Sunday, October 16, 2011


On Tuesday, my roommates (Courtney Bradley and Jessica Jenkins), one of our trainers (Axel Riegler), and I traveled to Venice, Italy.  We left around 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m.  The drive was scheduled to take five hours, but some missed turns changed the road trip into about a seven- or eight-hour journey.  We had to pay nearly 50 in tolls because we turned around on the highway so many times and went through some of the same toll booths about three times each.  After the never-ending car ride, we finally made it to Venice!

We parked the car at a nearby parking garage and started walking around Venice.  The smell of salt water reminded me of home!  The first thing on everybody's mind was food, so we decided to eat at an Italian restaurant overlooking the Grand Canal.  We probably should have looked at the prices on the menu before sitting down at our table.  I ordered a small bottle of wine, of course.  That was one of the main "To-Do" items on my list: try Italian wine.  For a small bottle of wine, which is two glasses, it cost 17.  The bottle ended up being more expensive than my actual meal.  It was nice to see seafood on the menu because in Austria, there is no seafood, unless it is frozen section of the market.  As a girl that grew up near the beach, I love seafood!  I ordered Spaghetti alle vongole (Spaghetti with white clams).  It tasted really good but I feel I could make a better version of the dish.  It definitely was not worth the money.  Jessica ordered a pasta dish with tomato sauce, while Axel ordered pizza.  Courtney, the one of the family that doesn't try anything new, ordered Gnocchi with Gorgonzola.  I had a taste of her dish and it was delicious!  Courtney liked it as well, which seemed surprising to all of us at the table.  After we ate, we got our bill and it was 104.  That first meal killed our wallets and I don't think we were planning on going back there again.

After dinner, we walked around Venice some more and went into all the little shops.  We found that nearly everything was expensive.  Once the sun started going down, we were determined to find a place to stay for the night.  We searched around Venice for the cheapest hotel that would accompany a group of four people.  After failing several times, we finally found a place that had a quad-room vacant.  Once we paid for the room, we had to walk all the way back to the car to grab our luggage.  After we walked back to the hotel and put our luggage in the room, we decided to go walking and get some drinks.  We bought some beer and wine and then we went to a little bar known for making fresh fruit frozen drinks.  Jessica ordered a Bloody Mary and I ordered a Pomegranate Vodka frozen drink.  Axel showed how tough he was as he ordered a Pa Colada.  We returned home around midnight or 1 a.m.

The next morning, I got up early to run around Venice.  I was hoping that the tourists had not already packed the streets, but I was wrong.  It was difficult running in Venice as I had to dodge so many people.  After my run, I returned to the hotel to wake up my children (Courtney and Jessica).  They did not like my way of waking them up because I ripped open the curtains of our windows and shined the morning sunlight in their faces.  Once everyone was ready, we went downstairs of the hotel to eat breakfast.  After the meal, we began our adventure around Venice at 10 a.m.  We walked and walked...and walked.  I was determined to see the Basilica di San Marco, but it was a challenge to find it since we did not have a map.  We took a break at 1 p.m. to have lunch at another local Italian restaurant, but this time, we looked at the prices before we entered.  Jessica and I ordered pizza.  Axel ordered Gnocchi with mixed cheeses, similar to what Courtney ordered the night before.  Courtney ordered a Bolognese pasta dish.  We spent at least an hour or so resting at the restaurant as we were trying to post-pone the rest of our walk to the Basilica.

After asking several people along the way, we finally made it to the Basilica.  It was a crowded area and we were all very tired from our long walk.  There were a lot of pigeons everywhere.  Jessica and I thought it would be fun to interact with these pigeons so we held bread out in our hands.  All of sudden, a swarm of pigeons landed on our hands, arms, and shoulders.  Jessica and I were both praying that none of the pigeons would leave any "gifts" on our clothes.
After visiting San Marco for awhile, we decided to head back to the hotel, but we didn't know exactly where our hotel was located.  This made it difficult to ask locals for directions.  We just knew that our hotel was north of where we were.  Using the compass on Axel's iPhone, we continued walking in a northern direction.  On our way, we ran into another Venice attraction, the Rialto Bridge.

After observing the bridge, we proceeded to walk home.  Suddenly, we approached a bridge that we walked across as we entered Venice on the first day.  Smiles came over all of our faces and a sigh of relief was seen in our body language.

We arrived near our hotel around 7 p.m., so we decided to have dinner at a local restaurant.  With a tight budget, we chose a place that had pizza and other little snacks.  We all ordered kebabs and walked toward the back of the restaurant where there was outside seating.  The room was filled with these large, lit-up lily pads, some bar stools and bar tables.  We pulled a bar table up to the lily pad and set our food on the table.  We used a bench located under the lily pad to step up onto the lily pad itself.  We enjoyed our kebabs on our lily pad seats and watched the Italian news channel on a TV on the wall.  As people gathered into the room to enjoy their own meals, Courtney, Jessica, and I looked around us.  People we were sitting on the benches that were located under the lily pads and they had their food placed on the lily pad, which we discovered was a table.  We must have looked silly sitting on the table!  We were three Americans (Well, one American and two Canadians) sitting on the table in an Italian restaurant, eating kebabs, and watching the Italian news channel, which we had know idea what the news was saying!  After our faces grew red of embarrassment, we slowly crept down from the lily pad table and proceeded to sit on the benches like all the other Italian locals surrounding us. 

At the end of the night, we decided to return home to Austria the next day.  We did not plan how expensive Venice would be, actually we didn't particularly plan the trip at all.  I think for our next trip, we will plan better and not eat at such an expensive restaurant the first night...and we will try not to sit on the tables at the next city we visit!


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