torrie's travels


La Serenissima November 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 3:51 pm

I haven’t even been in Italy for 48 hours and I am in love. At least with Venice. And it lived up to this nickname. It was very serene. It was perfect!  I had the best day today!

First, I left my hotel in Zermatt yesterday at 7:25am and took a train, bus, train, train, water taxi to get to my hotel in Venice at 4:00pm. I still don’t know why we had to take that bus from St. Nicklaus to Visp again. Then to get on a similar train as the one we got off to take us to Brig, where I got on the regional train for the 5 hour trip to Venice. So weird.

My hotel is interesting. It has a great location…two minutes from the water taxi drop-off and two minutes from Piazza San Marco. The guy who checked me in was super nice (not to mention pretty good looking!) and informed me that while they usually serve breakfast, “tomorrow is impossible.” He told me that they would have a flood tomorrow and everything would be wet. He said it would be 1.3 meters. My hotel faces a canal and apparently there are places where the canals flood. This is one of them. He told me that I needed to be out of my hotel by 8:30 in order to not be trapped inside all day. He also offered me a pair of wellies, but he said that they would be very large for my feet, but if I shuffled around in them, it could work. And then I don’t have to buy an expensive pair. Very nice of him!

So I dropped my stuff off at my room and realized I needed to get out and see some stuff because I was going to have less time in town than I originally thought (once I realized what time I needed to leave to be in Milan Saturday afternoon). It was sprinkling out, but I knew it was going to rain today, so I had to get out there. I loved it. Even in the rain it was lovely. I made it to Piazza San Marco right away and saw that the Basilica was still open. Oh my gosh. I think this one wins. Hands down. It was dark, due to the time of day and the clouds, but they had large lights inside. I couldn’t tell if the lights were for the visitors or for renovations. Anyway, I wish I had photos from this, but the sign said no photos. So I took none. And I may have chastised some people for taking photos. But then I saw EVERYONE taking photos. And no one was getting in trouble. Some were even using flash. Rude. I know, I know, I am SUCH a rule-follower, but hello, I’d like photos, too. A rule-follower yes, a follower, no. So I took none.

But it’s so amazing. It’s enormous. It seriously felt like the largest (tallest), most cavernous of the churches I have been in. And the marble and tile work. Incredible. The whole ceiling is basically gold. There were some really cool light fixtures, too. Unfortunately, you couldn’t just explore. It’s roped off and you have to essentially go through single-file. But it was incredible. I was going to go through it again today, but opted not to.

After that I walked around the square window shopping at all the shops around the square. At this point, it had started to rain harder, so it was nice being out of it. I then ventured beyond the square and over bridges and whatnot. I kept the square as a home base and always made sure I found my way back before venturing out in another direction. I was mesmerized by all the Murano glass. My Canadian roommates in Berlin said that you could buy it in Venice without taking a boat to Murano (that was on my list, but I knew I wouldn’t have time). I also was loving all the leather.

Eventually I got hungry and couldn’t decide where to eat. I’m in Italy. Food is important. But I had no idea what was good and what wasn’t, so I just picked. The people were very nice, but the food was not so tasty. I mean, it was fine. It just wasn’t, oh-my-gosh-I’m-eating-pasta-in-Italy good. I had spaghetti with meatballs. The bread they gave me? Hard-ish rolls. That’s not what kind of bread I want in Italy. It was like they were Pillsbury rolls or something. The food was ok. I wasn’t a huge fan of the meatballs. And they only sold wine by the bottle. No bueno. At first, my server seemed rude. I started to ask if they had a sweet wine and all I got out of my mouth was “do you have” and he goes, cappuccino? And the he got distracted and looked away and he looked back and was like, yes? Um, no. No cappuccino. But after that he was great. The guy who brought my food did not bring me a pasta spoon. So about halfway through my server saw me and brought me a spoon. Yes! Then when I said I was finished and he asked if I wanted coffee or dessert and I said no, he did funny double take. At first I didn’t know he was kidding, so I said “no thank you” again and he did it again. And then we laughed. I wasn’t about to spend 6 euro on gelato I could get for 2 euro elsewhere! And that’s exactly what I did!

I relaxed the rest of the evening, knowing I had to get up early today. I went to bed at 10:30 and woke u around 6:45 for some reason. It was good I did because shortly thereafter the sirens started going off. They went off last night and I found out what they were when I was googling Venice and flooding. The sirens alert people 3 hours before the high tide as to how bad the flood is going to be. It’s based on the tone of the siren. So at least that didn’t startle me awake. And I fell back asleep until 7:30.

The guy at the front desk must’ve forgotten about lending me the wellies, because he didn’t say anything when I dropped my key off (yep, have to leave the key at this one, too. So strange.). That was ok, I thought “localized flooding” probably wouldn’t affect me. Ha! As I entered Piazza San Marco I could see the water in the square and the platforms set up. Yes, all through the square (and in some other places) platforms were set up so that pedestrians could walk without walking through water. But the flooding intrigued me. Because there was water in the square and the square is not RIGHT NEXT TO the Grand Canal. The water was lapping at the edge of the road there, to be sure, but it was still far away from where flooding was starting to happen.

So tonight I come home and googled. Apparently Venice is sinking. At a rate of 2mm a year. So the water is basically seeping up through the ground, not just coming over the side of a canal onto a road. Street? Sidewalk? Walkway? What are they called? But this just happens at high tide. And it sounds like maybe coupled with rain in the winter? I don’t know if this happens in the summer, but I can’t imagine it does. Anyway, vendors have cottoned on and they sell these plastic-y rain boots. I was kind of chuckling at tourists wearing them yesterday. Oh, I shouldn’t have laughed.

My plan for the morning was to walk. And walk. And go to the train station to get my seat reservation for tomorrow. And see the Rialto Bridge and Market. And walk. I was up before 90% of Venice, but was able to get a croissant with jam in it while I walked. It was marvelous. It was raining, sprinkling, then nothing. Off and on. But I just walked. I somewhat followed the signs to Rialto, but not always. Eventually my pants were so wet, just from walking on the wet streets, that I stopped into a shop and purchased a pair of the rain boots. It was a must. I looked ridiculous, but half of the population was wearing them, so…

I loved walking. Loved it. Rialto Bridge was great. So big! But mostly I just loved checking out what was behind the next turn. What postcard view was around that bend? I hit some dead ends, but it was no problem. I wasn’t in any hurry, nowhere to be, everything to see. I took out my map app (ha!) twice, just to be sure I was still in the right direction of the train station. But mostly I was just exploring. Literally. Once at the train station, I got my ticket and set off in another direction. It was so fun. Eventually the sun even came out! It was glorious! It didn’t stay, but it was so lovely while it lasted.

I had lunch at a little restaurant on a square because it met my qualifications: I wanted a sandwich, to sit down, and have wifi. Unfortunately, I wanted a yummy wrap I was seeing everywhere and this place didn’t have them. So I had a panini. But it wasn’t a panini I’ve ever seen. I think it just means sandwich. It was ok.

I knew I was going to shop today, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I saw lots of cool Murano glass jewelry and some fabulous Italian leather bags, but I kept thinking, “what if I see something better or cheaper later???” So other than a shot glass and an elephant, I hadn’t bought anything. And then my camera batteries went. I think they are worn out. They don’t last as long anymore. I will definitely need new ones when I get back. So I came back to the hotel to relax. I had been out for almost 7 hours, after all! And except for the 30-40 mins, I was walking the entire time.

After resting, I set out to shop and have dinner. I still couldn’t pull the trigger and then I kept wanting to remember places, but like I could remember where I was. All the wind-y, narrow, lanes and bridges and canals. Yeah, right. So I found a place that had some necklaces I was buying as gifts when I saw the prettiest glass neckless and earrings. It was turquoise and very light blue. Gorgeous.  Very expensive.  No. I may be in the market to treat myself, but no. So I was buying the other necklaces and walked over to it again. One of the men working said, you really like? I laughed and said yes. The other man said he would give me a better price. So he reduced the price and I bought. It was a 10 euro difference between with the earrings and without. So I went with.

Then I was looking for some place to eat when I remembered that I wanted to try a Bellini (Prosecco and peach juice…originated in Venice). They have them bottled. Not just a cocktail in a restaurant. So I found one that wasn’t too expensive. It was tasty! But I will never get over being able to drink alcohol walking through the streets of a city! While drinking my Bellini I came upon a handbag store I had been in earlier. I went in again, thinking it had a bag I had wanted. It didn’t. But new ones had just come in. I wanted to see the black one and it was still in the plastic because she said they came in 5 minutes ago. It was more than I wanted to spend, but I didn’t say that. She said she would give me a discount and so I bartered for lower. She said she would give it to me for my price if I paid cash. Done.

At this point, I decided to eat at one of the restaurants just off of Piazza San Marco. I had spaghetti and clams. It was good! And they had the right kind of bread! But the food comes out so quickly, that they obviously have the noodles premade. Which is why I’m wondering if it isn’t as good as I think it could be. Seriously, the spaghetti I had in Munich is still probably the best of the whole trip. But 10 more days for Italy to change my mind! Haha! I had another gelato on my way home. I can’t do that every night. Must stop.

Sleeping in a bit tomorrow before trekking to Milan for the afternoon and then Florence. Looking forward to spending 4 nights in one place!


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