Dine and Dash in Venice

Trip Start Mar 31, 2011
Trip End Jul 05, 2011

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Flag of Italy  , Veneto,
Friday, May 20, 2011

The train from Ljubljana to Venice was god awful. We boarded at 2:30 AM and found the main compartments totally full except for our 2 reserved seats. Thank goodness we had reservations! Apparently, the train is from Budapest to Venice with a stopover in Zagreb and Ljubljana, and it seemed to be rather popular. The train was definitely not set up to help passengers sleep-- all of the lights were on the whole time and the train made a massive racket on the tracks (mainly because the door between compartments would not close). Jenna and I were really prepared for most of the problems with our earplugs and eye masks, but we were not prepared for the freezing cold temperature of the train. Needless to say, not our most restful night.
We arrived in Venice at 7 AM and immediately started trying to figure out how to end up in Naples that night. Good thing we started early, because it turned out that both high speed trains to Naples were full, leaving only the slow train that takes FOREVER to get down the entire boot of Italy. OH WELL, thankfully we got to Venice so early that we had plenty of time to see the sights. The fact the the trains to Naples were booked made us pretty nervous (Naples is not on the main tourist route), so we decided to start checking on our other trains throughout Italy. The first problem we discovered is that the night train from Florence/Milan to Paris was already full (8 days in advance)!! Since we have to meet Adrienne in Paris on the 26th and have reservations in Florence on the 24th, this was sort of troubling. We wandered around for a while until we finally found a helpful man in an information booth, and he looked up all sorts of connections for us. SO, we are going to break up the journey with a night in either Geneva, Basil, or Lyon-- hopefully Geneva. Now we neeed to look at hostels there... Anyway, we went with our gut feeling and made reservations on all of our remaining trains in Italy-- Venice to Naples to Rome to Florence to Milan. Horray!
After storing our bags (for 8 Euros, I might add, which is about 3 times what we usually pay), we wandered around trying to find a helpful map. IMPOSSIBLE! I don't think a helpful map of Venice even exists! We paid 50 Euro cents for the worst map in all of the world. I took a picture of it because it was so ridiculous. Please notice the lack of street names on any of the streets...
By this point, we were pretty antsy to walk around Venice. The train station is right on the main canal, so the beautiful views begin the second you walk out of the station. We wandered around the streets (lost because of our useless map) until we arrived at San Marco's Piazza. The streets were totally deserted on the way to the square-- no tourists and all the shops were closed. This all changed the second we got near the square. The tourists started coming in on the bridges from every direction in giant hordes with their huge cameras and ridiculous hats.

We beat the crowds by about 5 minutes, so we were able to take some nice pictures and commandeer a bench to eat our picnic-- hard boiled eggs, bread, and cheese. We probably eat this combination of goodies for nearly half of our meals... It never seems to get old!
After people-watching for a while, we decided to see if the shops had opened to find some coffee. The shops were definitely open-- there were literally hundreds of tourist gift shops selling a huge assortment of awesome souvenirs. AND THEY WERE CHEAP, REALLY CHEAP! We definitely did not see that one coming. SO, those of you who don't get something from Zagreb will probably get something from Venice. Then we went to a little shop to get coffee, which turned out to be somewhat of a mess. The coffee was really delicious, and there were pigeons in the building, which we thought was hilarious. The FDA would have a cow in the US. When it came time to get the bill, we got pretty confused because she told us the total was 8 Euros! I ordered the coffees in Italian, so I know there was not a misunderstanding. Ordering coffee might be the easiest thing you can say in Italian, and she even repeated it back to me. Our coffee should have been 3 Euro, not 8. But apparently she did us a "favor" and gave us the big lattes, then charged us extra money because we drank them at a table instead of a bar, blah blah. She was definitely trying to screw us. This would not have been such a big problem if we had been to the ATM recently, but we literally had a handful of coins. So we left her 7 Euros in  10 and 5 cent pieces and ran away. 

We figured it was probably time to go to the ATM at this point, which was an adventure in and of itself because the streets were so crowded. You can probably see in all of our pictures how tightly we are clinging to our bags-- Venice is definitely a tourist trap. Also, it turns out that Jenna has a pretty low limit on how much she can withdraw in a day from the ATM, so it took us 3 tries to figure out how much she could take out. Very incompetent, but we stashed the money and cards successfully and went back to wandering around and buying souvenirs. Between the two of us, we took nearly 300 pictures of streets, canals, streets with canals, bridges over these canals, boats in the canals, so on... Then we took them all again with ourselves in front of the views! Venice is definitely beautiful, but we were ready to leave and escape the mob of tourists (which is easier said than done, because we had to run through them to catch our train). Plus, we had spent far too much money. 
Since our map sucked, we ran in the general direction of the train station and asked gondola drivers whenever we saw one in their little uniforms. We made it back pretty quickly, gathered our bags, and hopped on the horrifically long train to Naples. We have definitely had our fill of trains today. Will post about Naples soon! Ciao! 
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Aaron on

Venice!! COOL.... you can definitely see how it would be a huge tourist trap. Way to not pay that Italian bitch the 8 euros! She messed with the wrong American tourists.... hahaha.

ps that train ride sounds terrible.

Mom on

Venice...there is no city like it. Your photos are wonderful. I love all the colors and flowers. My mother (your late Grandma) is from Venice.

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