We stayed with pirates in Venice.

And the saga continues…

Sarah and I arrived by train in Venice around 3pm to a beautiful sunny day. As soon as we walked out the door of the train station I was greeted by the sparkling blue Grand Canal lined with brightly colored pink, orange and yellow buildings.

First view of Venice

For the first two nights of our stay in Venice, we had to stay at a hotel off the island (in a town called Marghera) since the only good hostel we could find was booked for those nights, so we had to take a bus from the main island to where we were staying. Once we checked into our hotel, we decided to explore Marghera a little while waiting for the next bus (they only came once an hour). We discovered that Marghera has 1 restaurant, 1 grocery store and 1 gelateria. Quite the thrilling town.  The bus finally came and once we got back onto the island we decided to go to the Piazza San Marco. On the way we crossed the Rialto, one of the famous bridges that crosses the Grand Canal. We saw the Basilica of San Marco and walked around the Piazza where we went insome shops and saw amazing Murano glass chandeliers. Begin obsession with these chandeliers. I would probably give up my first born child for one of them. Kidding, but that’s how much I want one. After walking around for a while, we decided to get dinner. We found this cute little restaurant with the most friendly waiters and had amazing quattro formaggio pasta. We were pretty tired after dinner so we just went back to the hotel and watched James Bond in Italian (and understood probably 10 words).

View from the Rialto of the Grand Canal at night

The next morning we woke up bright and early to catch the bus into Venice. We had read in a guidebook that if you take the Vaporetto Route 1 then you get a tour of the Grand Canal. Vaporettos are essentially large water taxis. They are Venice’s form of public transportation. Best public transportation ever. We decided to take this from the Piazzelle Rome to Piazza San Marco. We saw numerous gondolas, churches and historical landmarks on our boat ride. We were really able to marvel at the architecture. What I think is so cool is that in most places the water literally goes up to the door. There is no land between the buildings and the canal. It’s such a crazy/cool thing to see. We then went in the Basilica of San Marco which was absolutely gorgeous. Inside, the whole ceiling is made of gold mosaic. The outside of the church is covered with intricate carvings and exquisite paintings.

San Marco Basilica

We next decided to go to the Accademia Gallery which had some cool Renaissance and religious art but felt a little repetitive after a while. Then going for a completely different type of art we went to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. We lucked out because it just happened to be “pay what you like” day and we had arrived in the 2 hour window for it. So we paid 2 euros to get in instead of the regular 12. I liked this museum better than the Accademia because I prefer modern art. After getting our fair share of Picasso, Ernst and Kandinsky, we finished the museum right in time for dinner. We decided to go back to our hotel, freshen up, get dressed up and go out for dinner and then to one of the famous bars after. Well, this plan failed. We get back to our hotel without a problem, however when we went to catch the bus back, it left us! We had been at the stop and the bus pulled up, stopped, opened the doors and then slammed them right as we were halfway in. At which point we banged on the doors but accomplished nothing, as the bus driver drove off, almost with us hanging out the doors. We realized that if we waited for the next bus we wouldn’t have enough time in the city to make it back for the last bus of the night. After standing in shock at the bust stop for a good 5 minutes we decided (well, we had no choice) to go the 1 restaurant in the town of Marghera. We walked in and saw some Americans that we’d briefly talked to the previous night in our hotel. Begin friendship. Two of the boys decide to come sit with us and explain that they’re from Pennsylvania but are studying abroad in Croatia and visiting Italy on a weekend trip. As the night went on, more and more people on their trip began to join us. We all split a bottle of wine and were at the restaurant for a good 3 hours just hanging out and having fun. We also befriended the one waiter who spoke English and used him as our translator. After we finally got the hint the restaurant was closing, we went back to the hotel and hung out on the balcony off our room. Before calling it a night, we exchanged contact info and some of them are even coming to visit us this weekend in London!

The next morning we checked out of our hotel and moved into our hostel on the actual island of Venice, which was much more convenient. Now here’s where the real experience begins. We followed directions to our hostel, which had a private bridge straight to the door of it. We buzzed in and while waiting for a reply, a guy suddenly sticks his head out the window above us and says “Ello! Do you have a reservation?” After the dumbfounded looks on our face finally left we said yes and he buzzed us in. We go upstairs to be greeted by the same guy, who introduces himself as James and we immediately realize looks just like Orlando Bloom from Pirates of the Caribbean. And, to add to his pirate looks, he talks to us and we realize he speaks just like a pirate too. He looks to be about our age and explains to us that him and four other guys own the hostel. After exchanging “what have we gotten ourselves into” looks, me and Sarah pay the rest of our deposit and move in with the pirates. We meet them all, realize they are all college age guys, and they explain to us they are from Australia.

This is what James looked like

After dropping our luggage in a 10 bed room, Sarah and I hopped on a vaporetto to Murano, the glass blowing island. We walked around the island, visited the Museum of Glass Blowing, had a guy show us how to make glass hearts and butterflies and did lots of shopping! I bought some of the most beautiful glass souvenirs there. Oh and let’s not forget how I lusted over the hundreds of glass chandeliers. That night we decided to go out with the guys who owned the hostel. They took us to Frulala, a smoothie and fruity drink hut/outdoor bar, which was really cool.

Glass Star on Murano

We reserved our last day in Venice as a shopping day. We also rode a gondola across the canal because we couldn’t afford to pay 80 euros for a fancy one. We went to a few little outdoor markets and shops all over Venice where I bought even more souvenirs for my family. That night we just stayed in and hung out with people in the hostel since we had an early flight back to London the next morning.

So there you have it…the three part account of my fall break! I wish I could write about everything but I tried to condense it! I loved Italy. It’s such a beautiful country with such an amazing culture full of love and food (and love of food). I hope to one day go back and explore even more of it!

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