By Val Quintanilla
Mission: Rest and recover from my travels to Europe.
I’ve been to Venice before, so I planned my first stop here simply because I was so taken by its magic. I didn’t plan any touristy adventures, I simply wanted to relax and enjoy the surroundings.
I started my day in Venice with a Vaparetto ride (a boat — the local transit system, but not to be confused with the water shuttle I took from the airport the night before) to the railway station to make my reservation for the next day’s trip to Verona.
I took in all that made me fall in love with the city’s old world charm back 1999: paint cracking on the buildings, planter boxes bulging with bright blooms, exposed brick peaking out, water stains on the buildings. Ah, how I adore Venezia!
After securing my reservation I set out for San Marco Square by foot — because it’s just not Venice until I’ve gotten lost! I found a grocery and stocked up on water. I made the rookie mistake of forgetting to check for “Naturale” and ended up with “Frizzante” (water with gas) aqua (eyes rolling at myself).
I meandered through the Rialto Market where fresh fish laid ready for cooking. Fruits and veggies spilled color on the tables. I walked over the Bridge of Sighs and naturally thought of Madonna (no, not the biblical one). I got lost a few times, because that’s what you’re supposed to do in Venice. My tour guide from my study abroad program told us a decade before we needn’t worry about losing our way in Venice, as it is the norm. The key is to remember you can always find a Vaparetto that will deliver you to where you need to go.
Despite a couple detours, I actually found the signage to S. Marco relatively easy to follow. I found the spot for my hotel’s shuttle and struck up a conversation with some fellow hotel patrons. I asked if they’d made it to the Skyline Bar on the top of our hotel yet. They had, it was beautiful and they were headed back upon return! We met at the rooftop pool where the view was breathtaking.
It appeared to be one of the highest points in all of Venice. The group hailed mostly from the East Coast and were on the tail end of a 10-day cruise that took them through the Greek Isles. My jaw dropped when they all told me their children were 15 to 20 years my senior! Talk about a vacation doing a body good! Jane, Ted, Edda, Donald (he says some people call him “Duck” 😉 ), Simone, and Joanie truly made my stay in Venice. We sat at the pool for hours, then met in the lobby for wine and appetizers. I took the group into the executive lounge that featured complimentary drinks and appetizers for Honors members. I am not above bribing people to hang out with me when traveling alone!
We ventured down the canal for dinner and found a fantastic little eatery. We got going late and almost didn’t find anyone who would take us. Apparently there is an unwritten law that restaurants must close at 9 p.m.
I read that September in Italy is a good time to order truffles, so I tested that with a funghi and truffle pasta. It was amazing. Simply amazing. Jane and I split a half liter of the house vini rosso and called it a perfect meal.
From there, we said our goodbyes, but I was determined to check out the night view from the Skyline Bar. Ted and Jane joined me. We ordered a bottle of Mascato d’Asti, a fabulous sparkling from the Piemonte. It was luscious. A perfect end to a perfect day.
Mission successfully accomplished. The next day it’s off to Verona.
Parting is such sweet sorrow…
Tips for Venice:
- If you flying to Marco Polo Airport, take the water shuttle to your hotel. Cost is 13 euro – considerably less than the 100+ euro water taxi. You get a lovely tour of Venice and an opportunity to converse with fellow travelers! Vaparetto company: Alilaguna, find timetables at www.alilaguna.it buy your ticket online ph: 041-523-5775
- Steal a ride on the Molino Stucky shuttle and cruise over to Guidecca Island to escape the crowds. The shuttle picks up in Piazza San Marco and Zatere. Be sure to check out the Skyline Bar for an amazing view! Click here for shuttle info.
- Drink the local wine! The Veneto is the largest producing wine region in the country. From Soave to Valpolicella you won’t be disappointed. Cin cin!
- Enjoy the food of the season. I got my info from Rick Steves’ and was not disappointed! April to May: Calamari, squid, green beans, asparagus, artichokes and zucchini flowers. April to May and August to September: Black truffles. May to June: Mussels, asparagus, zucchini, cantaloupe and strawberries. May to August: Eggplant. October to November: Mushrooms and white truffles. Year-round: Clams, meats and cheese.
- And don’t forget: Get lost in Venezia!
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