We grabbed a quick cafe americano and brioche at the little cafe in the train station, then headed outside to wait.
The trains are very easy to use in Italy. More people take the trains than drive around Italy. A round trip ticket from Sacile to Venice is only 11 Euro per person. If you drove, you would have to pay for gas and parking, which could easily be 50 Euro for both. (And good luck trying to find a parking space!)
The one hour ride went very quickly, and we were headed out on our first adventure in VENICE!
I had only made two plans for our first trip to Venice: 1. I wanted to see San Marco's Square, 2. I wanted to ride in a gondola. I didn't even take a map of Venice with me because I just wanted to get lost. I wanted to see every nook and cranny I could find. It is an island, so you can't get too lost. :)
BUT, first we had to take a quick bathroom break. I'd heard that it's hard to find a public restroom in Venice, so I took advantage of the restrooms at the train station. It costs 1 Euro to use the restrooms there, but it's totally worth it because they are clean! (I'll spare you the pic of the bathroom:))
We left the train station and followed the crowd across our first bridge: Ponte Scalzi. I was already in love with Venice and all of the sights, and sounds...maybe not the smells. :/
We then headed away from the crowd, and down the first street. The "streets" are more like alleys. Most of the alleys are about one arms length wide. It can get interesting when they get crowded. :)
While Nick was looking at his phone trying to find San Marco's Square, I led us around the concrete jungle. I was amazed by the color! It also made me think of how funny it would be if I decided to paint our home in AZ this nice shade of orange. I think my neighbors would love it!
I can't get over all of the flowers everywhere! I love that Italians take pride in their flowers. It makes me want to plant a garden, too!
After walking about 5 minutes, we came across a BLUE pigeon! Yes, a blue pigeon. I've heard that Venice is known for the pigeons, but I have never heard of this! After doing a little research we found that we weren't crazy. There's a group of artists that dyed about 60 pigeons bright colors. The dye should come off in about 6 weeks. There were even some Italians that passed by that were stopping and staring. It was so unusual!
Gondolas will never get old for me. I love seeing gondolas! I might have taken about 100 photos of them, so I'll try and pick just a few. :)
I still can't imagine trying to navigate a boat 11 meters long, in a little canal. It baffles me!
Boats are the cars of Venice. If you see a boat, other than a gondola, you know that someone lives in the adjacent home. I can't imagine riding a boat to go get my groceries. I thought walking to a store to get groceries was strange just think about riding a boat!
A lot of people warned me about thieves in Italy. I thought they would be everywhere from the amount of warnings I heard. I think it's good to be wise and not go waving your wallet and camera around, but you don't have to be scared.
After about 40 minutes of walking we finally found San Marco's Square! It was beautiful...and very touristy...as expected.
There was an orchestra playing as we walked into the square at a nearby cafe. We stopped and listened for awhile. I felt dwarfed by the buildings in the square. Pictures just don't do it justice...but we had fun trying.
We also had fun taking silly photos. We started jumping in front of a few monuments back in DC before we left for Italy, and thought we would continue the tradition in Italy. My jumping photos didn't turn out as well because my hair kept going in my face, so here's a picture of Nick.
By this time, we were pretty hungry from walking, so we tried to find a place to eat that wasn't near the square. Most Italians observe Reprosso, which is a lunch break from 12-3pm. I still can't really understand this. Most people want to eat at those times, and you're going to take a break!!
We did manage to find one place that was open, and it was also in our price range. I had Pesto Gnocchi, and Nick had Lasagna. I wouldn't normally pick Italian food on a hot day, but we did..and it was delicious!
After lunch, we walked around trying to find a "good" price for a gondola ride. We've heard that you should try and haggle on prices in Italy, so we tried to haggle our gondola ride. The first gondolier we came across wanted 80 Euro for 45 minutes, and 160 Euro for the full 1.5 hours. My jaw literally dropped. That's about $100 for a gondola ride! For that price it better come with a full 5 course meal, and we would be serenaded. Wishful thinking! We told him we'd think about it, and we walked away. He then ran after us and offered to do a 30 minute tour for 60 Euro. We wanted to see if we could get a better deal, so we walked away again...big mistake.
We walked, and we walked, and we walked and couldn't find ANY other gondoliers. After about an hour of walking we decided to go back to the first place, but couldn't figure out how to get back. We eventually realized that all of the gondoliers had been on reposso. (Ugh.) I was ready to go home at this point. It was really HOT, and we walked about 6 miles in circles.
Nick asked to try one more street, and if we didn't find anyone we could go home. I agreed, and to my surprise we did find a gondolier. He gave us the same offer the first guy did, and we quickly told him we could get the ride for 60 Euro. He scoffed and walked over to his gondola to pick up a piece of paper. It was an official document that basically said all gondoliers have to charge the same price for the rides: 80 Euro for 45 minutes, and 160 for 1.5 hours. Boooo:( I still couldn't grasp paying THAT much, so we went searching for the first gondolier. We finally found him!
He told us he wouldn't give us the price he had originally quoted, and quickly looked away from us. (Haha! It was kind of cute watching the gondolier pout.) So we put on our sad faces, and said, "Pleeeeease." He said no again, so we walked away. The gondolier sitting next to him then jumped up and said he would do it for 60 Euro.:) Yayyyyyyyyyyy!
It was totally worth it, too! He told us a little history about Venice, and the fact that it's sinking. (scary!) I learned a few interesting facts: 1. Most people don't live/can't live on the first floor of the buildings because they're flooded from the rising sea level, 2. The gondoliers go through a year long training to become gondoliers, 3. It's passed down from generation to generation, 4. There are only about 450 gondolas and gondoliers, and there will never be more than that because it's passed down through families.
We passed by the home where Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp filmed part of The Tourist. You can actually rent it for $18,000 Euro. (I thought the gondolier said per night, and Nick thought it was per week. Either way...it's pricey!)
If you haven't seen The Tourist, he's in the foreground of the picture to the left.<--- (Just kidding:) Haha! If you haven't seen the movie The Tourist or you don't remember what the building looked like, it is the large pink building in the background of this photo.
The only disappointing part of the ride was that the gondolier didn't sing. Apparently, that's just in the movies. All in all, the gondola ride was totally worth the 60 Euro. It made our first trip to Venice complete!
We headed back to the train station after our gondola ride. We had a quick, and HOT trip back up to Sacile. Nick fell asleep on the train ride back...I'll spare you that picture as well. :) I loved, loved, loved every minute of Venice. I would highly recommend Venice to anyone!