After what proved to be a very long and a little bit hectic train ride, we arrived in Venice.  It is a city like no other.  We’ve been to a few other cities with canals now (Amsterdam, and Brugge) but Venice is in a whole other category.  The best thing about Venice wasn’t a particular sight but just being there and experiencing the city.

on a side street/canal
famous gondolas
the Grand Canal
on the Rialto Bridge overlooking the Grand Canal

The first night in Venice, we had some apertivo AKA Italian happy hour at a local bar.  The best part is they have free little snacks and appetizers out for you to graze on while you sip your cocktail.  We also went to dinner at a Rick Steves recommended restaurant that was de-lish!

 The next morning after we snagged some smoothies for breakfast, we were walking over St. Mark’s Square and it started POURING.  Everyone scrambled to find a little space under an awning.  Even with a tiny awning and an umbrella for one, we got soaked, and did I mention I was wearing sandals?  We waited it out and finally the rain let up a bit. We started ducking into shops along the way.  We stopped in a shop that sells handmade Carnevale (Carnival/Mardi Gras) masks.  Carnevale is a huge deal in Venice, these masks are iconic of Venice almost as much as the gondolas are.

Still waiting for the rain to ease up!

Finally, clear skies!  We made it to the square with all the other tourists.

In front of Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica.

In addition to the mask shop, we also stopped in an interesting wine shop.  It wasn’t your typical wine shop selling bottles of wine.  This man had several wooden vats of wine with what looked like a garden hose attached to them.  Hubby was very excited by this one of a kind opportunity and decided we had to get some.  So the man (who didn’t speak any English) gave us a huge water bottle full of wine.  And it was only about 3 Euros!  I’m ashamed to say we took no pictures inside the store…fail.  So while in St. Mark’s Square we listened to a free audio tour from our Rick Steves app.  We used his tours quite often on this trip, and it was a great!  We have become Rick Steves groupies officially.  They were free, and it’s nice to have a simple explanation of things you are looking at, makes the experience much more meaningful, I highly recommend them.

After a rocky start, the day is looking up with wine and Rick.

In front of the “bridge of sighs”-bridge leading prisoners from the court to the prison.

Evening cruise around the canals.
St. Mark’s Square from the water.
A beautiful Venetian sunset.
Rialto at night.

We found out later that there was a tornado in Venice this same day!  We didn’t see it, or weren’t aware of it, but saw it in the papers the next day.  Even with rain and tornados Venice is an amazing place to visit.  Ciao ciao Venezia!  Next stop, Firenze!