Sister and I arrived in Venice around 9:30pm; it was already dark. We knew our hotel was definitely not within walking distance of the train station, and since Venice is a collection of islands, there was no subway. We had thought we would take a cab. Outside the train station, we found a little taxi stand and asked how much it would be to take us to San Marco Plaza. When the worker told us €60, I politely thanked him and headed back into the train station. I connected to the wifi and looked up what the heck to do. Sure, it was a water taxi, a boat, but we weren’t going that far at all. I did some research online in the train station and asked my mom; we decided the water bus was probably the best option. We purchased two tickets at the ticket booth and boarded the boat when it arrived. It took forever to get all the way around to San Marco, dodging other boats and stopping for five minutes at each stop along the way. The Venetian streets were laid out like a maze, but somehow I was able to navigate them better than any other streets before. We got to the hotel quickly; two little beds and a bathroom, but that’s all we needed. It was cute from the outside, and we only had to walk up two flights of stairs to get to our room.
The next morning, we had a lovely buffet-style breakfast at the hotel. We had our day basically all planned out. First off, a boat tour visiting three islands. The tour advised us to cover our knees and shoulders so we could enter churches. That made us a little hot (but in the end I was happy because my outfit was really cute for pictures). Luckily, the tour left right down the street from the hotel so we couldn’t even get lost on our way there. We waited around a bit for our boat, but we were definitely not disappointed. Our tour guide spoke four languages— Italian, French, Spanish, and English. Sometimes it was hard to hear her over the noises of the boat, but she talked about every place we passed in each language. It was incredible! The first place we stopped was at the island of Murano, famous for its glass blowing. With our tour, we got a tour of one of the glass blowing factories. It was approximately thirty jillion degrees in the room, but it was worth it to see a man literally turn sand into an extremely detailed horse. They showed us around the stock room—as if we could afford (monetarily or in suitcase space) to buy a glass figurine, plate, or a chandelier. After the tour, we still had around fifteen to look around the island. It was stunning. The buildings were beautiful, the water was clear. It felt like a scene from a movie. I felt giddy just to stand there and admire the town.
We boarded a new boat with the same tour group and headed to the island of Borano, famous for lacework. Along the way we enjoyed the breeze and sea mist while we tried to hear the tour guide. This island was larger and the houses were even cuter. We explored the more residential part, noting every house that was for sale and the ones with the cute plants in the window. Then, we headed to the shops. Lace! I’m not a big fan of lace in general, but watching them craft it with their hands was impressive. Several shops had walls with lace swatches that were hundreds of years old. One store had an upstairs full of lace-detailed dresses. Remind me to get my wedding shoes from there.
Next up was the island of Torcello. Do you want to know how many people live in Torcello? Eleven. Most of them are older and retired there, one of them is young and performs on the street there since it’s so big for tourists. We had about an hour, and our tour guide recommended we eat lunch or visit the church in the center of the island. Sister and I decided on lunch. We stopped at a cute little restaurant where I ordered a Coke and lasagna. I absolutely hated the lasagna. There was so much cheese (and I love cheese. I never thought there was such a thing as too much); it made me feel almost nauseous. Sister enjoyed her meal, lucky her, and we strolled around a bit before it was time to head back to the boat. Even though I didn’t love my meal, I loved the quaintness of the island and the simplicity of life there.
We rode the boat back to the main island as our tour came to an end. A giant cruise ship passed by us and all the people on the deck waved to us. After we reached land, Sister and I had about an hour and a half before our walking tour started so we went back to the hotel. With my expert navigation skills, we got there quickly and had time to dab away our sweat and freshen up. I even managed to successfully get us to the starting point of our tour!
While waiting in line to receive our nifty radios and ear piece, we chatted with a Chinese who was also from Texas and a British woman and her daughter who expressed their concern over the flooding in Texas. I thought we had made tour friends, but once we got our supplies, we were split up. The other group’s tour guide was wearing cargo shorts and flip flops; ours was wearing a suit. I don’t know about how the other guide’s tour was, but I think we definitely got a good tour.
It was a walking tour through the streets during the hottest part of the day, and of course our suited guide recognized that. He ushered us into the shade before telling us a thorough explanation of each street, plaza, or area, full of jokes and snarky remarks about the tourists. I enjoyed the tour and the group; the walking and the heat wasn’t even that bad! I got to see beautiful streets in Venice and hear about them from a native Venetian! Our tour concluded with a gondola ride! After waiting in an extra long line, we boarded with another family and quickly navigated through the nasty green water. We soared around the corners. Our gondola driver (is that what you call him?) winked at me, but considering his beer gut and cigarette smoking as paddled, I didn’t think it was going anywhere.
Sister and I were exhausted and sweaty, so we went back to the hotel. Let’s note for a second that we wore hot clothes so we could enter churches, yet we didn’t enter any! Ha! We rested, freshened up, and then headed for dinner. A cute little place was just down the street, so we hopped in there to eat. I had a specific pasta that definitely has a name that I definitely should research. It was cheese stuffed and delicious! After dinner, we walked around until we found gelato. With our gelato in hand, we began walking back to the hotel but somehow we had gotten turned around in the maze-like streets. Every restaurant was open with men standing out front ushering customers in. The man in front of one, leaned over and pretended to take a bite from Sister’s ice cream. Sister’s horrified reaction and yanking away of her ice cream was clearly the funniest thing he had ever seen; so much so that when we stumbled upon the same restaurant five minutes later, he noticed and laughed at us again and pointed to her ice cream. The other men were more civil; they simply asked us to dance and persisted with why not?s when we politely declined. Maybe because you’re an old man and I’m just trying to enjoy some gelato in a beautiful city?
Back at the hotel, I had a lovely chat with the desk clerk to figure out the best way to get to the train station in the morning. He let me know the buses would be running, and I definitely needed to give myself at least an hour. Sister and I had a train out of a mainland station, so we had to get from the Venice station to mainland in time for that train at 8:02am.
It was a little and rushed and complicated in the morning, but we made it on time. From the mainland station, we went to Milan. In Milan, we went to the airport to catch a flight to Barcelona. Because we were flying on Ryanair, a low budget airline similar to WOW, we had opted to be “Business Plus” fliers. This was mainly because it included a free checked back, so flying regular with a checked back would’ve been more expensive. Sister and I tried so hard to get help at the Ryanair desk, but the woman kept dismissing us like we were stupid. We knew exactly what we wanted; let us please check in. Our flight is very soon. Eventually, she let her colleague help us, and she promptly pointed us to the check in desk. It wasn’t so hard.
We got to be in the shorter Business Line to check our bags, even though we still had to take them over to the special “odd sized” luggage drop. Sister and I got over that quickly when we literally got to walk to the front of the security line thanks to our business plus status. I love security in European, even though the guards scare me, at least I don’t ever have to take off my shoes.
Our flight got delayed, which meant that we got an hour more of sitting in the airport with a bachelor party! WOOHOO! They were the most obnoxious people I’d ever seen in real life. It was like jersey shore in their matching “game over” t-shirts. It wasn’t so bad. I had some really good pizza and people watched. When it came time to board, we got the special treatment. We lined up first, and they opened the doors up for us and all the other business plussers (older men who apparently all knew each other). We walked down the stairs and waited at the bottom in front of glass doors. I realized that we were going to walk out to the plane—SWEET. We waited for a long time, but finally a nice little flight attended walked us along the tarmac and up the stairs onto the plane.