Friday, July 6, 2012

Escape to Venezia—Part 1

Andy gets a husband medal for sending his wife, her mother, and their friend to Venice, Italy while he stayed home in Berlin with our girls.  He found the cheap airfare and sent us on our merry way to enjoy a whole new country and culture and cuisine.  To get to Venice from my apartment in Berlin, we were transported in a bus, 2 trains, a plane, a boat, & NO automobiles.  The plane ride was only an hour and a ½, and all 3 of us American girls were extremely surprised that only one person barely looked at our passports.  (Hooray for the EU!)  Walking through the airport, it hit me that this was the first time since my honeymoon that I’d been in a country where I don’t speak the language at all.  This fact plus the tropical climate forced me automatically into vacation mode, and that was soo importantly the point of our mini-break. 

I did have a few linguistic advantages working for me in Italy though.  Firstly, I am an American who spent a considerable amount of time working in restaurants at least partially staffed by Mexicans.  I am not trying to suggest anything by this comment, merely stating a fact of my experience.  As a result, I can muddle through a little bit of Spanish, the very close cousin of Italian.  This helped me read more than speak honestly, but it was at least a little help.  Secondly, I worked at Olive Garden in college, which gave me an extraordinary advantage when it came to reading menus at restaurants.  Thirdly, Venice is a massive tourist destination, and almost everyone spoke at least a little bit of English.  I even picked up a few words and phrases of Italian during our stay there.

The entire city of Venice most assuredly exhibited the OG adopted motto of Hospitaliano!  There are only 60,000 residents on the 120 closely knit islands stitched together with 200 bridges, and there were surely the same number of tourists during the days.  We saw several extra-large cruise ships with boats full of day trippers every day that we were there, and the crowds could certainly be overwhelming in places.  Even with all that tourist traffic, the residents of Venice were nothing but hospitable every time I encountered one, though surely they were muttering mean things in Italian about the obliviously rude tourists who blocked “roads” by walking 2 abreast. 

Seriously, this is a Venetian "Road".

I must quickly say that we stayed at the most delightful little bed and breakfast in an entirely non-tourist section of the city within walking distance to all the city highlights.  Nicola the owner is a southern Italy transplant with an amazing story to tell and was an outstanding host.  When we first arrived on the island, Nicola came to meet us at the vaporetto (water bus) stop and walked us back to the house through the labyrinth.  He explained in detail including landmarks how to wind our way back to the house while my mother and Alice snapped pictures and followed us.  I would highly recommend Oceano Mare to anyone who is planning a visit to Venice!  Please tell Nicola that we say hello! 

Here he is helping us pull our suitcases and find our way back to the BnB from the Vaporetto Stop.  

 Here he is with a painting of his mysterious grandfather who owned the house before him.  

The first afternoon/evening that we spent in Venice was spent walking around, eating, getting lost, walking, having a very expensive cocktail, and walking some more.  

You don't even want to know how much those Bellinis and Diet Coke cost us! 

We figured out very quickly that we could not read the map of the city at all and basically had to try to figure out how to get back to the water.  We magically and completely accidentally found Saint Mark’s Basilica and had a lovely bellini and walk back to the BnB from there.  All the walking in the hot sun wore us out, and we went to bed early to rest up for our super tourist day that we had planned.    
To be continued…


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