The girls and I have officially begun our two week trip through Italy and Greece!
Here is the itinerary:
- March 26th – 29th Venice (✓)
- March 29th – April 1st Florence
- April 1st – April 7th Rome
- April 7th – April 12th Santorini
Our first leg on out journey was my all-time dream destination VENICE! As soon as I was placed in Austria through ISEP, my study abroad program, I checked the distance Linz was to Venice. Then I tweeted about it..
Since traveling by train is much cheaper then taking flights, we boarded the night train and rode 8 hours to Venice. With the student discount card, the trip to Venice only cost us €28! It was quite a commotion in the beginning of the trip because OBB makes you print off your ticket rather than just using the electronic ticket on our phones. We didn’t know that until we boarded the train and the men weren’t happy. This is where being an American tourist comes in handy…you just have to explain that it was your first time booking the ticket and you had no idea. They wanted to make us pay 132 euro again for the three of us to get there but because I acted dumb they let us stay on. I do not whatsoever condone acting dumb but when you’re in an emergency, being a blonde American college student really comes in handy.
After some persuasion, the cranky OBB men let us off the hook and we settled into our six room compartment. We shared the small living quarters with four other people, one American student, a large old man, and a German guy who reads classics very late in the night. After eight hours of sleeping in the shape of a pretzel (Kailyn) we arrived to Venice.
It was raining when we stepped off the platform and needed to figure out the water bus schedules. So that was fun. But once we figured out how to purchase tickets and which route to take to get to the hostel, the water bus system was actually very convenient! You are able to buy a three day pass for 30 euro as opposed to a 7 euro ticket for a one-way trip. Considering there are only water roads, the one way ticket is not the most practical choice.
I expected Venice to be great, but it ended up being more wonderful than I ever imagined. After the first day, the weather was perfect, blue skies and even more blue water. It is easy to get lost in Venice, but that was our goal when going there. Emily, Kailyn and I would take turns going left, right, or straight. That was the best way for us to discover the little shops and restaurants on the way.
We did not spend much time in the tourist places on the island because the lines were ridiculously long. We were able to take pictures of the outside of Saint Marks Basilica, San Marco’s Square, and the Bridge of Sighs. We saved a lot of money and precious time skipping the museums and expensive restaurants. For breakfast and lunch, we went to super markets and picked up apples and bananas and really only ate when we were hungry. The only exception of this was gelato and coffee. I had a lot of both of those things while I was there.
I have discovered that I am scared to barter with street vendors.. Emily bartered with a man on the street selling selfie sticks and got him to drop his price almost 50%. I felt terrible. I almost asked her to give it up and walk away but she got her way and the selfie stick was the best thing that happened to us that whole trip. God bless. We named the selfie stick Phil. Phil the Photographer.
We spent the whole second day from 8 in the morning till 8:30 pm just in time for Kailyn to get a couple drinks from happy hour at the hostel. We woke up so early because we wanted to see the Cemetery Island and the Island of Murano as well as the rest of Venice. It was a long day!
The cemetery island was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. It is an island that’s sole purpose is a cemetery. (Hence the name) The island was beautiful with large trees, elaborate tombs, and seagulls everywhere. There are so many Venetians buried there that every 10 years bodies are exhumed to make room for more. It sounds kinda freaky but it was absolutely beautiful and a peaceful escape from the busy tourist traps in the city.
The next stop after the cemetery was Murano, the island famous for their hand-blown glass. As soon as you step off the water bus, you will see souvenir shops with blown glass. The trick is to avoid the stands and go further into the city where the real glass is made. There were so many different glass blown objects there. They ranged from a simple wine glass to an assortment of glass cookies. (Perfect for dieting for Greece) Instead of stopping at an expensive restaurant for lunch on the island, we headed to the supermarket and got lunch meats and bread. The whole lunch cost us a 7 euro between the three of us. We took our sandwiches, sat on a boat dock, and watched water taxis go up and down the streets.
After our picnic alongside the canal, we walked around just sight seeing and ran into a group of people just having a ball listening to a band play. We were taking videos of the band and they began to dance with us and twirl us around. It was a blast!! Emily initiated a selfie with just us girls and eventually everyone wanted to get in on it.
We were always so exhausted after a day of walking that we had no energy to leave the hostel once we got back. We spent our nights hanging out in the room and talking. It seems lame but we had a perfect view of the Grand Canal from our room and we shared the room with Koreans, an Australian, a couple Spaniards (different from Catalonians), and a nice girl from Sao Paulo. It was very nice getting to know them and I really wish I had added them on Facebook because I know they snagged a couple pictures of us.
Venice was the perfect way to kick off our spring break adventure. People kept telling me that two days was too much in Venice and that it is overrated. I couldn’t disagree more. I would have spent the whole spring break there if I hadn’t had exciting plans for the rest of the 15 days. Next on the list is Florence!!