Italy 21: – Around Venice

This post is about the sights that most people come to see when they go to Venice.  I’m the weird one who likes to sit at home and watch the goings-on of daily life around me, but I’m okay with that.  We couldn’t go to Venice and not see the sights, though, so on the day after the “stay inside and wait the water out ” day we found ourselves in heaven walking around with beautiful weather and even more beautiful views.

We took a vaporetto from place to place and I just took pictures of things I thought were beautiful or interesting.  I was listening to Rick Steves’ audio guide/tour of the Line 1 Grande Canal ride, so some of these houses have stories behind them.  I couldn’t tell you a thing about them now, so be sure to listen to that audio guide if you ever visit Venice.  The whole city has a fascinating story.  (Note:  the pictures I took during one part of this day came out very gloomy so I played around with the coloring on my kids’ horrible PC laptop that I’m forced to use during our PCS transition.  I, in no way, think these pictures look great, but I assure you, they look better than the blah gray they looked before I edited.  I rarely edit photos… I’m too lazy to.  But these were in need of some TLC.)

_JEN4731 _JEN4735 _JEN4739 Water Ambulances in action:_JEN4742

While in Venice I had the boys watching for specific things around town. They could get points for seeing specific things like an ambulance boat, a police boat, a gondolier with a red tassled-hat, etc.  I had every intention of creating a bingo sheet before we left home, but never made time to, so I improvised with a “points” game.  The first person to get so many points got two scoops the next time we had gelato.  Below is a police boat, one of the items they were constantly on the look-out for._JEN4843

_JEN4811 _JEN4725 _JEN4727 _JEN4728

Everywhere we went we had to stop and see what jerseys were for sale… “Messi Messi Messi!!!”_JEN4800

There were several highlights of this day, including beautiful weather, simply being in Venice, and later on, our gondola ride.  But the following pictures show another one of our highlights: a glass-blowing demonstration in Murano, an island just off of Venice.  This gentleman gave us a fantastic show, for only five Euros, and those Euros were taken off the price of anything we purchased from their shop.  Basically, a free show!Starred Photos10 _JEN4840Our 2012 Christmas Ornament!!  (At the bottom of this post you can see all of our priceless ornaments, which happen to be floating along on a barge across the Atlantic Ocean right now.  We won’t get to see these for the 2012 Christmas Season.)
_JEN4835

The Rialto Bridge is a must-see in Venice, and we were finally able to see it without rain on this day.  We got off the vaporetto on the other side of the bridge, walked across, shopping and oohhing-and-aahhhing over all the trinket-stores along the bridge.  We walked around to this side of the bridge because it affords the best photo-op._JEN4864 This photo was taken from the center of the bridge.  The sun was sparkling on the water!_JEN4875 The only red-tassled gondolier we saw all week!_JEN4883

A view of St. Mark’s Square as seen from a vaporetti.  Notice the two columns just left of center…_JEN4907 Inside part of St. Mark’s Square.  Do you remember the pictures from Acqua Alta? Remember those raised platforms we were walking on to stay out of the knee-deep water?  Here they are again!_JEN4915 Here are the two columns I just mentioned two photos above… now as seen from inside St. Mark’s Square._JEN4921 Pigeons and pigeon feeding are famous, though gross, attractions in the square._JEN4932 After we took the above photos we walked a few more feet and turned around to see the most beautiful thing… St. Mark’s Basilica was glowing and shining in all its golden glory. Because we had the kids with us and we had lost an entire day of sight-seeing due to Acqua Alta, we never got to go inside.  Next visit…_JEN4937

Okay, here’s a story…  We budgeted very carefully for this trip.  I had worked the numbers several times and did a really good job of paying for what I could ahead of time, setting aside the money we’d need for things that we knew we’d have to pay for once we arrived, and I did great budgeting for gas money.  When it came to food, I under-budgeted by quite a bit.  Even with us having all breakfasts in our apartments, eating food we had brought along, and even with us eating lunch at restaurants that were quite affordable (relatively speaking) we still went over budget by several hundred dollars in this category.

Fortunately I had prepared for this as a possibility so we weren’t strapped (or forced to eat poptarts for dinner) but it was sort of frustrating.  So, if you’re going to go to Italy, plan to spend at least 12 Euros per person (including babies) per meal that you intend to eat in a restaurant.  They charge a fee to just sit down in the restaurant, which I was prepared for, but I somehow missed that each meal was at least 12 Euros.  So, multiply that by six people times seventeen dinners and then convert that into dollars and you’re spending about $1600… on dinners alone.  So, I under-budgeted.  A little.  (There were some nights we were fortunate to find less expensive places, but I wish I had over-budgeted rather than under-budgeted.)

When it came time to enjoy our last few days in Italy we came upon the Hard Rock in Venice.  (We certainly didn’t stumble upon it… we were on a hunt for it, per my husband’s fascination.)  Our food envelope was running dry but my gondola envelope was still full. (Yes, I actually had specific envelopes of cash I carried in my super-secret money belt.  I’m a Dave Ramsey nerd.)  I felt we had to make a decision:  eat at Hard Rock and forego the gondola ride or eat cheap and ride the gondola.

Matt was willing to just take his picture with the Hard Rock behind him so that we could ride the gondola but I didn’t want him to miss out on a meal he had looked so forward to. We decided to eat here and that meal turned out to be one of the best meals we ate while on our trip.  It was really good.
_JEN4941 My oldest baby and me eating at Hard Rock!IMG_3651A night view… my memories from this moment were that Matt came out after making his t-shirt purchase and told me that we were now going to enjoy a gondola ride!  He knew how badly I wanted to take that ride and that I’d regret it for the rest of my life if we didn’t take a do it.  _JEN4943

We walked around until we found a gondolier that we liked.  This is the way to select the right gondolier… go to the area you want to see, {I preferred back canals to the Grande Canal} and talk to gondoliers.  Ask where they go, what they take you to see, and if they stay in the back canals or go into the large ones.  We ended up with the perfect guy.  I turned the first one down because he wasn’t wearing the black and white traditional attire… I wanted the whole experience!

IMG_3656 _JEN4997 The Doges Palace at night.  We had toured that two days prior during the day. (We selected our gondolier from outside St. Mark’s so we were able to see the Doges Palace as he was getting us to the smaller canal.)_JEN4996 St. Mark’s Square_JEN4995Along the way our gondolier took us by Casanova’s house as well as Marco Polo’s house. Until we prepared and studied for our trip I had no idea Casanova was Venetian.

_JEN4970 _JEN4966 See the bridge spanning between two buildings in the image below?  That is the Bridge of Sighs and it connects the Doges Palace to the prison.  Legend has it that many a convict crossed that bridge, paused for a last glance at Venice and its freedoms, and sighed.  Hence the name, Bridge of “Sighs.”

We got to cross that bridge during our tour a few days before this gondola ride._JEN4976 _JEN4980 _JEN4982 Matt's iphone1

Our gondola ride was 80 Euros and worth every single penny.  I don’t regret splurging even the tiniest bit and I really would have regretted it had we not gone for it!

Nothing tops a perfect Italian day better than gelato!  Even though our Parker isn’t much of a sweets-eater, he still tried a little chocolate… I love his messy little face!  The main reason I’m putting this picture in is because you can see the bandage on his thumb.   He had sucked his thumb so much on this trip that he actually made it bleed.  I remember he was on my back in the Ergo while we walked home from the gelato shop near our apartment when Bailey said, “Mom, Parker’s thumb is bleeding.”  I said, “OK, I’ll look at it when we get home.”  He said, “It’s really bleeding,” and I told Bailey that there was very little I could do until we got home.

As soon as I got him home I realize it really was bleeding and pretty bad!IMG_0969He was okay once he had a bandage on it and for the next five weeks I left a one on.  His thumb-sucking days are over and, as sad as I am to see him outgrow such a cute habit, I’m glad it didn’t stick around much past this age.  I know that many kids have a really hard time breaking this habit.  His was broken for him…

What I think we’re doing today:

By golly, I think we’re sans children today!  Matt and I have been with our precious cargo around the clock for several weeks and look forward to a little break!  Today we are going to visit (and stay the night) with some life-long pre-military friends!  We can’t wait to catch up with Anna and David!  The boys may just survive a nigh or two without us, spending some time with Nana and Papa.  I think we’ll all have fun!

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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2 Responses to Italy 21: – Around Venice

  1. Joleen Hyatt says:

    Yes, the kids survived ~ only one broken collar bone! Poor Bailey. :o(

  2. Pingback: Parker’s THREE! | thehamricks

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