Thursday, December 27, 2012

Because It Never Dried

And the answer to the final question from last vacation blog post is: No, the laundry never dried.
We finally gave up and opted to just pack our still-damp clothes in our suitcases, take one more spin around town to see if we could find the laundromat, and head down to breakfast at our favorite cafe. While at our favorite cafe, Mr. B found a laundromat just across the canal from the train station in Venice on Google Maps. Hopefully this one wouldn't be hidden!
We had pretty much all morning before we had to climb the hill to the train station, so we relaxed with some cappuccino, I spent some time writing in the travel journal while he found a laundromat, and we took some photos of the clear morning. The weather was beautiful.


Mr. B decided to take advantage of the lovely, public water fountain in the town square. I, being the skeptic that I am, let him drink it first. When drinking the water did not yield a result like choosing poorly in Indian Jones and the Last Crusade, I decided to give it a shot. It was some pretty tasty stuff. And thus began the photo series "Water Fountains of Italy."

Enjoying our last lake cafe morning on a clear day. I count this as one of the more relaxing experiences of my life. Really, my entire life. I just wish Varenna was a little closer to Norman so that we could relax there more often :-)

After finishing our cappuccino and writing, we grabbed our bags and headed up the hill to the train station. We thought we had found the ticketing area the night before so that we could easily obtain our prepaid tickets, but as it turns out, the ticket booth at the train station is unused and closed. So, after some quick checking, Mr. B ran back down the hill a bit to the travel agent, who also dispensed the train tickets. While he ran down the hill, I spoke with a lovely Australian couple and learned more about their vacation system. They are guaranteed four weeks (I think) of leave each year. Which is why you see so many Australians traveling the world.

We had a lovely train ride back down to Milan and then transferred to a really, really nice train to Venice. Roomy seats, tables, time to do some homework, and a lovely Brazilian couple to chat with. Pretty sure this was my favorite train ride.

Once we arrived in Venice, we departed the train station and walked out into Disney World. It was unreal. It didn't look like a real city--it looked like a theme park. And what do you do first thing when you get to a theme park? Look for the laundromat! Oh, you mean not everyone does that? My bad.

We crossed a bridge over the Grand Canal, just past a vaporetto stop, and quickly found the laundromat on a side street. We proceeded to do our laundry again, for real, although we probably should have bought more than one box of detergent. After a couple of hours watching our clothes spin and chatting with a guy from New York and some more Australians, we repacked our bags and headed out to find our hotel.

We rode the vaporetto, or water bus, all over Venice. For our first trip we tried to get close to the rail so we could see as much of the city as possible. If you go to Venice, don't waste tons of money on water taxis or private boats--the vaporetto is convenient, cheap, and you can ride as much as you want. It was easy to use, just like most mass transit, and generally quick. Here we are, headed under the Rialto bridge for the first time.

Our hotel was just off Saint Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco), so it was convenient for the most touristy part of the city. As we stepped onto the dock at the vaporetto station, we felt a huge sense of anticipation, for just around the corner from us was Saint Mark's Basilica. And the Doge's Palace. And Saint Mark's Square. And tons of pigeons and street vendors. A spectacle awaited us, so we forged ahead. We were not disappointed, as you can see on the face of the happy guy with the gelato.

We gawked for a while, one of us got teary-eyed (and surprisingly it wasn't me), and we were accosted by several vendors selling silly little toys that seemed horribly out of place in this setting. We tore ourselves away just long enough to walk down the alley to our hotel, check in, toss our bags in the room, and head back out. It was then that we found some delicious gelato, some delicious dinner, more delicious gelato, and spent the last part of the evening standing in the square under the moonlight listening to the musicians play at the cafes. Venice welcomed us with open arms full of food and music--what could be better?

This last photos is looking from Saint Mark's Square out toward the Grand Canal. The two pillars hold the symbols of Venice. The original patron saint of Venice was Saint Theodore, who slew a dragon, as represented by the dude with the spear standing over an alligator or crocodile on the right. The pillar on the left depicts the famed winged lion of Venice, representing its patron saint Saint Mark. After his body was stolen from Alexandria by merchants from Venice in the 800s, Venice adopted Saint Mark as their patron.

The sun went down, the moon came out, the music played, and then it was time to turn in for the evening, ready to jump into adventure in the morning.

In our next episode: How much glass and lace will I buy? Will we be left on Torcello at the mercy of the cats? Can I get away with taking photos in the Doge's Palace? Stay tuned!

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