European Excursion Day Eight: A Floating City And Some Swiss Chocolate
After a restless night on our Hogwarts Express we made it into Venice at 6:30 in the morning. Oh the joys of saving money by taking public transportation. Since it was still dark out we hung around the train station and waited for the sun to come out. Once it did we where off and into the most complicated city I’ve ever visited. Venice is a maze. Plain and simple the city is a labyrinth of dead ends, tiny walkways, rivers and bridges. Oh my goodness was it complicated to get around. Sam took control of the navigation and I was pretty relieved to not be in control of this puzzle.
For a bit about Venice. The city is a group of 118 small islands which are connected by bridges. Venice is a World Heritage Site because it is sinking. One day Venice will no longer be there and it’s on the list of things to see before they are gone. It is actually rather sad to think that this beautiful city will someday be located under water. The way you get around Venice is through walking down small pathways, I say this because there are no roads and the walkway is about three people wide, or by canal and water taxi or gondola. This makes for a very unique exploration of this sinking city. We walked down street lined with bakeries and mask shops. At some points I even had to walk behind Sam because we couldn’t walk side by side. Venice is definitely not a place for people who have claustrophobic issues. We made our way though these tiny streets running into dead ends and crossing countless bridges. On our way we saw the market where Venetians by their meats and vegetables. Since Venice is an island everything is imported.
Our first big stop was the Grand Canal. This is the biggest area for water transportation and the main canal in Venice. The canal is lined with boats, water taxis and gondolas alike. One of the best things about Venice is how beautiful the water is. I was surprised to see such blue water. Later in the day we ate our lunch right by the canal. At the cafe I had the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten. Oh my heavens I did not want it to end. I ate it so slow trying to savor every bite. The service was also fabulous and the waiter gave us free Italian pudding for dessert. Italy sure did treat us right in the free dessert area. Yumm.
The other big place we visited is the Piazza San Marco or in English Saint Mark’s Square. It is the biggest square in Venice. The square is dominated by St. Mark’s Basilica. This is a Catholic cathedral built in the 1000’s. It is a very fancy design mainly consisting of gold accents, mosaic ceilings and floor, not to mention the statues all around. Needless to say this was another fabulous cathedral showing how opulent an Italian basilica can be. Also features of the square include Dodge’s Palace, the Campanile and museums. We spent a good amount of time sitting in the square and by the water looking out at the other islands. Plus I was this guy fall on some steps by the water. They were steps clearly to get in and out of a boat. I imagine they were very slippery and he should not have been trying to take a picture from them. The great thing was after he got up he looked around and thought nobody had seen his little accident, but I did. Oh yes sir I saw you make a fool of your self and now you have to walk around all day with a wet butt. Anyways, we spent the rest of our time in Venice looking at shops and navigating our way back to the area where we would catch our shuttle bus to the airport. There isn’t a whole lot more to say about our time in Venice. Most of it was us walking around a little confused, but loving how gorgeous the city is.
We caught our shuttle, stood for nearly the whole ride until the nice Asian man, who was taking up two seats, allowed me to sit down. Then it was just waiting for our plane in the airport before we could take off for our final destination. I will say they Venice airport is very fancy, there were designer stores all over the place. I’ve never been in one where there was a Louis Vuitton and Burberry store.
When we landed in Switzerland again we didn’t go through customs or get a stamp (though we would get one when we leave). The Basel airport is actually located in France and the airport is split into a French and a Swiss side. So we had to make sure to exit to the Swiss side. Once through the doors we saw my friends dad. I should explain the reason why we got to visit Switzerland was because I have a friend in university who’s parents live in Switzerland. When I told her about my travel plans she suggested that we visit her parents. And let me tell you right now. It was a very good idea. Favorite part of the airport is that her dad had a sign with our names on it. I’ve always wanted to be picked up from an airport by a guy holding a sign. I can now cross that off my bucket list. After making introduction we boarded a bus to get into Basel. Again we didn’t pay for the bus or the tram that we would take out to their neighborhood. We are such scoundrels. At least this time we had an adult with us. We had a mini tour before going to the house. I knew that I loved Switzerland after about 10 minutes. There was a festival going on when we got into the city. In every square there were carnival rides set up. Along with food vendors and games. It was all so magical at night with the squares lit up. We even got to ride the ferris wheel and saw the city from above. We went up even higher then the cathedral next to the wheel. Ferris wheel make me a bit nervous, but the view was well worth my fear. We then caught a tram out of the city center and made our way to their house. Here we meet Riley my friend’s little sister and their two dogs, Conrad and Beckham. We ate homemade chili and fresh bread. After dinner Riley played her accordion for us while I ate some delicious Swiss chocolate. I ate so much chocolate that weekend it is a little insane. We went off to bed a little early because we ere exhausted from our travels. Though it may have been the beginning of the end it was an amazing place to finish our journey.
Until next time…