Below is a blog I posted when I returned from my first trip to Venice. On my second trip this year, my feelings about Venice intensified. The city is as mysterious as it is stunning.
Getting to Venice is not difficult, hop on a plane to any central European city and transfer to a small plane bound for the Marco Polo airport in Venice.
Once there, it took me a while to get my bearing, my nickname Wrong Way Rodal is well founded. I get lost easily and have a hard time with left and right, and we won't discuss North, South, etc.
At the Marco Polo airport, I wanted to get an ACTV 72 hour pass, that would allow me to take the bus to the center of town and more importantly would allow me to use the vaporetto at will.
I asked and received a blank stare, a finger pointing to a sea of faces, no kiosk selling anything, just tourists looking as lost as I was. One person actually answered in Italian, and since I spoke in English and don't speak Italian beyond the pleasantries, it presented a slight problem. But we smiled at each other and I thanked him in Italian. Grazie goes a long way but unfortunately not to a place that got me a ticket.
The fact that I spoke English, had this totally lost look on my face, was at an airport, lugging luggage behind me and hoping against hope someone would take me for a tourist. Nope, it didn’t happen, no one did. Odd that.
I walked a bit further, probably in a circle, although nothing looked familiar and I didn't get that- been there done that- the European Vacation 'look kids Big Ben' feeling.
Finally, I got lucky and bought the three day pass and took the bus that took me to Piazza Roma, the central hub where it would appear all travelers converge.
From there it was walking distance over a few bridges to the Boscolo Bellini hotel, just steps away from the Grand Canal in the Cannaregio district.
Going up and down the various bridges was a treat, the luggage thumping, bumping and groaning as the was person pulling the darn things. That would be me.
The area was perfect, the hotel however was not, at best it lacked a personality, however the people at the desk were gracious and helpful, and the location more than made up for the shortcomings of the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel was delicious, the pastries fresh and the coffee sublime. On the second day, my server remembered my preference and brought hot steaming milk to the table.
My first day was spent wondering through the maze of tiny alleys and narrow streets in hope of finding the elusive Piazza San Marco. You guessed it, even following the clear markings and arrows, I got lost.
Practically next door to the hotel was a remarkable Romanesque church and it so happened that there was a concert that night right in the church. It was fantastic. All in all, an incredible first day in a wondrous city.
The local restaurant was superb and I fell in love with black pasta, the local Venetian specialty. It truly was love at first bite. Black pasta is either pasta made with squid or cuttlefish ink, or the sauce is made from the ink. I tried both and loved both, the flavor is at once robust and earthy. Gelato was the dessert of choice, there are many flavors to choose from and I did my best to sample as many as time permitted.
Piazza San Marco does exist. St. Mark's Basilica stands proud and dominates the Piazza, it is the central focus, however the Piazza is so much more, the ducal palace and cafes, souvenir shops and the Grand Canal. The Piazza, simply put is glorious, as is the rest of this mysterious and intriguing city.
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath