30.06.2010 80 °F
Heidi and I decided to spend one more day in Venice after Alicia departed us. I especially wanted to make sure to soak in all the beauty Venice has to offer. We started the day off by wandering through the fish and fruit markets, stopping to get breakfast (fresh fruit, not fresh fish) and a granita (popular frozen drink in Venice, coffee flavored for us). Before long, we continued on to the same restaurant on the Grand Canal that we had finished our night at the evening before. Instead of wine, we had sparkling water and cappuccino while we wrote (journal for Heidi, blog for me) about the amazing experiences we were having. After a while, they kicked us out of our table, apparently looking for people who were willing to spend more money than us. We continued on, roaming through the streets and over the canals until we found another restaurant where we could sit in the sun and relax. Although it wasn't located on the Grand Canal, it may have been even more charming. Situated in a small plaza next to a canal was the perfect opportunity to people watch as the locals breezed by on foot and by boat.
During our time in Venice, we had seen many people sipping on bright orange and red colored drinks. There was one plaza in particular where we saw these drinks, as well as young Italians and tourists who were gathering in groups to chat, drink and watch the world cup. We asked a woman nearby what exactly we were going to be getting ourselves into, and she told us this drink was called a Spritz (made up of wine, alcohol and club soda). Heidi and I ordered one of each, which turned out to be a big mistake! We enjoyed long, slow sips of the orange version and barely managed to choke down the red version. Certainly not a drink we would recommend. Next we headed back to the shop we had bought our wine in yesterday and asked Dario for another recommendation. He insisted we try a new red, which we ended up buying for the staggering price of 1.50 euros a bottle. Not a bad deal for local wine right out of the barrel. We took our wine, along with the thick crust pizza we couldn't pass up, to a nearby plaza where we sat on the steps and watched the city pass by in front of us. After a while, we heard jazz coming through the streets and followed the sound until we came to another plaza with a live band. We sat and enjoyed the music for quite a while before deciding it was time to get some more food. Heidi and I had been wanting to try the calamari, so we found a local bar that served it. We filled up on the calamari, hesitating only for a moment when we realized that there was a sardine or two mixed in. Our last stop for the night was some amazing Chinese food right outside our hostel. You can only have so much bread and pasta before you need a little break!
We packed our day full today. We started in Venice, did a day trip in Verona and then headed to Lake Como for the night. Catching a train to Verona this morning was quite the challenge. We had checked times the day before, but when we arrived at the station we were told there was a strike and that not all the trains were running. When we were finally able to use the self-service ticketing machines, there was a malfunction that said there were no seats available. When we asked one of the station employees, he said to buy tickets on the train. When we asked the conductor, he said we needed to by tickets in the station... I thought, “Can we get everyone together for a little meeting? There seems to be some confusion.” Eventually, we were informed that the strike was more of a possibility than a guarantee, and after waiting in line for quite a while, we purchased tickets for a later train that we were told may or may not show up. Luckily, our train did show up and we were off to Verona.
Verona, the city made famous by Romeo and Juliet, is a cute place that we explored very little of. In our few hours there, we took a bus to the city center and wandered the streets, took pictures of the local arena (the red-headed stepchild to the Colosseum) and stumbled upon Juliet's fake house. Yes, that's right. There is a house, museum and even tomb for this fictional character. The most interesting part of Juliet's house, which we spent all of two minutes outside of, was the walls lined with love notes written by people all over the world. We even added one of our own...
We finished our time in Verona with the most amazing meal at Osteria al Duca (good work, Rick). I had bacon wrapped mozzarella, followed by meatballs and pasta, while Heidi enjoyed sauteed vegetables and pasta with tomato sauce, eggplant, cheese and basil. The meal also included water, wine and espresso. Definitely worth the twelve euro it cost us!
After lunch we hopped on a train and now we are headed for Lake Como. We will be staying in Verenna, one of the many small towns that line the lake. Varenna is home to only 800 people, but I expect that the many tourists liven it up a little. It doesn't really matter; Heidi and I are excited about enjoying the lake, hiking and the relaxation that comes with the small town feel.