Veni, Vidi, Vici, Venice

Megan and I arrived back in Bologna on Sunday night. My parents picked us up at the train station and took us out for our first truly good Italian meal. The next morning my mom dropped us back at the train station and we rode a couple of hours to Venice. Upon arrival, we spent the last of our euros on water taxi tickets and then went to an ATM to withdraw more money. To my chagrin, my ATM card was declined and I was instructed to contact my bank. This is not the first time that Bank of America has proved to be my nemesis. Aside from their inability to get me a credit card for 4 months after I lost it in Panama, they cut me off in Tahiti claiming that my account had been flagged for irregular spending. When I finally was able to get a hold of them, I was scolded for not informing the bank that I would be traveling outside of the U.S. At this point, I had been abroad for nearly two years without returning to the States. In Venice, I suffered for failing to learn my lesson and I was forced to contact my dad, who gamely called up the bank and I was liquid again after only a few hours.


Our first adventure in Venice was finding our bed and breakfast. The quixotic journey began by taking the wrong water taxi and ending up in the seedy side of Venice near the ferry terminal. Standing in the cold as the sun set, we waited for a boat to take us back to the train station. Eventually, we found a water taxi headed in the right direction and reached our desired station. At this point, we relied entirely on the directions provided by the B&B. Following the instructions contained in an e-mail on my Blackberry, we wove through narrow alleys and over little bridges. The directions included vague guidance like “Follow this street until you’ll see a window with books in the corner.” The landmarks cited seemed inexact and prone to confusion – the window containing books was later boarded up. Meandering through the dark walkways, the twists and turns felt like a scavenger hunt. To our surprise, we actually found the bed and breakfast and were buzzed in by the proprietor.


With my credit cards once again active, we ventured out in search of dinner. In the cold off-season, the neighborhood around our bed and breakfast was quiet with many of the restaurants closed. We settled on a small pizzeria, where we splurged on salad, wine, and dessert. Although it was delicious, thanks to the exorbitant prices in Venice and the God-awful exchange rate, the total cost for this meal came to $105. Not surprisingly, we tended to limit ourselves to the free breakfast that came with our stays at the B&B and one meal for most of our time in Italy.


On Monday, we made the short walk from our B&B to St. Mark’s Square. A few tourists were out and we watched several of them buy bread crumbs to feed the pigeons that would swarm to them and climb all over their body in a feeding frenzy. Disgusted by the thought of pigeons touching me, we couldn’t have partaken in this ritual anyway since we still did not have a single Euro in cash. (Note: the selling of birdseed and feeding of pigeons has since been banned in an effort to beautify the square.) We proceeded to St. Mark’s Basilica, one of the loveliest churches that I have ever seen. Enjoying the beautiful buildings and charming shops, we spent a couple of hours walking through the narrow streets and weaving our way through the city. As I had been told, Venice really is a truly unique place and we felt like we could have spent weeks wandering through the city, sampling sweets, window shopping, admiring churches, popping into bookshops, and generally exploring this wonderful city.


After checking out of our B&B, we caught a water taxi to the nearby island of Murano, famous for their colorful glass. Similar to Venice, canals wove through the charming town. Cafes lined the canals and the buildings rose impressively out of the water. In Murano, we admired the glass on display and shopped for gifts for friends and family. After a couple of hours on the island, we tried to catch a water taxi back to Venice so that we could enjoy our nice meal of the day before boarding a train to Bologna. This plan hit a snag when I once again chose the wrong water taxi and, instead of making the 10-minute trip to Venice, we motored out of sight of land. Forty minutes later, we arrived at a sparsely populated island where we opted to disembark. Following a half hour wait, we caught a water taxi heading back to Murano and endured another 40-minute ride. By the time we reached the train station, it was too late for the nice sit-down meal that we had planned, so we contented ourselves with hastily selected sandwiches from a deli washed down with several Bellini’s and a strong “spritz con Aperol.”


Following the frantic rushing and relative stress of Rome, Venice proved to be a nice change of pace. After five days in Italy, we finally eased into the vacation mode and were able to relax and fully enjoy our surroundings. Not that appreciating the beauty of Venice is difficult. It is everywhere and my only regret is that we didn’t spend longer wandering through the maze of bridges, alleys, and piazzas. Venice is the type of place that encourages visitors to linger and it was the perfect place to experience with someone that I care about. Relaxed, enjoying our surroundings and each other’s company, Venice introduced us to the Italian concept of “la dolce vita” – living the good life.

One Reply to “Veni, Vidi, Vici, Venice”

  1. omg.. good work, man

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