Thursday, June 30, 2011


Sunday started early with a 3 hour drive to our hotel in Venice (where Jenny was waiting!). Our tour guide was generous and let Jenny travel with the group, so she was allowed to tag along for our bus ride to the Tronchetto (the ferry terminal just west of Venice) and then the ferry ride to St Mark’s Square. Our first views of the city!

Next up we had a [dull] walking tour of the city, but it was nice to see some of the sights. Below, the only spiral staircase in the city, the Doge’s Palace, and of course, St. Mark’s Cathedral, a church in the Byzantine style, notably full of treasures plundered during the Crusades, including those four bronze horses on the roof (from the Cathedral in Istanbul!).

After our farewell dinner we rode the ferry and then bus back to our hotel on the mainland in Venice Mestre for our final night on the tour.

The next morning I was up at 4 AM with the group to say my farewells and truly bid adieu to my Stanford Experience, four years I’ll never forget. Afterwards I quickly retreated back to sleep since checkout wasn’t till 10! At 10 Jenny and I left the hotel burdened with our luggage to ride into Venice and then walk to our new hotel, Hotel Caneva. She may have only been one star, but our room was awesome, and she definitely beat our four star hotel on the mainland! Here’s the view from our balcony:

We then headed out for the best gelato and Venice and a quick lunch while working our way back to the train station to get on the Vaporetto (ferry) #1 and ride down the Grand Canal, the world’s most beautiful boulevard.

Our ride ended at the far eastern point of Venice, a tourist-free part of the city, with a way different feel. We then worked our way back into the city, walking by the famous Arsenale, the ship works of Venice which could build a galley a day during their prime!

Next we headed back up the bell tower at St. Mark’s, to catch the city at sunset. Stunning indeed…

And I caught this professional photographer up at the top:

The day ended with a late dinner at La Zucca, an awesome little vegetarian(ish) place in the heart of city. Jenny had pumpkin flan and green peppers with balsamic vinegar (Jenny won) and I headed boneless rabbit cooked with fava beans. Everything was rounded off with a delicious limoncello mousse for desert. Mmm!

Tuesday morning we decided to stay in Venice for the day, putting off a day trip to Trieste. We started the day off by going to St. Mark’s Cathedral, the beautiful Byzantine cathedral in Venice. The size of the place isn’t super impressive because the soft foundation prevents tall buildings in Venice, but the interior is unbelievable. The ceiling is covered in huge mosaics and the floor is full of incredibly intricate marble patterns of dozens of colors. It’s also nifty to see all the treasures Venice took during the Crusades and the slumps in the floor as the foundation has shifted. Sadly I don’t have any photos to show because photography isn’t allowed. You’ll have to go see it yourself!

After St Marks we walked through the Jewish Ghetto, the area where “ghetto” was coined when the Jews were confined there in Venice during the 1400s. We had a delicious lunch of local seafood, starting with an appetizer of sardines, octopus, squid, and fish, and ending with the famous Venezia specialty, squid with black ink. What a crazy dish!

Cooked in white wine with garlic and onions, it was pretty good (kinda of hard to imagine all that ink in my stomach though…)

Next we headed out to Venezia’s cemetery island, home to thousands and thousands of Venetians and some other notable people including Igor Stravinsky and Ezra Pound. It was a nice peaceful escape from the city- no pictures there either.

Finally, it was back to the room for a lovely dinner in our room on the canal.

The next morning we said goodbye to Venice and to head to Lake Como via Milan. A lovely visit to one of the world’s most unique cities!

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