11 December 2017

Travel Post: Italy - Day 6 (Venice)

Day 6 - Thursday

Our first morning in Venice didn't start off too well: the room was incredibly warm but the geyser didn't produce any hot water, the water was lukewarm at best. The room already cost a lot (and it was the cheapest I could find that looked decent online) and our breakfast was a further 7 euros extra per person. Granted, we didn't have to eat there, but we figured that we wouldn't be able to eat a hotel-style breakfast AND have coffee someplace else for that price. So all in all we weren't vey happy campers at that stage.

The breakfast itself was nice. Not the best we've had by then, but not bad. There was a selection of cold meats and a strong white cheese (those with the holes in it) that I don't really like. They also had yogurt, breakfast cereal (nope), small stale buns, hot breakfast options, juice, and a variety of croissants. Their coffee option was from a Douw Egberts machine which didn't exactly blow my socks off.

After breakfast I complained about the lack of hot water in the room and within 10 minutes the handyman was there to fix it. He fiddled with the shower taps and tried to talk to me, but with him only speaking Italian and me only speaking English, it didn't go so well. The husband asked him to do something about the central heating (the lady at reception said they couldn't do anything about the heat) but the handyman said he'd switch off ours. 

After breakfast we set off for St Mark's square. And by "set off" I mean, basically walk 80 m, because that's how close the hotel is to St Mark's square. The options were: walk around on St Mark's square (it's just a square with shops and restaurants around the edges), go to St Mark's Basilica, or go to St Mark's Campanile (clock tower). By then we were a bit tired and wanted to take things slow. We decided to go to St Mark's Basilica, but we had to wait around as it only opened at 9:30. We went inside but weren't allowed to take photos. It is really beautiful inside and all the artwork on the walls,  the ceilings, and the floors, were made from teeny tiny mosaic tiles. Every single artwork! It's incredible to see. We could also go up to the almost-top of the basilica (next to the four horse statues) which had a stunning view over St Mark's square and, in the distance, the ocean.

After this we thought about going up the clock tower, but we decided against it. We ended up drinking coffee with a view of the ocean and the "harbour" and deciding what to do next. We decided to take things slow and to walk around instead of chasing monuments. Venice is a very expensive city and we decided against going to Doge's Palace (photo fourth from the bottom), for instance, as it was a whopping 20 euros per person to go in. 

We settled on taking a water taxi and going "overseas" to a small island called San Giorgio Maggiore. Saint George's Major is both the name of the island and the church built on the island. We initially missed our stop and got off on the adjacent island (the two islands are about 50 m from each other but there is no bridge) and had to wait for the taxi to come back on its route so that we could take it to where we were supposed to go.

The church itself is beautiful and the ticket gives you access to the clock tower from which you can see the entire Venice in all its glory. The sun also decided to make an appearance and the blue skies offset the beautiful old buildings beautifully. It was also at the top of this clock tower that we finally opened the note from my doctor telling us that we are expecting a baby girl.

After this we still had some time left over on our water taxi pass, so we took a water taxi basically right around Venice. We saw lots of cool buildings and I also saw the famous hands "holding up" on eof the buildings on the edge of the canal, so cool!

By coincidence we got off at the stop closest to the Rialto Bridge and it was at sunset, so we got the chance to photograph it. Venice sunsets really make for gorgeous photos and I'm contemplating printing and enlarging at least one of the photos I took to hang in our house.

 Oddly enough we also met a couple from Cape Town on the bridge which was very cool! They were also there taking photos of the sunset and heard us speaking Afrikaans. After walking around some more we went to a restaurant for dinner. I can't remember the price, but I know it was quite a good price for a four-course meal and they served Venetian specialities, so that was another plus point.

We started off with a Venetian speciality: Sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines). Now this might sound a bit weird, but they basically pickle sardines in a sweet and sour brine. This particular dish was served with pickled onions (I think they pickle the sardines with the onions) and grilled polenta. I would have liked a bit more sardines and a little less onion, but it was still very, very tasty.

For our second course we had the most delicious seafood pasta. I've found that usually if your order any seafood-related dish in a restaurant (I'm talking about SA specifically), they skimp on the seafood. You'll get one or two mussels and a few crab sticks. But not here: the portion was big and the seafood plenty. I could have happily stopped here and just had my dessert, but there was a third course on the way...

For the third course we had another Venetian speciality: Nero di seppia (loosely translated to squid ink). It was as disgusting as it sounds and looks. I just tried to Google the correct name (still not sure this is it) and I saw someone comparing it to wet tar. That is pretty accurate. And imagine further that it tastes like Bovril. Now look, I'm a big fan of Bovril but I would prefer to not eat a big, warm, chunky plate of it. Normally the Italians use the squid ink to colour the spaghetti, but sometimes you get a pile of squid pieces with the ink. I ate about a quarter of it and then sent it back saying that I was too full. I was full, but it was also disgusting.

Our fourth and last course was dessert: tiramisu. You can't go wrong with a bowl (or in this case, a plate) of creamy tiramisu!

When we got the bill it was, of course, much higher than just what we ate: the restaurant was kind enough to add a "tourist charge" to our bill. How lovely! This is something that really annoys me of a lot of restaurants in Italy. If you're going to charge me extra, at least tell me so from the beginning.

Anyway, we set off for the hotel for our last night in Venice. The room wasn't as hot as when we left and although not steaming hot, the geyser water was at least warm enough to wash and rinse my hair with.

And that was our sixth day in Italy! There are two more posts coming your way, please check in soon so you won't miss anything.

Until next time!


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