This past weekend, Nate and I enjoyed a romantic rendezvous in Venice.
When we first arrived on Thursday, it was raining and a bit chilly. This did not make me happy. I certainly don't do well when I'm cold, and I was wearing an adorable little knit dress and flats. Everyone else had on warm pants and rain jackets. Not only was I cold, but I felt stupid for not paying closer attention to the weather reports. Wishful thinking I suppose. Can you tell that I REALLY want warmer weather? I've been deprived here! Work with me seasons!
Anyway, we bought umbrellas at a tourist stand, mine being a corny Venice painting one, but hey, it was either that or the ugly plaid one Nate got. Oh well, at least we were now out of the rain.
We then checked into our hotel (a bit gaudy, it's Italy, but still awesome, don't you love the pink bedding and walls? The walls were actually fabric covered and somewhat soft....hmm), I changed, and then we went to explore this mysterious and beautiful city.
Venice is interesting. It's extremely old, crumbling before your very eyes, über-touristy and yet totally unique. It's often imitated, but never duplicated. There is nothing like Venice. Sure, it's a bit dirty, overrun and overdone by tourists from all over the globe, but it's absolutely amazing. The architecture, the narrow (and I mean narrow!) twists and turns of every "street", nothing is straight, vertical or horizontal. Everything is sinking, and unevenly at that.
Cars are no where to be found. Boats take their place. Perhaps this is also what adds to the ancient feel of the city (er, should I say, town. There are only about 30,000 residents, the rest are all tourists). The modern invention of the car does not work here. This just adds to Venice's charm.
By Friday however, the weather had changed into beautiful, warm, spring days. Hooray! Nate and I explored as much as we could. We got lost on purpose, always finding some little store or plaza just around the bend.
Good thing we did so much walking too, because we ate like pigs. Venice is known for it's seafood dishes and so we tried the local specialites like sardines in saor (whole sardines in olive oil, onions, raisins and pine nuts), nero di seppia (cuttlefish cooked in a sauce made with it's own ink, it's better than it sounds), and the amazing, the delicious......risotto al mare. This is risotto cooked in a fish stock with other goodies from the ocean, like mussels, shrimp and clams. Yum. It was so, so, so good.
Of course, since it was our first time in Venice, we HAD to do a gondola ride. And it was fun, a great way to see the town.
At one point during our ride in the gondola (with, might I add, a gondolier who looked sort of like a younger Ricky Ricardo with tatoos), we passed the back entrance of the opera house. As we turned to look, a very nice private water taxi pulled up to the steps, simultaneously Nathan looks to the bridge ahead and comments about all the men with "really nice" cameras. I say "they sort of look like paparazzi" just as this beautiful woman in a suit leaps out of the taxi, cameras clicking and flashing away, and into the opera house. Our gondolier says that it was someone famous, but with his accent, I did not understand the name, something like Charlene blahblahblah. Come to find out later that Salma Hayek got married that weekend (actually the DAY we were on our gondola ride) in the opera house and Venice was full of celebrities. And I didn't see a single one. Except of course for the woman jumping out of the water taxi, which I'm now guessing was Charlize Theron, who was a guest at the wedding. Just goes to show you that in that small little town, so tightly packed with buildings, you can really hardly see anyone. D'oh!
We really loved Venice. Nathan and I have decided to go back. Someday.