Waterworld (aka Venice) and favorite Italy moments

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Rick Steves started his guide book with something like this, “Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Even more beautiful than the postcards is seeing it in person.” I had high expectations. A city with canals instead of streets? Gondolas instead of cars? Sounds like a fantasy land. And yet with our own eyes we saw it. After turning each corner, my jaw dropped, my camera went up, and I snapped away. Beautiful, stunning, breathtaking, gorgeous- these are just a few words to describe Venice, and yet they don’t quite do it justice. Picture this- with the sea breeze in your hair, you float down the Grand Canal on a large boat called a “water bus”. 90% of the people are standing (you slowly crept your way up to the front and snagged some seats without having to push anyone over). You are crammed next to Italians, Spanish, Japanese, Colombians, everyone around the world and conversations in different languages fill the air. Floating past you are colorful buildings where the brick beneath the plaster is exposed, the windows are lined with pink and red flowers, and clothes hanging on a line to dry connect one apartment to the next. A couple sits in a large open doorway to an old run down building, sipping wine, laughing at how lucky they are to live in this magical place. A young man in a black and white striped shirt and straw hat serenades a couple sitting in a heart shaped seat while steering the gondola down a corner into a side canal. He sings and smiles because he is happy to be $80 richer for the 30 minute ride. Several other tug boats, water taxis, and water buses wiz past you. An elderly woman with a huge smile waves. You pass under a bridge and the whole scene unfolds and repeats itself in front of you. You blink, pinch yourself, pinch the person next to you, apologize for pinching them, and realize this is real. You try your hardest to resist the temptation to take out your camera every 6 seconds and instead sit, relax, and take in the scene. You see a cute bridge covered in vines and take out your camera out anyway.

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We pretty much did it all in Venice- we got lost in the alley ways (well almost, Jon is just too good of a navigator), ate three course pasta and seafood meals, floated down the canal, peered out of the top of the San Giorgio bell tower, visited San Marco square and the Rialto bridge, bought gelato, cappuccino, blown glass and lace on the island of Burano, ate cicheti (delicious bar snacks) and sipped spritz (delicious orange-y sparkling wine).

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During the once again amazing Free City Walking Tour we learned how Venice came to be and how eventually it may be no more if it continues to sink. “Hopefully someone will do something about that in the next 100 years” our guide said with a nervous smile. She continued to explain that the grouping of 118 islands made for the perfect spot for the Romans to avoid invasion. So they cut down all of the trees, smashed them deep into the ground and covered them with rocks, petrifying them, and making a strong ground on which to build. In order to prevent the city from totally drowning during high tide and rainy season, the city has adapted. Each November the walkways get flooded in ankle, sometimes knee, sometimes even thigh deep water. To allow passage, the people put up platforms that raise walkways onto what seem like stilts. Every Venetian also owns at least 3 pairs of tall rubber boots in all designs and sizes. One bookstore doesn’t bother with efforts to keep water outside of the store. They let it flow in and put most of their books in bathtubs to protect it. Probably 75% of their books survive this way and 25% get soaked and made into decorations or part of the walls and stairs. “There are two owners at this book store” our guide warned, “ and lots of cats. One of the owners is always smoking and the other is always drunk. The store is complete chaos but they both know where every book resides.” And so to our long list of characteristics of Venice most of which describe the outer appearance, we can add quirky and resourceful to describe it’s character and people (well at least some of them).

 

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 Other favorite moments from the Italy tour:

  • Making pasta dinners together in the apartment.
  • Daily cappuccino breaks.
  • The Colosseum and Forum.
  • David, and realizing where the word “chiseled” comes from.
  • Facetiming with family
  • The Grand Canal
  • Driving along the windy narrow roads of Amalfi and taking in the views.
  • Shopping a bit which we haven’t done at all until Italy
  • Relaxing, scenic train rides

Mille Grazie

Although we said it a thousand times in person, we wanted to publicly thank Jon’s parents Ray and Joyce for visiting us in Italy and making this trip of a lifetime possible. It was so much fun! We listed many favorite moments above but ultimately the best part of the Italy tour was spending 2 weeks together. We miss our families and friends so much and it means the world to us when you visit and share a piece of World Tour with us, stay connected through the blog, facebook or email, and just send us your love through the universe. Thank you.

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View from the water bus

 

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Alley to the canal

 

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Gondola ride

 

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What we saw when we stepped out of the train station

 

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The canal at night

 

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Getting lost and found

 

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We weren’t the only ones in Venice

 

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Masks for Carnival. These were everywhere.

 

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Burano Island, land of colorful houses. They also sold lots of lace.

 

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Gondola rides in the Grand Canal

 

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More gondolas that we did not ride

 

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San Marco Basilica

 

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The floating parking lot

 

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Art exhibit inside San Giorgio Bell Tower

 

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View from San Giorgio Bell Tower

 

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Another spectacular view from the bell tower

 

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Seafood dinner on a side canal

 

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