Monday, May 30, 2011

Italy Part 2: Venice and Florence

Before traveling to venice I looked up how to get from the train station to Ca D'Oro hotel, where the Nichols' were staying and I was to meet them. The website said to take shuttle bus number 1 and get off at the Ca D'Oro much easier could it be? Well, I walked out of the train station and found myself, ignorantly, standing in front of a canal and wondering where the street was where I picked up the bus. I soon realized that the canal was the street, and that "shuttle bus one" was actually a boat, cool! Asked around, hopped on the boat, 20 minutes or so later I got off at my stop and found the hotel. Contrary to my belief it actually wasn't that close to the stop which seemed silly to me since it has the same name as the stop? I asked the receptionist for the room number and up to 205 I went.

How funny (and awesome) it was to knock on the door of a hotel in venice, a week and a half after deciding to buy a plane ticket, and see Brendan, Kyle, and Alyssa Nichols! It was a bit rainy and they traveled from Rome that morningso we rested up a bit before we headed out for lunch and the Gallerie dell’Accademia. The museum was pretty good, although it didn't have the best layout. Something to note if you're traveling in Italy, especially in the north, lunch is only served, for the most part,until 2pm. After that you can find some pizza or pasta (what else would you want?!) at some places but not full menus. Back to the hotel to change and get ready for dinner then out for the first of 3 wonderful and entertaining dinners with the Nichols. Not eating pork or most seafood limitsthe options but my pasta and veggies were deelish! The tiramisu for dessert was amazing as well.

Monday we decided to walk to the main part of the city instead of taking the boat which was a great idea. We made a quick stop at the Rialto market, a cleaner version of the Jerusalem shuk, and continued on to Piazza San Marco. We toured the Basilica and the Bell Tower before going into Palazzo Ducale, or Doge's Palace. I was in love with the floors in the Basilica and the bell tower gave amazing views of Venice. We had some panini's for lunch and then split up for some free time the rest of the afternoon. Brendan and I went to Harry's, the bar that invented the Bellini and where Hemmingway (among others) was a regular. The Bellini was certainly not cheap but it was delicious and I'm glad we splurged. We walked back to the hotel and rested a bit before going on our Gondola ride! The ride was great, Mr. and Mrs. Nichols brought along wine, cheese, crackers, and bread and the tour around the city was beautiful. After the ride we went to dinner at a place we saw on one of the canals during the ride. I had yummy tortellini. We (the kids, haha) had some fruity alcoholic drinks after dinner and then walked around our neighborhood, had a few more drinks at and outdoor bar and went back. Tuesday morning we set off for the last stop, Florence.

After arriving in Florence and dropping our stuff off at the hotel we met up with Alyssa's friend and her mom for lunch. We walked up the 462 stairs of the Duomo cathedral to experience the breathtaking views of Florence. 2+ hours of waiting in line later we finally saw the David...and wow, was it worth it. It was said that after seeing the David, because of it's immense perfection, it is not necessary or worth it to see any other sculptures. I truly felt this while walking around the rest of the museum and quickly passing the many other sculptures. Well, okay, maybe I was just tired after waiting in line so long.

We got a bit lost on the way back to the hotel but arrived just in time for Mr. Nichols to climb under the closing gate of the corner store and buy some wine and pizza for a pre-dinner appetizer. We went up to the roof of the hotel for another drink at the bar before heading off to dinner, and the best meal of my life. I am not exaggerating, Peperoncino was the name of the restaurant and it was amazing. Our waitress teased me a lot while we had our appetizers and wine, she was pretty funny. She poured me maybe one sip of wine into my glass, maybe she could tell I had already had three drinks before dinner? I ordered Cappellacci filled with pecorino cheese and walnuts on butter and sage. And I think there was a little bit of heaven on the side, too. I am not a slow eater and I ate this pasta so slow, savoring every bite, and I was legitimately sad when I finished my last bite. At the end of dinner the waitress gave us girls, Mrs. Nichols, Alyssa, and me, hand-made ashtrays...kind of weird but a nice gesture! We walked back to the hotel and had a few more drinks on the roof (limoncello!) before calling it a night. Well, actually, before taking a quick dip in the roof-top pool and then calling it a night.

Brendan and Kyle left in the morning and Alyssa and I spent most of the day at the pool. My flight was moved from 11pm to 1am so I took my time taking the train to Verano for the trek back home. Note to self: do not try and bring peanut butter, contact solution, body lotion, or mousse back into Israel next time...I had to throw it all out. In my defense, I brought the peanut butter FROM Israel and had already eaten at least half of it, but contact solution? c'mon security man, give me a break! I thought only the US was that strict on flights.

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