On our way out - to Venice we go!
-No joke, it was about 110 degrees crazy hot in this photo!-
Knowing we had very little time to see all the fine Italian cities during our week in Tuscany, we decided that Venice would be our final stop for a day trip en route to Milan where we would overnight and catch a plane to Iceland (via Copenhagen). If you want to count countries whose soil we touched, the Denmark flight stopover makes 8!
Venice, a place so close to the hearts of many and one of our favorites from our trip 8 years ago and Jordan's trip three years ago, was thankfully still standing. It still has not been sucked into the sea, and it's charming streets, secret passages, and canal thoroughfares provide endless opportunities to get lost without really being lost. You'll always find yourself somewhere in Venice. On the day we arrived, we disembarked from our train with all of our backpacks and belongings into a blistering crazy heat that immediately draws sweat from the tiniest of pores in your body. We found a local shop that also allowed you to rent space to leave your pack for a day, and took off to explore Venice. Not 300 feet later did we find our first and most marvelous stop, the Magnum Ice Cream Bar Shop.
Not only could you choose the inside of your bar, but you got to choose all the toppings. We spent at least 30 minutes deciding the favorite flavors and absorbing all the air conditioning. As far as Izzy was concerned, this could have been the last place we stopped in Venice and it would have been the greatest!
Since ice cream melts if you don't eat it, our departure coincided with our full tummies and we headed out again to find favorite streets and piazzas that interlock the winding pathways. It is simply marvelous to be in a car-less world with everyone on foot or picking up a ride from the water taxi or gondolier. Of course, these are both expensive propositions for the tourists, and while you are probably better off if you find a Venetian with a boat he'll let you use for the day, it's still worth the euros to melt into the seat of a gondola for a 30 minute ride around town. We chose a departure point off the Grand Canal, admittedly the MOST touristy place in Venice and as all of Italy is on vacation in August, it is one of the few places with open restaurants. The ride on the gondola isn't really about seeing the sites-you are frankly several feet below street level and what you see are the bottoms of buildings until you get out to a framed view of the Grand Canal or the sea on the east. You also see, if you are looking closely, the small sunlit windowsills above you and the business transactions that happen at doorways because it all happens on the canals.
-A sunlit afternoon on a second story in Venice-
I also like listening to the gondoliers talk to their compatriates in other boats, all the while avoiding the ancient stone walls with the slightest of oar and a foot to push the boat off from it's seemingly inevitable bruising.
Having wound our way through on foot and boat to the east coast of Venice, we took in St. Marks Square for music and another hydrating rest stop before braving the 200-person water taxi. These things are surely over their carrying limit, and while I would never compare our trip on the water to that of the millions who are risking their lives and loves to cross to Europe from Syria, this was a hellish, hot and miserable ride between several stops before we got back to the train station.
-Water taxis on the Grande Canal-
Another wait for an Italian train gave us a chance to stop and simply absorb the activity around the station, grab a drink and rest before our next jaunt to Milan.
I can still say that Venice is one of my favorite places but I am also equally happy to visit it during any other season BUT summer. :)