We stepped out of the airport, and into the unknown. It was our first real international trip , except for Niagara falls and a few cruises. We stumble upon the ticket booth for the Vaporetto, which is the Venice water taxi. I try and epically fail at ordering the tickets in Italian, so I just point and hold up 2 fingers and that works much better. The taxi pulls up, and Chaos ensues. Mass amounts of people start boarding simultaneously, all lugging huge bags and storing them at the far end of the boat. We squeeze in and begin to take in our first views of beautiful Venice, the ancient buildings, the clear blue water, the cathedrals, and the passing Gondolas. We arrive at our stop, and feel like we have stepped back in time to the year 1500. The language is unfamiliar to us, there are narrow alleyways around every corner, and pigeons - everywhere! Upon closer inspection, the ancient buildings appear noticeably rundown, but yet still have a charm to them.
|First views of Venice!|
Since this is pre smart phone days, I pull out a copy of the e-mail with turn by turn directions given to me by the hotel, but we can't even figure out where these directions start. We walk up and down the waterfront for a good 15 minutes before I begin to understand the street signs are posted on the buildings, and that some of these entrances i see are actually streets! Finally we come across the street from the e-mail and eventually make our way to our hotel, which is down the narrowest alleyway yet.
|The route to our hotel...|
After unpacking we were starving, so we ducked into the first pizzeria we saw for a quick bite. To our surprise, it was heated up in the microwave! We decided to go back to the hotel to freshen up, and then headed back out to explore.
|Our first meal in Italy... Not what we expected!|
We walked to Piazza San Marco, conveniently only 3 blocks from our hotel, and saw the cathedral in all its glory. We see a Gelato stand and have our very first taste of one of the most delicious desserts in the world! We spend most of the evening just wandering through the alleyways, getting lost on a regular basis and going in circles more than a few times.
|Basilica Di San Marco|
|First Gelato... Amazing!|
We had wandered quite far from the hotel, and worked up an appetite. An aroma best described as Italian Sunday dinner filled the air, and through the window of a tiny Trattoria we see a giant pot of sauce cooking and happy people inside eating pasta. We had found our first authentic Italian meal! The bolognese didn't disappoint!
|Our first authentic Italian dinner|
By the time we left the restaurant it had started to rain, so we picked up the pace and headed back to the hotel. Except we went a half hour in the wrong direction! Soaked and exhausted, we finally made it back to the hotel. It rained steadily through the night, and by morning, the entire Piazza had flooded. It was an incredible sight! People were dressed for the occasion wearing special high rain boots, and these planks were set up to walk on, even leading inside San Marco Cathedral itself, which had some flooding inside as well. The morning was spent inside the Cathedral, and afterwards the flooding had reached our hotel alleyway, making us unable to return.
|The flooding was no joke!|
|Special flood boots for the occasion!|
|Escaping the flood in Basilica Di San Marco|
We decided to do some more wandering, and spent the afternoon eating more authentic Italian food, way more Gelato than we probably should have, and checking out various shops. We even took a ride on a gondola! One more incredible dinner later, and the flooding had finally subsided, allowing us to go back to the hotel.
|Riding the gondola|
As we got ready for bed that night, I knew that I was hooked! I couldn't wait to see what Florence and Rome had to offer, and was already creating a mental bucket list of all the places I wanted to visit. I was bitten hard by the travel bug!