Sunday, May 26, 2013

Italia: Day 1 - Venice!

Once we landed in Rome, we had to figure out how to exchange money.
Which turned out to be ridiculously difficult in the airport. We must have walked from one end of the airport to the other 10 times between currency machines. 
Tired. Not really understanding anything anyone was saying.
All part of the adventure!

Once we finally found an ATM that worked, we managed to track down a shuttle to Termini Station in Rome, where we caught our train to Venice. 
This process of currency exchanging, shuttle riding, train catching {really, this entire day} was quite the reminder we are indeed in a foreign country and they do things a lot differently than we do. Even with all the research I did, there are still holes and things you have to just figure out.

Oh, and you have to pay to use the bathroom in the train station! 
Which I knew about, but it was still funny. We decided against a picture there. :)

But we did it! Carly was such a trooper!

The train ride was great. 4.5 hours. Through lots of tunnels. Pouring rain the whole time.
But seriously, we loved it. Italy is beautiful! And fun. 
{ps: thank goodness for Rick Steves!}

Our arrival in Venice was so fun. It is SO pretty. 
We forgot to pack gloves [well, we didn't think we would need them. wrong.]
so our hands felt like they were gonna fall off as we lugged our luggage onto the vaporetto as fast as we could [you have like 15 seconds to get on and then it's gone!]. 
We shoved our way off when we got to our stop. And began the short trek through cobbled streets over bridges to our bed and breakfast. 

{ps: For not being a map-reader, Carly ROCKED the navigation on this trip. I started just following her after awhile. :)}

We made it to Ca' Bonvicini, and let me tell you, the moment we walked through that little door and were welcomed so sweetly into the heated room was the best moment ever.

We took a couple pictures of our room, which ended up being our favorite of the whole trip.

Then we headed out into the cold. Our first stop was in a cute little shop to purchase gloves and hats. Which we wore for basically the whole week. :)
Our second stop was the first gelateria we saw. Even if it was pouring rain and freezing. We're in Italy, for goodness sake! We had to get it!
Then, across the Rialto Bridge to see St. Mark's Square.

By the time we got to St Mark's, it was pouring rain, getting dark, and everything was closed and flooding. So our pictures are a bit sub-par. Since we had to take off our gloves to use the camera on our phone. ;) So the pictures may not do it justice, but Venice is BEAUTIFUL. And St Mark's Square is amazing!!

They have these big tables that they push together to make walkways, and this is what people walk on when it rains, because Venice floods. Especially St Mark's Square. We walked on them and quickly discovered their purpose. :) It wasn't flooded yet, but by the morning it had!

[in front of St Mark's Basilica. this is as close as we got]

After our few pictures, we walked back near our B&B to have dinner. We only had one night for dinner in Venice and so we took Sabina's recommendation. It was good. Cute. Fun.

 So here's my "we are so-NOT locals and it was obvious tonight" story.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So I had read all about {and experienced in my own Italian family} that dinners are multiple courses. They are lengthy and you order all the courses and stay for a couple hours for dinner enjoying everything. So I of course have told Carly about all that I have read and when we get to this restaurant, I'm telling her, "ok Car, let's each pick a dish from the different courses." So we do. We've got our whole meal mapped out down to dessert. We're gonna start with this shrimp and avocado thing and caprese. So we order these two things. And the waiter walks away. {there's only one waiter for the whole restaurant of 12 tables, all of which are full.} And we order wine. So, we look at each other and are like, "oh maybe they don't like to get the whole order at the same time." So finally these items come out, which were good.

 But we're hungry and ready for the next course. So there's the primeri course which is pastas, and the segundi course which is more meats. So Carly's all excited about something substantial in addition to pasta. But I can't get our waiter's attention to order the rest of our meal. So finally, I flag him over. So he comes and I say "we're ready to order the rest of our meal." And he just looks at me. So I order this spinach ravioli thing. With cheese sauce. Which apparently we learned later is NOT an Italian thing - it's an American thing (the cheese sauce). So he had recommended fish and red sauce, which I was planning to order with the next course right after I ordered the ravioli. And Carly is ready to order her next course. And he looks at me after I order the ravioli with this look that said "I can't believe you're ordering all that" and walked away. So I look at Carly thinking, we weren't done, we had three more things to order! And Carly is cracking up. And she tells me this table right next to us of locals (clearly) was watching me order and was gasping to each other about all the food I was ordering. {I didn't even order everything! They had no idea!} So Carly decided in her mind she wasn't ordering any more. So I can't figure out what I did wrong and she is just looking at me laughing as we realized, you don't actually have to order from every course like I thought. That is considered excess. And you don't order all at the same time. Like we do in America. {well, like I do}. So, Carly didn't like the ravioli. So her dinner was that avocado shrimp thing pictured above and I ate the caprese and ravioli. {seriously, there were like 15 tiny little ravioli on the plate}.

And we were still kinda hungry but didn't dare order anything else. So then we had to track the guy down again for the check as we realized we were overstaying our welcome, it seemed. And Carly really wanted this dessert they had and I really wanted gelato, but we were kinda afraid to order after all the looks of horror we had received. So we ended up leaving and trying to track down an open place for dessert. But the only thing is that things close early. So nothing was really open. So we just kinda wandered through the streets of Venice late at night. But that was the fun part. 

Lessons learned:
1. Don't order all at once
2. Don't order from every type of course
3. Don't expect your waiter to ask you if you need anything else
4. Don't ask for recommendations if you're not prepared to take them at that moment
5. Don't laugh too loud in the restaurant

We still laugh about our first dinner in Venice and how all my attempts trying so hard to be a local ended up screaming "I am NOT from here."

All part of the adventure!

And this was our first day in Italy. Palm Sunday. :)

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