Ah, so where did I leave off? Oh yes, we were about to get our train to Venice! After feeling a bit guilty having woken up our hosts at our B&B, they graciously called us a taxi to the train station. While waiting for our taxi, we briefly met this nice young man who had apparently been staying there for about a month on some kind of work study program – from Iowa or somewhere, can’t remember, but definitely from the US! So, where was he the last few days!? Anyway, we made it to the train station, and lucky for us, a McDonald’s was there and they served breakfast. I parked Lorna and our luggage at a table and got in line. It wasn’t too bad and we had time. I have to say, it took me a few minutes to figure out their combo meal. But I did and I ordered 2 capps, 2 OJs, and 2 breakfast sandwiches. Oddly, they didn’t have Canadian bacon for their egg McMuffin, it came with just regular bacon. After breakfast, we easily spotted our flight, posted on the marquis. Right on time,
Florence to Venice – piece of cake! We waited at our track, figured out which coach we were supposed to be in, and boarded the train. I have to say, it was a bit of a pain having to lug our luggage around in the narrow passages and then LIFT them over our heads to put them in the overheads, but we managed. It was about a 2-hour train ride to Venice from Florence. We had first class tickets. It was a very nice train, with nice, comfy chairs. About a half hour into the ride, the beverage cart came along. Ah, yes – Prosecco at 9am! Lol! Ok, they give you a really little
glass, maybe 4 ounces at best! But it was fun. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the scenery on the way. I took a bunch of pictures!
Venice Mestre train station! Ok, looked a lot different from Florence! Like, where were all these people going and why were they heading toward these little closets that were apparently elevators? Well, we just kind of followed the crowd. We got in and there was no choice but to go down, so, we hit the button. We went down a level; the street level, I guess you would say? We got out and looked around – hmm… ok, need a taxi. Again, we followed the signs toward the exit and found the outside. There was this long line to get a taxi. We got in line. Someone yelled at us, in Italian, that we weren’t at the end of the line, but someone else was blocking the way, so we couldn’t get to the end of the line. Natives? So much for everyone being so friendly. We did move, when we were able. You’d think they’d have LOTS of taxis just waiting there for the travelers. But no! There were like 2 or 3 at a time, if you were really lucky. One time I think we actually saw 4 arrive at the same time. I was seriously beginning to think it was the same 5 taxis just going in circles to the various hotels, etc. After at least a good 20-minute wait, our taxi arrived and we headed to Hotel Alexander. About a 10-minute taxi ride. I felt I did pretty well, booking close to the train station. We were able to check in pretty much right away. It was just about noon when we arrived. We told the concierge we were going to Venice, proper, for the Murano tour. He told us how to get there. We asked him when we should leave and he said “now.” “What?” we just got here!
Our tour was for 2:30p and we were to meet near San Marco square by the statue of the man with the horse. Sounded a little clandestine to me! We figured out how to get the tram, a few blocks walk from our hotel. The tram took you to the actual Venice island. It was about a 20 minute or so ride. The concierge said it was about a 45-minute walk to the meeting place from the train station area. Ok, we had plenty of time. The tram dropped us off and there we were, but where were we? We were looking around and I guess I expected to see a big sign that said “Venice – this way…” lol, but we didn’t. Again, we kind of followed the crowd and I looked up and saw the train station and this really big bridge! I said to Lorna – I think we are here! We go over this bridge! Like I said, it was a REALLY BIG bridge and lots of steps! I was really glad I changed my mind and booked our hotel on the mainland. I did not envy those persons having to lug one or two suitcases over that bridge, and later, onto the water taxis! (hint, hint, Marie and Jane). After we finally made it over the bridge, we looked around and realized we had no clue where we were going, so decided to get the water taxi to take us to the San Marco port. I am really not a big being “on the water” fan, but when in Rome, er, I mean Venice, you go with the flow – of the waves… We boarded the water taxi, unfortunately, there were no seats, so we had to stand, in the MIDDLE of this water taxi, with nothing to hang onto. I have a problem with my feet/legs swelling, so the standing was not doing them any good. We did get a nice tour of the Grand Canal that way and after at least a 30-minute ride, or so it seemed, I had to get off! We got off at the port actually before San Marco and walked the rest of the way, it was only about 5 minutes and we arrived at just about the same time as the water taxi. It was just about 2p by then, so we had a little time, as we were supposed to meet by 2:15p. Breakfast was a long time ago, so I grabbed a can of Coke and a bag of chips and called it lunch!
Our guide arrived right on time – the rest of our group was also from the US. She spoke very good English and gave us a little history of Venice, while we waited for our little speed boat to take us to Murano, about another 30-minute boat ride! Did I say I was not that fond of boats? Lol! Our boat arrived and wow, that was a really big step down! Had to duck so I wouldn’t hit my head, and down I plopped. The sky overhead was going back and forth from big heavy clouds to sunshine. We thought for sure it was going to rain any minute! We arrived at Murano and, sure enough, I bopped my head getting out of the seating area. I think I actually saw stars! Ok, cleared the head and got off the boat. We headed toward the Murano glass factory where they actually blow, form, and mold the glass. My feet/legs were screaming at that point, so I found a little platform area, where I climbed and was able to sit down. Ironically, in Dearborn, we have something called “The Glass Factory” and it is just about identical to the Murano factory! So, I watched the demo, which consisted of the artisan actually blowing some glass, then he made a horse. I’ve seen this done before, so I wasn’t really missing anything, except I was in the real, Murano factory, watching this being done. After the demo, we were led into their showroom where you could purchase their art. It was our lucky day, they said “just for our special group” you could purchase things at a discount and even make them an offer and they would ship it for free, etc. Of course, even at the discount, the normal person could not afford most of it! For a simple tumbler, glass, the cost was 65 Euros! And it went up from there into the thousands! You weren’t allowed to take pictures in there, but I have to say it fed my glass junkie habit for at least an hour. I looked, and drooled, and wanted one of everything! There were pictures made of glass, sconces, wall lights, your little animal figurines, decanters with matching glasses, these huge pieces of art, sculptures, vases (and I mean “vahses!”), in all colors imaginable – the reds, the blues, the greens, the purples! They had coasters, and jewelry, and beads! I was not going to go there and not buy SOMEthing, so I ended up with this pretty little square paper weight with an angel fish on it. (see picture)
We then waited in this little outdoor gazebo area with this gorgeous Murano glass chandelier hanging from the top! Ok, now we were headed to Burano – island of lace – another 20-minute boat ride on a different boat, and it was smaller than the first one!
It was getting pretty cloudy again as we headed toward Burano. The guide led us into town to this one lace shop and we got a little tour. We got a discount on anything we purchased. It was beautiful lace, but nothing really piqued my fancy until I saw this scarf. Italian silk floral in shades of muted, soft greens, ivory, and turquoise (see picture). It looked like the clouds were definitely going to stick around. I was pretty bummed, as it was a beautiful island with brightly colored houses. I gave up and took pictures with the clouds anyway. A few people told me that you wanted to take pictures when it was cloudy – really? Who says “look at the gorgeous cloud – how it shadows that house?” No, you say, “look at the gorgeous water, how the sun sparkles on it!” However, most of the pictures did turn out pretty awesome! Even with no sun! I bought a few more items and convinced Lorna to buy this beautiful lace tunic, which she wore to the Verona concert!
By then it was close to 6:00p and I think we were leaving about 6:30p or so. It was another good 45-minute boat ride back to our meeting place. I was really tired and sat in the back of the boat, trying to get in a few winks. I think I may have actually dozed off a few times…? FINALLY, back on solid ground. We had purchased round-trip tickets, but I had had enough water for one day. I told Lorna we were walking back. This former Navy person was a bit disappointed, but this land lubber was ready to trade in her unfit sea legs! So, we started walking. The guide gave us some general directions, to head toward this or that sign, and we marched off. Oh, how good it felt to be walking on solid ground again! However, it was up and over one little bridge after another, down an alleyway, through a piazza, and all over again, basically heading in the right direction I knew we needed to go. We had a map, although I have to say it was not overly helpful for the most part. After we’d been walking for about an hour, I think Lorna thought for sure we were figuratively “lost in Venice.” Nah, never lost! I got out my savior, Google Maps and knew we needed to head toward the train station. So, in I punched Venice train station and up popped the directions – we were only about a 10-minute walk away! I did pretty good! We started walking and the distance said we were further away. We knew where we had to go, but couldn’t get there because of all the canals, so we had to find the right bridges. We did walk in circles a few times, but eventually, our “distance” was decreasing and we were heading in the right direction. By now, it was close to or after 8p. We were tired and hungry. We made it to just about where we needed to go and decided to stop for dinner. We did not make it to the restaurant suggested by Giada, as it was too far in the other direction. We decided on this one little pizzeria and decided to sit inside. We got our usual naturale and frizzante waters and both ordered pizza. I have to say, out of the 3 pizzas I ate in Italy, I think this was the best one. I ordered sauce (yes, not always a requirement…), cheese, olives, and I think, prosciutto? It came quickly and it was good. Just a little fyi… be careful if you order pizza there with olives – apparently they don’t always take out the pits? Yes, that was a surprise, hot, cooked, big green olives, pits and all! We finished and got out of there. It was about 9p by them and dusk and dark, were quickly setting it. We figured out how to get back to our big bridge. Oh, those steps! I think we burned off our pizza in no time! It was darned near dark by the time we got to the tram. We were really lucky there was one there waiting for us and we quickly got on. Unfortunately, again, there was no place to sit. We managed to remember where our stop was and made it back to our hotel with just a little detour – saved again, by Google maps! By the time we got back to our hotel it was nearly 10:30p! Again, we were exhausted. Funny, the toilet is sometimes called the water closet, but I was beginning to think all showers in hotels in Italy were more like a closet with running water!
However, we got up early and took our showers in the morning. I didn’t realize how your body reacted to standing on a boat for 30 minutes and being on a boat like I had been. When I took my shower the next morning, I still had the sensation of being on that water taxi, listing and swaying, and literally almost lost my balance in the shower. But no problem about falling – there was nowhere to go! That sensation actually lasted for a few days! Breakfast was served about 7a, and we got down there about 7:15a, thinking we had at least 15 minutes to grab something. We again asked the concierge to call us a cab. I guess we should have specified what TIME we wanted the cab, as we were only about 5 minutes away. They hung up and said the cab would be there in 5 minutes! Oh crap – missed breakfast again! I quickly ran in there and grabbed what I could in a few napkins and by the time I ran out, Lorna was packing the suitcases into the taxi!