Venice, Italy in 13 hours:
Very late 3/21/16: After Alyssa and I left Copenhagen we had a layover in Brussels for two hours. This also just happened to be HOURS before the explosions occurred at this very same airport on the morning of March 22nd. I’m still a bit traumatized by the fact that I was there hours before this event. I’m very lucky to be safe and well. Count your blessings and tell your loved ones you love them no matter what. (Maybe I’ll go into more detail about this event/terrorism going on around the world in another future post).
Anyway, enough of the mushy stuff, we finally arrived in Venice at around midnight and made our way to the hostel. Even in the dark, Venice was stunning. A downside is that you have to be careful where you’re walking because one lopsided cobblestone and boom into a canal. Once we finally found our hostel, we were relieved to find out that we had the entire 4 person room to ourselves. That was a relief and we quickly snoozed off.
3/22/16: The next morning, we woke up early because we only had that day to spend in Venice. We got ready, and headed out to grab a quick bite at a cafe in Plaza of San Marco before our Gondola ride at 11:30. We made it onto our rocky gondola and sailed (well not actually but you know what I mean) off around Venice on some of the main canals. The trip lasted only about a half an hour and with all the other gondolas’ in the area I’m pretty surprised our guide didn’t bump into anyone.
After our gondola ride, we walked back to the Plaza and got tickets to Doge’s Palace. Being in Venice for only a day, I felt going to something historical would be appropriate in order to pay my dues to the city. The palace was built in a Venetian gothic style and was absolutely beautiful. The palace is the home of the former Republic of Venice and the residence of the Doge of Venice.
After adventuring around the Palace for a while we took a quick (hmm hmm) break then decided to head over to Del Moro’s Fresh Pasta. A friend recommended this place to us and we were HUNGRY. This is a pasta stand where they make the pasta in front of you from scratch and you eat it on the go (#OnlyInItaly). I got Cacio e Pepe which was a fancy looking mac & cheese. Absolutely DELICIOUS might I add and probably hands down the best pasta I’ve ever had in my life. Be prepared to stand in a long line though. Of course, after our salivating lunch, we HAD to go and get some gelato! When in Italy, am I right?
To be completely honest, there really isn’t THAT much to do in Venice. Yes, it’s a cool city made up of over 119 islands, but I was already through with just the gondola ride and some good Italian food. Alyssa and I walked over to the water taxi and bought tickets to head over to Murano, a small Island off of the main islands of Venice. It took about 45 minutes to get there, including all the stops the taxi had to make. An amazing cruise ride, the sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky.
Once we disembarked in Murano, we started walking around and browsing at the different shops with Murano glass (the best place to get it is on this tiny island, DUH). We also learned that if the glass itself has a tag or sticker that says “made in Murano” or “real Murano glass” then it’s legit. Number one rule of Murano: never buy glass if that tag or notice isn’t in the shop because some places will try and rip you off and sell you fake Murano glass. Besides all the browsing, we got some coffee (and wifi connection) and explored the island for a while. Once we were done, we waited for a long time in a crowded line to board the water taxi again and head back to the main island of Venice.
Once we got back onto the mainland, we were HUNGRY. We quickly found a nice restaurant along one of the many 177 canals (had to Google that) and enjoyed some pizza and wine. Pizza is pretty much a must in Italy so I had to get it. After dinner, I STILL had room for more gelato but this time we just went to a stand that got great reviews online. We walked around the rest of the city and by this time it was starting to get dark. We headed back to the hostel, grabbed our stuff and dragged our bags to the water taxi and headed onto our next destination. We had a train to catch at 9pm and that was on the mainland. Once we arrived at the train station, things got interesting..
So in Europe, there’s this crazy thing called the 24 hour time clock and all of Europe uses it. Fact. I even changed my time settings on my phone (before I left to come abroad, good job Nikki!) to the 24 hour time clock because most of the day is between 13:00-23:00 anyways. Anyways, it should’ve clicked in our minds that something was up when the time on our train ticket said it was leaving at 9:00. The only confusing part was that it didn’t say am or pm. Well, we got to the train station and our train WAS NOT up on the board. F**k is what went through our minds. Well apparently, we think (still not totally sure to this day) that we might’ve accidentally bought the 9amtrain ticket to Florence instead of the 9pm. To make matters even more stressful, a 9pm train didn’t exist for that night nor did another train that was going straight to Florence. Uhhhhhh. We quickly found some decent wifi at the station and bought a Megabus ticket that was leaving in one hour. WE HAD ONE HOUR TO GET TO THE BUS STOP FROM THE STATION AND THAT INVOLVED ANOTHER WATER TAXI. This is not the time to be in a city where the canals substitute as streets. Long story short, we made it to the bus with 20 minutes to spare and prepared ourselves for the 4 hour long drive to Florence.
After one stop in bumblewhat Italy and exactly 4 hours later, we finally arrived in Florence at 1:30am. Before we left Venice, I texted my mom asking her to email our hostel in Florence to let them know we were going to be arriving late due to transportation issues (with limited Wifi). Thankfully I did that (and Thanks Mom) because the poor manager of our hostel stayed up until 2am, waiting for us to check in (most hostels stop check in atmidnight). There are good people in this world, I was so thankful that he waited for us otherwise Alyssa and I would probably slept on a bench (jk). We quietly entered our room, and immediately went to sleep.
3/23/16 & 3/24/16: Florence, Italy
I forgot to make my usual list on my phone of everything I did in this city in order (oops) so I’ll just sum up in bullets what I did in Florence since our time was short lived here as well.
- Piazza Del Duomo: The 463 steps was totally worth the amazing view of the city. I highly recommend climbing (& the huffing and puffing) to the top because it is very cool. All of the buildings in this city are the same color scheme so the city looks uniform.
- Galleria dell’Accademia: The only museum we waited in line for and went to. At first, we got lost trying to find it but it was well worth the wait. The famous sculpture of David sculpted by Michaelangelo was at this museum (fun fact: we have the same birthday tehe). David is HUGE, 17 feet to be exact!! The work was absolutely breathtaking and to think that he was all sculpted by one person is unbelievable.
- FOOD: I knew before my trip to Italy that Italian food was going to be my weakness and it sure was. With the exception of ordering a Caprese salad at one restaurant, I went all out at every place we ate at. We stopped and enjoyed delicious hand made ready to go margarita pizza from Gusta Pizza, tried some amazing pesto gnocchi (YUM), gobbled on a caprese panini, made a stop at the Magnum store (designed my own Magnum ice cream bar), and endless amounts of coffee, mini pastries and of course, gelato.
To be completely honest, I was not very impressed with Florence. Since it’s a popular destination for study abroad students, I had big expectations for the city but found myself not knowing what to do a lot of the time spent there. It was big city with a small city feel and not much of a public transportation system. You pretty much have to walk everywhere which got tiring at times. I just felt there was not much to do and am very glad I had picked another city to study in. No disrespect towards anyone who has lived and/or is currently studying abroad in Florence but it was not the city for me.
After we grabbed our stuff from the hostel, we headed towards the train station and met with our tour group called bus2alps and soon begin our trip to the Amalfi Coast! Coming up next post!