea bass with eggplant, we all shared tiramisu for dessert. Picked up 24-hour vaporetto passes (20€), then rode the vaporetto along the Grand Canal to San Zaccaria, and looked inside the Hotel Danieli, then transferred vaporetto to Murano.

Grand Canal

Grand Canal

Santa Maria della Salute

My mother and I were not terribly impressed with the island, although Dan enjoyed the little church and seeing the glass. After returning to Venice, we walked to Alaska for more gelato. My father got one scoop of hazelnut, and my mother got a double scoop of hazelnut and gianduja. Then they both got a second scoop of hazelnut, my mother requesting the nut portion, so the gentleman gave her a few extra hazelnuts, which I thought was a nice gesture.

Gelato with dad

Then we crossed the canal and on the way back to our b&b passed a wine bar that was showing the Germany soccer match in the EuroCup; my parents departed and we stayed so Dan could watch the match. The bartender asked where we were from, and called us "San Francisco" during the rest of our stay. He served a platter of prosciutto and cheese, delicious with Prosecco.

We stopped in a Coop grocery store to see the local provisions, and picked up a few items for our journey to Croatia the following day, then admired the canal views at dusk. We saw a female gondolier, and wondered if she was the one Mattia had told us about that morning. No beagle sightings, but two Westies. Also a golden retriever on the vaporetto back from Murano, it was all wet so I think it went swimming. I took photos of our canal view and tried not to scratch my mosquito bites.

Wednesday, June 22
The power was out, so no fancy coffee drinks at breakfast. We left our luggage at the b&b and took the vaporetto (since we had 24-hour passes) to see the "Sistine Chapel" of the artist Tintoretto at Scuola Grande di San Rocco. I especially liked the stone floor tile patterns, again. After the art and relics, we wandered around looking for a pizza resto, stopping in a sweet shop for some hazelnut and almond brittle. Finally we found Refolo Pizza! We sat outside by the canal, and the pizza was better than on Monday, though still not as good as in Rome. I don't think Venice is known for pizza though. We were near Alaska, so we got one last gelato before departing. Then back on the vaporetto to pick up our luggage at the b&b, and then back on the vaporetto to Piazzale Roma bus station to wait for our transfer to Croatia. We were more than an hour early for our pickup time so we waited awhile. Dan was quite anxious. The driver arrived 10 minutes early, and we were off. Arrivederci, Venezia!

1 comment:

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