Monday, 24 October 2016

If Venice is sinking, I'm going under

 If you don't know this reference, go youtube the song, now. Seriously though, it was the soundtrack of the weekend (not than any of the others had a choice).

So yet again, I found myself in the spontaneous act of booking a weekend trip out of the country.  When Matt proceeded to pitch the idea of heading to Italy the weekend before, I had no hesitations. After everything that has gone on here with school in Grenoble (as some of you may know) I have decided to take advantage of the last few months I have here and see as much of Europe as I can. It'd be easier to sit here and wish that things had gone differently and sit here counting down the days (honestly this still happens from time to time), but instead I have decided to take on a whirlwind of adventures in the next 8 weeks.

Back to Venice, where I spent this past weekend (if you haven't caught on yet).  Monday morning we met up at the gare once again and headed direction Italy. Leaving the country two weekends in a row? Yes, I know, how casual.  The journey was about nine and a half hours, including two transfers, and three trains in total.  Seems a little bit crazy for one weekend, I know, but the travelling actually gave me some down time to fit some work in (yes, contrary to popular belief I actually AM in school here...).

So we arrived in Italy around 6 pm which gave us (just) enough time to find our hostel before it became completely dark outside.  Google maps said a 15 minute walk from the train station to the hostel, so evidently it would take us a good hour and 15 minutes.

We were pleasantly surprised upon arriving at the hostel, a new experience for all of us.  We have a private room with four beds, and even had a beautiful terrace off to the side.

Friday night consisted of a drop of the bags and a search for some pizza (didn't prove too difficult, shocker).  We found a quaint little resto just a few blocks down from our hostel where we would soon indulge in pizza and red wine.

Not too shabby
After dinner we were headed back to the train station to pick up none other than, Elise!! We figured we had done the route once and we'd only need to give ourselves the 15 minutes google maps recommended to get there. Needless to say we were very very wrong. Swerving through the windy streets of Venice in the dark, even google maps got turned around and in this moment, offered us zero help.

We eventually made back the grand canal where the train station sits (thank goodness), and lucky for us Elise's train was delayed even more than we were trying to navigate the streets of Venezia.  Upon meeting her at the station we were happy to be reunited but were quick to warn her that it would be awhile until we found our way back...I won't even get you started on that one.

Fast forward to Saturday morning.  Day 2 was all about the strategic planning, we needed to decide exactly what you monuments we would agree upon visiting, as one full day in Venice is nearly not enough.

We all had a little bit of a different taste (which is one of the best things about travelling with a group), and decided on the Rialto Bridge, Basilica San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica), Doge's Palace, and of course, my favourite part of the trip that I had been dreaming of, a gondola ride along the canals.

The Rialto Bridge is one of busiest tourist spots in Venice, see for yourself just exactly why.

If this picture doesn't scream Venice, I don't know what does. Gondola boats to the left, taxi boats to the right, and the grand canal surrounded by the typical, old, coloured, Venetian buildings.

The entry to the staircase mounting up to the bridge if where you'll find your typical market in Venice, plenty of fish, in addition to clothes, fresh produce and everything in between.

Next we were onto the Piazza San Marco and Doge's Palace.  The Piazza San Marco, home to the Basilica San Marco, is the main public square in Venice, known as the social, regligious, and political centre of Venice (often referred to as simply la Piazza whereas every other centre in Venice is referred to campi- fields)..So it's an important spot, take the hint.

Piazza San Marco

We even happened to catch a Venetian bride!

The Basilica San Marco is the Roman Catholic cathedral church of Venice.  Although we were not able to enter due to time restrictions (you should've seen this line up), the outside was nonetheless, stunning.

Some mighty fine architecture ft. yours truly

Then right around the corner from the Basilica is Doge's Palace. A Venetian Gothic style palace, which one served as the home of the former supreme authority of Venice (very average living space as seen below), it is now opened as a historical site and art museum (since 1923).  Doge's Palace is one of the main landmarks for Venice as it sits right along the pier.

Hey MTV welcome to my crib
And last but not least, the gondola ride,  I don't know about you guys, but when I think of Venice, gondolas coasting through the waterways is the first thing that comes to my mind. This part of the day is definitely best recounted through less words and more pictures..

Looking out at the Rialto Bridge

Our lovely gondolier (I had to look this word up to be honest), and check out the detailing on my throne ;)

Seriously in my glory, thanks to my awesome pals for letting me have the throne :-)
After the Gondola we decided it was time to head back to the hostel to put our feet up for a bit before dinner.  But wait, it wouldn't be an attempt to get back to the hostel without getting lost would it now???

And that's where the Italian Opera fits into all of this. Yup, we just happened to stumble upon the opera, while looking for our way home.  It took all of 10 seconds of starring at each other to decide "Mhm we're going to an Opera tonight".  So we bought our tickets and off we went, vowing to return in 4 hours for the start of the show.

Of course, before the show came dinner..can't forget that Italian food now can we!! We enjoyed some lovely Italian pasta dishes (honestly no pasta will ever compare now).  One important thing to lookout for in Italy, and in other major tourist cities, is cover charge for dinner. Yes, its only 2-3 euros per person, but yes, you can find great food at restaurants in the city without a cover charge (that 8-12 euros per group could buy you another pitcher of wine, common now!!!).

Prosciutto filled tortellini 

Elise & 1

The lovely Julia and Matt
An we can't forget dessert...Gelato, third times (in one day) a charm??

So as our final dinner in Venice came to a close, it was time to head over to Opera to officially end our Italian weekend.  The opera was of a smaller production and took place in the Concert Hall, as opposed to the Opera House (unfortunately there were no productions going on in the grand theater this night).  This was a special kind of a opera, it was composed of a number of songs performed from a variety of operas, and was officially named Baroque and Opera. Now it can be seen as distracting or frowned upon by some, to take pictures during the show, however the only rule they had announced to was to turn off all flash when taking photographs, and that for the me was a green light (its obviously clear by now that I love to photo document everything). So here's a couple snaps of what I can officially call my first opera, and an authentic Italian one at that.

And with that, my time in Venice was concluded.  A weekend was definitely not nearly enough to see everything I wish to explore in Venice, but giving me a quick taste leaves me so very curious to see what else is has in store for me during my next visit.

Ciao, Italy. Until next time!

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