Our first stop on our month long vacation was Venice. We left for our first cruise in Venice, but we spent a few days there first. We absolutely loved it...but didn't love our hotel so much. Sam booked our hotel online through a Groupon-like offer...never doing that again! The hotel was pretty bad. The room was gross, and we didn't have a private bathroom. We had to walk across the dining room to get to the bathroom. Sam was walking over one morning to brush his teeth, and an older lady apparently didn't realize she needed to bring a towel with her from the room. Sam regrettably witnessed her grabbing a paper tablecloth in the dining room to wrap around herself as she paced to her room...haha. But other than that, our stay there was amazing.
I remember a few years back someone told me Venice was a dump, and to not bother with it. That person couldn't have been more wrong. A lot of the buildings were old and a little dilapidated, but they were BEAUTIFUL! Maybe it is just the artist in me, but I found incredible beauty in Venice. It was definitely one of my favorite cities we visited. It is such a unique city. Sam and I really enjoyed exploring the cobblestone walkways. One thing we sadly did not do while we were there was ride a gondola. We really wanted to, but they were SO expensive! (Even the cheapest ones for a short ride were about $200.) The gondoliers are incredibly talented, and it is considered an art. If we had more than just two people we definitely would have ridden one, as we could have shared the cost. We ended up taking a helicopter tour instead, which was just over half the cost!
|LOVE the various building hues!|
|No roads = no cars|
|About to embark on our helicopter ride. Excuse my hair...it was out of control.|
|View from the air! Excuse the Holga-esque photo.|
|Pretty sure he enjoyed himself in that helicopter...haha|
|In Piazza San Marco they had these little music groups playing all over the square. They'd switch to another band as soon as one finished. My favorite was their rendition of "Con te Partiro". I couldn't help but think of Andrea Bocelli singing it.|
|Piazza San Marco (which Sam pointed out is in The Italian Job and Casino Royale)|
|A Venetian parking lot|
|Sorry for the blurry photo...One thing I learned while traveling in Europe...people do not understand how DSLR's work. We really tried hard to ask someone who had one to take our picture, but it didn't always happen.|
|Dozens of bridges throughout the city where you can score views like this|
|Not much yard work for these families|
|It's fun taking the water taxi to see the architecture lit up at night.|
We also were able to ride the ferry to Murano. I grew up around a lot of glass blowers, so I have wanted to go to Murano for a long time. For a little while I worked for my dad's glass art magazine and gallery. We once hosted a Murano glass artist named Afro Celotto. While he was visiting, he actually came to my birthday party, as well. He didn't speak much English, but he was very nice. So when we knew we were going to Murano, we decided to pay him a visit. We got a hold of him at his gallery, and he did remember us, and especially thought highly of my dad. After taking us out for some gelato* (more on gelato to come), he invited us to come back to Murano the next day to take a tour of his studio and watch him blow glass. He is an incredibly talented artist and we were very excited! Check out his website to see some of his amazing pieces HERE. You might not be able to tell on the website, but those pieces he blows are HUGE! As you can imagine, it was incredibly hot in the studio. Being July on the Mediterranean, it was ridiculously hot outside to start with, and adding in a few super hot furnaces...yea it was roasting.
He also sent us home with a carafe for my dad. We did not have room in our luggage for it...and since this was the beginning of a month long trip, it wouldn't necessarily be safe in our luggage anyway. So we had quite the ordeal trying to ship it home from Venice, but it worked out in the end!
|Afro and me in his studio|
|Venice from our cruise ship|
|Last views of Venice|
|Let the first cruise begin....|
*Gelato side note...I have always been a big fan of course. There is a gelato place in Los Gatos called Dolce Spazio, and it is great. I have been there a lot...but it does not compare to gelato in Italy. I had amazing gelato in pretty much every Mediterranean city we went to. I even had it for breakfast before going to the Vatican...haha.