#TandJLeaveUSA: Venice

Disclaimer: I've had every intention to post regularly about our trip while on our trip, but the universe had other plans, and due to unforeseen circumstances (I'll go into detail in the next post), that wasn't possible. Anywho, here's Venice!

I wanted to have nothing but amazing things to say about Venice. Initially, I just knew this post would be me gushing over this charming city that's literally on the water--there are no buses, cars, or trains, only boats. I was prepared to write about how the unbelievably fresh mozzarella paired with house-made prosciutto and bread straight from the oven made for a panini better than any I've had in my lifetime, or the endless gelato that made it so hard to pick just two flavors of the creamy goodness. If I had it my way, I'd share those things in addition to a sweet story about how our host welcomed us into to Italy with open arms, offering an authentic Italian experience.

But that's not how things went down. Not at all.

Sure, the city is charming, the paninis are out of this world, and the pizza and gelato exceed expectations, but to be honest, Venice was the first time Tiona and I said, "it's time to go home."

The beginning of our time in Venice, well, the whole thing, really, was full of adventure. And not just "wow, this is exhilarating!" adventure, either. It was full on, "what the HELL are we gonna do?" adventure.

We arrived in Venice at 10pm after catching a ride with a gentleman driving from Poland to Milan. Sounds a bit bizarre, but we found him on a website called BlaBlaCar. Think AirBnB, but for ridesharing. We put in our starting and ending points, searched for people who were driving that route, and read their reviews. If they have good enough ratings and references, they reach Expert level, and our driver was certainly the expert, with over 20 references. Joined by Valentina, a girl heading to Padova, Italy, we made our way out of Austria and into our 5th country in almost two weeks.

It wasn't until we got dropped off at the Venice's metropolitan area station that we realized we didn't quite have a place to stay, not including the creepy Venetian man who offered to host us on Couchsurfer. He said "host," but based on his pictures, we were thinking, "turn you into my sex slaves." No matter how desperate we got, Mikael was NOT an option.

Thanks to a waiter at a hotel restaurant who risked it all and snuck us their WiFi password, Tiona and I snagged WiFi just long enough to book a hostel online. Google maps said it was close by, but "close by" turned into two girls with massive backpacks sprinting across a bustling highway and clinging to guard rails at 11pm. I badly wanted WiFi just one more time, just long enough to tell Derrick and my family that I love them dearly, but goodbye.

We made it to the hostel, checked in, and slept in separate rooms (only I got no sleep at all). Out by 10am, Tiona and I made our way out to see the beautiful town, so we took the metro away from the outskirts of Venice and into the heart of the city, the part completely surrounded by water. This is where you can scroll back up and read me gushing about the incredible panini, the gelato, and the pizza. Delish.

After getting caught in the rain with no umbrella and nowhere to go, Tiona and I looked at each other, both growing ill (well, me STILL ill, her catching the bug) and agreed that maybe it was time to go home. The truth was, though, that while Venice was beautiful, it's very touristy, and up to that point Tiona and I had made it our mission to not be tourists, but rather travelers. We didn't want to spend money on expensive restaurants or site see (although we did map it to a few sites in order to kill time...by "time" I mean "a whole day"). We didn't want to stay in hotels, spending our nights isolated from Venetian locals. After our experiences in Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, and Vienna, we wanted to LIVE like locals. It was a little hard to do that in a city that is more or less designed for tourists, specifically couples. In a nutshell, Italy just offered an experience very different from the one we'd grown accustomed to on this trip, and it wasn't necessarily a good different. So, we headed back to the metropolitan area, spent 3 hours standing at outlets in the Mestre mall, and looked at options to go home. With Tiona's health declining at a more rapid pace and me suffering yet another nosebleed, we made the tough decision to splurge on a hotel and use the night to regroup, get a good night's sleep, and weigh our options for switching our flights and coming home early.

Waking up feeling a little better, we agreed that although Italy wasn't quite what we were expecting, maybe we shouldn't quit just yet. Sure, Venice threw us off our rocker a bit, but we still had great cities ahead.

Aside from the charm of the city and the incredible eats we enjoyed in Venice, a highlight for me was stumbling upon a doner kebab restaurant in the metropolitan city of Mestre. Since we had nowhere to stay, getting WiFi was extremely difficult, but the nice folks at this spot offered free WiFi and didn't mind us camping out for a few hours while we strategized our next steps. Those next steps ended up being an overnight bus ride to Rome, which covered our lodging for the night and brought us into a new city, with the trauma of Venice behind us. Hooray for fresh starts.


Janna: Venice was beautiful, and the most unique city we've been to thus far. The idea of it being completely on water was fascinating! Although I wasn't crazy about the hostel, kinda cool to be able to say I experienced one.
Tiona: Venice was another breathtaking city. I just kept asking myself, HOW did they build this all on water? We also stumbled upon, 'Il Martirio di San Pantalon', a church with the world 's largest canvas. That was pretty special in itself.


Janna: Read above. But really, after spending each new day excited for the next adventure, it was a bit disheartening to feel like the amazing time just might be coming to an end.
Tiona: I'd like to say running across the highway in the darkness was a pit, but I secretly found it exhilarating *evil laugh. I guess the moment I thought Janna may have spread the bubonic plague to me :)

I left Venice completely addicted to gelato. *heart eyes emoji*

Add brick wall, get art.

"Parking lot" for boats.

The concept of a city completely on water was equally interesting and charming.

Gondola rides in the Grand Canal

Largest winding staircase in the world: Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo 

Left NYC and came all the way to Venice to let pigeons land on my hand.

Piazza San Marco

Our first pizza in Italy, please believe the hype!

1 comment

  1. Sounds like an adventure, one to remember for a long time. Great photos, greetings to you!


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