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Venice, Italy

Venice Italy - Day 2                   Day 1 - Day 3

This day it was Sandra's Birthday - we slept in late, then went out and looked around town.  We ventured out to the waterfront of the Grand Canal in San Marco, where there were a ton of tourists (but nothing compared to the hordes who would come later in the week - make sure to check the cruise ship schedules to know when it's okay to come up for air).  Here we had breakfast at Ristorante xxxx, where we had some amazingly good coffee (you won't find drip coffee in Venice, so make sure to order Americano because otherwise you may get a tiny drop of Espresso that is barely enough to wet your tongue), some mediocre omelettes, and the worst pizza we had in Venice.

We went through San Marco, taking photos wildly, getting lost a million times, and looking in dozens of shops, including many that contained Venice's famous masquerade masks, and Murano glassware.  We bought Sandra one of the masks, and scoped out some incredible oil paintings along the waterfront.

We sat and had drinks at one of the most incredible sidewalk cafes we've ever been to - in San Marco square, small quartets play live classical music for you as you bask in the monumental glory of Venice's most famous tourist attractions, the Doge's Palace and the ... Church.  We watched people feed the pigeons (no shortage of them here for sure), listened to the music, and half-laughed, half-cried when we saw the bill for our drinks - about 12 Euros apiece.  Through the window we could see the Gran Caffe, the most famous restaurant in Venice, with it's magnificent chandeliers, where I planned to take us for dinner that evening, and across from us was Caffe xxx, the oldest cafe in the city, first opening it's doors in 1722 - yes, that's right - 1722.  Our country isn't even that old!

Next we headed down to the Hotel Gritti Palace, where the Gondolas were moored, ready to take a Gondola complete with a Serenade - what better thing to do for Sandra's birthday?  We had pre-booked our Gondola Tour online, since we knew they would be in high demand.  We waited in line for 20 minutes for all the gondolas to get in, then right before it was our turn the guy tells us that they're all sold out.  We showed him our pre-reserved voucher, and he told us everyone in line had pre-paid and had the same voucher, and that they just didn't have enough gondolas.  Of course, we freaked, since we had reserved in advance for just this reason, and we (along with many other people) engaged in a screaming match with the gondolier for quite a while, but what could they do - they had no gondolas left.

There was another serenade at 8:30PM (our original reservation was for the 7:30PM serenade), so we walked over to the Hotel Gritti Palace and enjoyed the soft live piano music while we sipped some fantastic drinks, and gazed at the gondolas over the grand canal while the sun started to set.  If you have to wait, this is the place to do it.  We got the bill and almost died, as we shelled out 21 Euros for a Vodka Tonic, and 18 Euros for a glass of house wine.  In Venice, it's good to ask first, we found out.

At 8:30PM we boarded our Gondola, and set off down the canal.  Each gondola held 6 people, so the four of us shared it with only 2 other people (which works out well because you can take photos of each other that way).  We were disappointed that our gondolier didn't do the singing, but rather about ten gondolas all paddled down the canal together, with one guy in the middle singing and playing the accordian, but it was so wonderful we quickly forgot any disappointment.  The Gondola serenade set us back about $60 USD for 50 minutes, was contrived, touristy, schitzy, and entirely wonderful.  No matter how much you're against the touristy things - you've got to do a Gondola Serenade at least once.  Something we'll always remember - so hopelessly romantic.  So romantic, in fact, that Leif proposed to Anna there on the boat (she said yes).

After floating down the canals of Venice - places you'd never see except by Gondola, making for great photo opportunities, we looked for a place to eat dinner.  I announced my suggestion of the Grand Caffe, which Sandra shot down, citing our "informal attire" (sportcoats and slacks) - hmmm....  Instead, we walked back to Castello, where we hit xxx Trattoria, one of many sidewalk trattorias in the vicinity, and one of the best.  We started our meal with one of our favorite drinks - the Capirinha (Brazil's national drink), the only place in Venice we found that made one, along with Basilico which is nearly as good, followed by some excellent pasta and fantastic dessert, including Tiramasu.  We ate until we almost popped, which was the norm on this trip for us...

Venice Travelogue Day 3                  Back to Day 1

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