So, we arrived in Venice around 1:30 in the afternoon. The six of us started walking toward the apartment we'd be renting for the weekend. If you've never been to Venice, you have no idea what an ordeal this is. There are over 400 bridges in Venice! We all had backpacks, and two of us had pull-behind luggage. It was a nightmare! Every bridge is different, in some way. All that to say, it took us a while to get to the apartment. We arrived at the address they gave us and it appeared that we were in the wrong location. So, me being the impatient sort, I decided we needed to try my cell phone's map. Yeah, nothing there. Back to the original location we go! In the meantime, we noticed that the instructions guided us to press the bell for a certain name on the door. Back at the original door, there isn't that name anywhere! Are we lost? Joe checks email and finds that he has received an email from the owner. He calls that landlord to find that he has left the property and is on his way home! In Venice, that means he isn't right around the corner. He is on a water taxi, about 20 minutes away. He tells Joe to meet him at Ca d'Oro. Well, being an english speaker, we don't realize that Ca d'Oro is 2 words and is the name of a water taxi spot. So we start walking, it starts raining, I'm carrying a broken umbrella, we are still dragging tons of luggage, people are griping (ok, mainly this girl, right here), it wasn't fun. At some point, when we can't find Cadoro, my cell phone decides to be a blessing and show me Ca d'Oro! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! I was on the verge of saying, "Forget it! Take me back to Torino!" Ok, I might have said that. Anywho, we find the water taxi spot, Joe calls the landlord and he just so happens to be getting off the water taxi at that exact time. He takes us BACK to the apartment building we've been lingering around for the last few hours. I looked at the time when he left the apartment after showing us around. We had wandered around Venice for 3 hours! Can you believe it?!?! I wasn't in a loving mood at that point, not gonna lie. I was ready to crawl into the fetal position and eat some gelato. Alas, I have 4 kids and can't be totally selfish.
After everyone changed out of their drenched clothing (think wring-worthy), we headed out just to get a positive feel for Venice. We went to the Coop store around the corner for some necessities. We were staying in Cannaregio area of Venice. This is where the Venetians live. It was quiet and not touristy in this area, which we liked. There was a small produce vendor right outside of our door, which was nice. We went to eat at a local hot spot for dinner. Once again, this wasn't a positive experience for me. I have to eat gluten free or risk feeling like garbage for an entire week. On vacation, I stick to this strictly. The only option I really had at the restaurant was a pork chop in white wine sauce. It was expensive, boring and didn't even come with any sides. Basically we paid about 15 EU for me to have a bland pork chop that didn't fill me up or taste that good. Things were not going well. After this dining "experience", we went back to Coop to get me some food. I ate some Russian salad with gluten free crackers, buffalo mozzarella and spicy salami. I was pretty happy after that point. It is amazing what a full tummy will do for one's mood and state of mind!
The next morning, we decided to head to Piazza San Marco. Wow! This piazza is something to see. We went to Doge's Palace, which was pretty cool. I hate to admit this, but I seem to have "blocked" some of the memories of Venice. Everywhere we went was an unpleasant experience. Venice isn't like most Italian cities. They don't like kids and don't like tourists, at least from our experience. We were yelled at more times in Venice than in every other Italian city combined. We weren't allowed to sit, anywhere. The kids couldn't get within 10 feet of a piece of art without being yelled at and followed for the duration of our visit. I just didn't feel comfortable there. In almost every other Italian city, kids are welcomed with open arms and hair tossling. Italians love kids! Venetians, not so much. There aren't any "resting spots" in Venice and no parks. It really isn't a city for kids. Really. Really. Even with all of that, we were able to get some nice shots of the city and the Palace.
Piazza San Marco with basilica in the background
Same with other parent
Gondolas are cool!
He seems concerned
After lunch (my favorite part of the day...I was able to get liver and onions!), we went to Basilica di San Marco. Wow! I've never seen anything quite like it. We weren't allowed to take pictures, and being the American rule followers that we are, we didn't take pictures. It was so ornate and beautiful. It was a highlight of the weekend, for me. We then went to see some other churches. It is sort of like seeing the President and then seeing the Mayor. The Basilica was so exceptional, the other churches sort of paled in comparison.
We decided this would be the perfect night for a gondola ride. When in Venice, do as the Venetians do. Well, when in Venice, be a full-fledged tourist! I seriously doubt Venetians bother with gondola rides, honestly. This was another highlight of the weekend. Look at the pictures...we are all smiling!
Look at the smiles...we really, really enjoyed the gondola ride
We had J Jr. take our pic so we could get our gondolier in the pic. Sneaky!
The next day, we visited about a million churches, at least that is how it felt to me. Boo and Little J were about done with everything indoors. So was their momma! We would have much rather sat and enjoyed the canals. We were able to go to Punta della Dugana after taking an unsteady gondola ride across the Grand Canal. Some people in our family love churches, art and tourist traps. I won't mention any names, but it might be the people not aforementioned. Here are some pictures.
Love this boy!
The last day, Boo, Little J and I were caught in a torrential downpour! We were all completely soaked from head to toe. Think umbrellas bending in several directions, rain pounding in your eyes so you can't see, no one on the streets. We dove into the Coop store before they closed the doors. It was so cold being in air conditioning and sopping wet. BUT, it was probably one of my favorite moments of the entire weekend. Some days, you just need something fun and spontaneous.
I must conclude by saying that I would have probably enjoyed Venice more if it had been just the two adults. I think the cruise ships have put a bad taste in the Venetians mouths for tourists. It was strange being in an Italian city with very few children around. Oh well!