Monday, April 28, 2008

A Quick Trip to Bella Venezia!

Monday April 21, 2008: I received a phone call from Tony while at work stating he was going to Venice and that it would be a 2 night layover. I told him to check to see how many empty seats were on each flight while I ran over to my boss to ask him for the week off (I already had Friday scheduled off for Tony's 30th VMI reunion in Lexington, VA). Not a problem, so at lunchtime, I went home to get ready for the trip. I already had a carry-on bag packed and just needed to make sure I didn't miss something (which I found out later I did). Tony arranged for our neighbors to take care of Lucy and was charging my camera battery.

A short 2 hour, 15 minute drive to the Philadelphia airport, I was so excited to be going back to my favorite city! This would be my fifth trip to Venice. Check-in as a stand-by passenger was very easy. I purchased the business class upgrade for $100 for my flight home...just in case there were no available seats in coach class. When Tony checked online, there were 64 empty seats to Venice with 8 people listed and 10 seats on the return with 5 people listed.

The flight attendants were great! Kathy took charge of taking care of us non-revenue passengers, all of us traveling with a crew member. I actually slept on the flight, although just a couple of hours. I took 1/2 an ambien, which helped.

Tuesday April, 22 2008: Arriving in Venice, my plans to dive right into Venice, while Tony slept a few hours, changed. We arrived to a rainy day, so I headed to the hotel with Tony to nap. We met up with Chris, one of the flight attendants, at 3pm and headed out. I had met Chris years ago when Tony flew for the Trump Shuttle. The bus stop was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Across the street is a "Pam" store, which I ran into to purchase a brush (one of the items I left at home). For some reason, we couldn't buy bus tickets - not at the tobacco shop or on the bus, so our round trip ride was free.

One of the many bridges in Venice

There is a new bridge being built crossing over the grand canal. Looks like it will be finished soon. It doesn't quite fit with the other 100+ bridges, as I found it a little too modern looking.

New bridge being built - near the bus station

Our afternoon and evening was spent wandering the narrow and colorful streets of Venice, crossing over the many bridges, window shopping, and taking lots of photos. I had brought my list of Venice restaurants, so we headed to La Zucca in the Santa Croce area to make dinner reservations for our first evening.

We also stopped for a drink at Cantina do Mori and drinks and cicchetti (chi-KET-tee), which are tapas-like food, at Ostaria dai Zemei. We had some baby octopus, artichoke hearts and eggplant with sundried tomatoes. Many of these bars have the cicchetti lined up and the customers just need to point to what they want.

It lightly rained off and on, but no matter the weather, it's always great to be in Venice. We made our way to the Rialto bridge where there was lots of activity going on. The market stalls were closed, but many tourists were purchasing their Venetian souvenirs.

We headed to Piazza San Marco, which was filled with tourists and of course, pigeons, and checked out the gondoliers (well, I did) along the water. Heading north, we passed by a favorite spot that my friend Beth and me love to photograph:

May 2006 April 2008
Beth, our little "corner" in Venice has been plastered and re-painted! I liked it much better before it was painted. I'm a little heartbroken.

We made our way back to Santa Croce for dinner at La Zucca, meaning "pumpkin". Dinner was very good! We had a table just inside the restaurant, as it was too cold and damp to sit outside. The restaurant is very small, with three sets of tables in the front room and several more in the back room. The three of us shared a carpaccio salad. For dinner, I had rabbit with rice and mixed vegetables. Tony enjoyed a chicken and pork dish, which had a ginger-Asian flavor. Chris had vegetable lasagna. Not a typical Italian menu, and only written in Italian, it was a very good meal. We shared a carafe of red house wine.
My rabbit dish - delicious!

After dinner, we made reservations at Trattoria al Ponte, across the little canal from La Zucca. It was another restaurant on my list and Chris said she had enjoyed dining there before. A nice walk back to the bus station and back to our hotel. We had a round of drinks at the bar before bedtime.

Wednesday April 23, 2008: Tony and I headed out about 8:30am. Chris wasn't feeling well but said she would meet us later for dinner. It was a beautiful day! We walked towards the bus stop and purchased bus tickets in a store. Although the hotel was located in Mestre (on the mainland) it was easy to get to Venice and only a short 10-minute bus ride away.

We walked everywhere! It was too nice to be inside any museum, as Venice itself is a museum! A Chinese couple asked for directions to S. Marco, which I gave, but I'm sure they got lost along the way. Hopefully they saw the signs that are posted in various spots.

Winding our way through the streets, we eventually came to what I call the gondola parking lot. There were lots of tourists boarding their gondolas for their short 30-40 minute ride. Someday we'll splurge for a gondola ride.

For lunch, Tony and I ate at Trattoria al Vecio Canton (Ruga Giuffa, Castello), one of the best places for pizza. Without a good map, it can be hard to find. I had dined here several years ago and always wanted to come back for their thin, crusty pizza with fresh ingredients. I enjoyed their spinach and ricotta pizza, while Tony had one with mushrooms. We both agreed we should have split one pizza.

After lunch, we headed up to the Fondamenta Nove vaporetto stop so we could take a ride around Venice to the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. We purchased a 12-hour vaporetto pass, which was expensive, but we felt we would use it a few times (and did). The church was built in the mid 1500's by Andrea Palladio. Tony sat outside resting his knees (he'll be having knee surgery this fall), while I went to the top if the tower to take some photographs. There was an elevator, which cost 3 euros. What great views of the city! People were coming and going and I took my fair share of photos.

Back on the vaporetto and 3 stops later, we were enjoying gelato at Nico's on Fondamenta de le Zattere. The place was crowded with people buying various flavors of gelato. I love the pistachio! We were able to grab a table to enjoy our dessert and people watch.

Tony wanted to find a particular bar that he went to a few months ago, so we headed across the Accademia bridge and up towards the Rialto bridge. I think we spent 2 hours walking along the streets to find this bar. No luck at all! We were ready for a break, so we had drinks at Aquila Nera around the corner from cafeteria Bartolomeo's.

We chatted with a very nice couple who were on holiday from Australia. They had rented an apartment nearby and were enjoying their drinks before dinner.

It was time to head to dinner. While waiting for the vaporetto at the Rialto stop, I saw Annette, Ron, and their daughter in a gondola. Ron was one of the flight attendants and it was Annette's and her daughter's first visit to Venice. I snapped a few photos for them. Not paying attention, we got on the wrong vaporetto and had to backtrack one stop. We still made it to the restaurant and met up with Chris, who was feeling much better.
With Chris

Trattoria al Ponte is another small restaurant along a small canal and across from La Zucca. It was warm enough to sit outside for dinner and it was a delightful evening. Chris started with a vegetable soup while Tony and I shared an antipasto misto di salami, a plate of mixed meats. We also ordered a small plate of boiled octopus, which was quite tender and mild in flavor. For dinner, I had a meat-stuffed tortellini with a gorgonzola sauce and mixed grilled vegetables. Tony had a breaded cutlet with the same grilled vegetables. We shared a liter of red wine. For dessert we found a gelateria nearby. I enjoyed the Nocciola - hazelnut gelato. This was the first time I had gelato twice in one day!

While heading back to the bus station, I took some night photos. I didn't have a tripod with me, but I think I managed quite well.

Thursday April 24, 2008: Arrangements were made to have all us stand-by passenger travel together to the airport at 9am to checkin. We all made it in business class, while the coach section was full. What a treat that was! The service was great and so was the food, from a nice variety of hor'dourves to a delicious shrimp salad. And the flight attendants were generous with the wine and champagne. I "slept" with all three pilots, or they slept with me - at least that's what Tony's been saying. My seat was next to the one that is reserved for the pilots when they are ready for a break or nap.

It was a very smooth flight home, but not our ride home. We ran into the afternoon traffic and also found out that Rte 70 near Frederick was closed due to a large sinkhole. We ended up in Columbia for dinner to wait out the traffic. Our drive home and our stop for dinner took about 5 hours! Back at home, Lucy was happy to see us. Poor girl, we had to drop her back off at Angie's house since we were heading to Lexington the next day.

It was a whirlwind of a week, plus the weekend in Lexington VA for Tony's 30th VMI reunion. We had a great time with his college friends, but that's another story! I'm ready for Tony to have another 2-day trip!


PS: Here's a link to some of my Venice photos:


La Zucca
San Giacomo dell'OrioSanta Croce 1762 - Venezia+39 041 52 41 570
Opening time: 12:30pm - 2:30pm; 7:00 - 10:30pm; Closed Sunday
Vaporetto: No. 1 water bus to the San Stae stop; Head down on Slzda. S. Stae and turn right on Cle Tentor. Go 2 blocks and then make a quick left and quick right turn and the restaurant will be on the left just before the canal and bridge.

Trattoria al Vecio Canton
Ruga Giuffa, Castello, 4738/a Venezia Tel. 0415285176
Closed Tuesdays

Trattoria al Ponte
Across from La Zucca
Ponte del Megio (Calle Larga), Santa Croce 1666

See directions to La Zucca, as this restaurant is across the canal
+39 041 7197 77
Closed Sundays

Gelateria Nico’s
Located just down from the Zattere vaporetto stop or a 5-minute walk from the Accademia bridge

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Whuuuut...I am SO jealous!! I love it, that's a good reason to always have a bag packed and ready to go. And lookit Tony! So happy to be flying off to Venice.....