Posted on 01-08-2007
Filed Under (Italy) by admin

We woke up at about 6:00 am, but weren’t really functional until 6:10. Our train to Venice left at 6:52, and we had about 15 minutes of walking, so we really had to be leaving E & S by 6:30…

As we got to the bottom floor, I watched my watch tick past 6:38; we were moving quickly towards the train station, luckily a walk we’d done several times before, so there would be no getting lost. A few minutes more of walking, and it seemed like my watch had jumped ahead, suddenly it was 6:45 and we were still pretty far from the station. Hayley was behind me, and I guess she decided things were getting too close, so she started running. Mike and I followed suit, and we hopped on the train just as it started pulling away.

We made it to Venice at around 11:30 and had all day to check it out. Staying in Venice a night would have cost a huge amount of money. Hayley had also been to Venice before, and said there wasn’t that much to see Venice, so we decided to go for the day, see what we could and experience its uniqueness. We arrived in a station that looked like most of the train stations we’d been to in Italy. We waited on a long line to check our luggage, and were finally ready to see what Venice was all about.

I stepped out of the train station and immediately saw a large sidewalk and a road with boats driving down it… No, wait… that’s a river. I mean, of course I knew Venice basically had streets of water, but seeing it with my own eyes was such a strange experience. It was great though; there were nice big stone walking paths enclosed by stores and restaurants on both sides. Every once in awhile we would get to a bridge, cross over as a motor boat speeds under and remember, “Oh yeah… this is Venice!”

We spent the first half an hour or so looking for one restaurant in particular that the book suggested, and when we finally arrived we saw that it was closed until August 2nd. A lot of Italians take this time of the year off for vacation because its so hot in Italy during late July… And, while we thought Venice would be cooler than Rome since it was North a bit, it was actually incredibly hot… Much hotter than Rome. It may have just been the day, but it was really just sweltering, searing heat.

Since our restaurant was closed, we headed to the #2 restaurant on the list, Bepi’s. We ordered a few different things and shared… Lemon Shrimp, which turned out to be tons of tiny tiny shrimp, Brouchettes of Chicken, so basically shishkabob, Garlic Spaghetti which was “Chili-Spicy” and a salad. Although, Venice doesn’t seem to be known for their food, Bepi’s was excellent. The chicken was incredibly flavorful and the spaghetti truly was chili-spicy.

After eating, we made our way to the sites of Venice, mainly Piazza San Marco, where the Church of San Marco and Doji Palace are. They were two more incredible buildings in Italy to add to our list, but there was something about this Piazza that made it even more memorable and unique… PIGEONS. Tons of them, everywhere! For one Euro, Hayley bought me a bag of dry corn and we placed it on my arms… Suddenly, I was attacked from all angles. Pigeons were landing on my arms and grabbing onto my fingers to eat from my hands. They crowded around my feet stepping on my toes as they nibbled at the corn dropping to the ground. I put some corn on my hat’s brim, and a few pigeons were brave enough to land on my head and try to get them. It was a great time… Actually, I think on the scale of fun things we’ve done in Europe, I would put playing with Pigeons right below Skydiving and just above ATVing… Or somewhere around there.

We hung around the area and looked at some shops in the area for a bit, and then headed towards the Grand Canal and saw the Bridge of Sighs on the way. The story, as Hayley told me, is that the bridge connected the Doji Palace to the prisons, and it was named from the criminals sighing as the were brought into the prisons. The Grand Canal was on our right as we walked down a bridge towards a bunch of smaller stands selling small souvenirs, including the staple gift of the refiion, Ventian Glass. We’d been popping in and out of stores selling Venetian Glass all day, admiring their work. The heat outside in the sun wstanding by all the stands was just about unbearable though, so we made our way to the Water Taxis.

We rode the water taxi along the Grand Canal for quite awhile, until we were just about back to the train station. We’d walked to just about the other end of Venice. The water taxi was great, though; we got to really look at Venice from the perspective of the water. We were trying to fiure out exactly how Venice was built… If it was completely man made, or built on bits of land; It really looked as if it was entirely built on the water. Branching off of the grand canal, in between buildings would either be a narrow alley/walkway, or just simply a small stretch of water in between buidlings. I’d actually seen this once before, in China, I believe in Suzhou. We took a boat ride in between buildings and there would just be steps going from the doorway down into the water. It’s a strange site that makes me wonder what life as a whole like is like when actually living in water cities.

I’d been taking a ton of pictures on the water taxi, and about halfway through a girl came on with the same camera as mine. We each sort of glanced at each other, recognizing cameras and had a photograph-othan until she got off. She was the first person I’ve ever seen take more pictures than myself… Impressive.

We got off, found the station and then walked arond for a bit more, since our train didn’t leave for awhile. We passed by several Tabacco stores, or Tabbachis, as they are in Italy, and in the window of one saw a small hookah, or nargileh. Just in case, a hookah is a middle-eastern/eastern-european smoking pipe that has a water bowl-base that sits on the ground or table. A pipe rises from the base, and a bowl holds a flavored tobacco/syrup mix, Shisha, that is heated by a coal on top. A hose connected to the pipe pullls the smoke through the water, filtering it, and then out.

Now, I am certainly no smoker, but hookahs are really very different then just whipping out a cigarrette throughout the day. Mike & I had a hookah when we were roommates, and its amazing how it brings people together to relax and converse for hours, though not actually smoking all that much. There have been many times along the way, especially in Corfu, where we thought about how great it would be to just have a hookah we could take out. So, we decided to purchase the small hookah. It came with a case that kept all its parts under control and it didn’t seem like it would be too difficult to manage… We’re pros at moving around with our bags now anyway.

We went to a grocery store and got the usual ingredients… Some bread, cheese and italian deli meats. There was a nice little square along the water with a statue in the middle that we’d passed earlier in the day that we thought we be a nie place to eat. When we arrived there was an accordian player there; accordians have really been growing on me lately, its an incredible instrument. We peacefully ate our sandwiches and smoked hookah by the water, watching people go by awhile accordian music played in the background.

Our train was at 20:44, 8:44, so at around 7:30 we headed back to the station and got ready for our ride to Vienna. We made to our train with plenty of time to spare, for the first time ever, and said Arrivederci to Italy until our next backpacking trip through Europe.

Next stop, Austria!



lina and sami on 2 August, 2007 at 11:19 pm #

Nicky, we love your descriptions about food. You are a true food lover. Venice is our favorite city and we love the Piazza St Marco. Too bad it was so hot, but your made the best of it. We love how you smoked the Nargila in the middle of Venice and no one bothered you. Sami and Lina

Ma on 3 August, 2007 at 1:33 pm #

I got a kick out of how high you rated playing with pigeons in your experiences in Europe this summer. When I had seen the photo of you with the pigeon on your head (# 12), it was the only time I thought I’d like to have that photo on my computer screen as much as the skydiving photo (which I LOVE having there all the time). Your expression in the pigeon photo reminds me of the joy you used to experience when you were little - a bit like the photo of you with all the teddy bears clipped to your shirt. Have a great time!

Fady on 4 August, 2007 at 11:26 am #

Nicky. where are you? we miss you! we miss your news and your great descriptions of Europe, food and drink and sights. I hope everything is going well for you three, and don’t forget to write.xxxoooxxx

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