On Tuesday night we attempted to get our suitcases all nicely packed with (1) stuff to wear cycling while in Italy, (2) stuff to wear sightseeing and hiking around and touring while in Italy, and (3) some fancy duds to wear to our friends Tad & Kate's wedding festivities at the end of the month in Florence. We also took apart our bikes and packed them up in their individual suitcases (so cool!) It turns out, however, that trying to pack three different sets/types of clothing, plus a bicycle and all its accessories into two suitcases that have to be under 50 lbs each is no small feat. Good thing those Kryptonite U-locks we're bringing are pretty light, right?
After quite a bit of removing, repacking, weighing, and reweighing, we worked it out!
We rejiggered many of the smaller heavier things into Kevin's regular (smaller than mine) suitcase (locks, some bike tools, etc.) and then took everything else that pushed the bags over 50 lbs and put it all into a giant computer bag I used a few times for my 17" Macbook pro (before I realized it was too heavy a computer to carry as a shoulder bag) and carried that on as one of my "personal items." So now, I totally look like one of those old ladies who carries a handbag the size of a suitcase as her "purse." And it's heavier than my big laptop, by far. Oh well.
We'd had such grand ideas of stuffing all our cycling-related clothing items around our bikes in their suitcases as padding and storage, therefore freeing up our regular bags for other clothes, but it turns out that the bike plus all of its accessories plus heavy-duty suitcases weighs in at about 52 lbs. Oops.
We left our house with more bags than we've ever traveled with, ever (but cool! a bike is part of that!!) on Wednesday to catch our flight (Portland-Amsterdam-Venice). Our friend Kyle (Where is Kyle Now?) is having his Airstream worked on in Portland and hanging out at our house while we're in Italy and his home is in the shop. He's soaking up some super-fast Wi-Fi, cable television, and an address to ship things to! Kyle was sweet enough to also give us a ride to the airport.
Here's Kevin, with two bikes in hard-sided heavy-duty Samsonite suitcases, two regular suitcases, two laptop bags, and one GIGANTIC old lady purse:
The flights were easy and the bikes arrived intact and we're now in Venice! Oh yeah, here's our stop in Amsterdam. We plan to come back here with our bikes next time and stay a bit longer than 2 hours:
Okay, so back to Venice. We took a taxi to our hotel (Hotel President, on the mainland in Mestre), checked in, and took two trips up the tiny elevator to our room (one person/one bike suitcase/one regular suitcase per elevator ride) and then decided to put our bikes together to make sure everything traveled nicely. No issues at all!
We cleaned up a little and headed out to explore. The island of Venice is about 6km from our hotel, so we hopped on a bus and were on the island in about 15 minutes. We purchased a couple of 36-hour tourist passes so that while we're here we can hop on and off all busses and vaporettos (water taxis) as often as we please (25 euros each).
We got on the #2 vaporetto that travels up and down the Grand Canal and headed toward San Marco and wow! A lot of people say "Oh, Venice, yeah, it's cool, but it's touristy and you really can just see it in a day" but we loved it, and had such a wonderful afternoon and evening just wandering by boat and on foot exploring this magical place. So, I have a TON of photos for you guys (and this is after paring it down...and I'm usually such a good editor!) But you said you wanted photos, so here they are:
We got off here at the Piazza San Marco and explored the square and took photos of cool stuff. The Basilica was closed so we'll try to pop inside tomorrow when we go back by there.
I can't tell you how many times I saw photos of this building (the Palazzo Ducale, or Doge's Palace) in art history classes:
After San Marco we opted to just get lost a bit. You can't get too lost though on an island. Some shots from the wanderings:
Follow the signs to get back to the vaporetto:
We stopped for wine and snacks at a bacaro called Bancogiro. The back door opens to outside seating on the Grand Canal, and it had this view:
A glass of wine, some prosciutto, several kinds of cheese, smoked tuna carpaccio, and some gnocchi with duck and greens -- it was all good but the atmosphere was incredible, and that's just fine because that's what we're in Venice for: the atmosphere. After what ended up being dinner, we explored a bit more before hopping on a vaporetto headed back toward the start of the Grand Canal.
From the Rialto Bridge:
These dark shots are some of my favorites!
Here's where we ate dinner (outside there, on the left):
The Rialto Fish Market at night, all closed up:
Festive restaurants on the canal:
We're back at our hotel, working, looking at photos, and preparing for one more day in Venice. Here's our hotel:
Yeah, it's kinda boring, a little hot and at full blast the AC doesn't do much at all, but so what. We won't be in it much at all. (Plus, free Wi-Fi!)
(p.s. Told you there were a lot of pictures!)
Also, I meant to post a link in this post to this article by our friend Barry Yeoman. Barry's writing is such a pleasure to read and this essay captures such a rich and authentic view of Venice.