The final stop on our trip was Venice.
Friends and family that have been to Venice before advised us not to spend too much time in this city-- most people we talked to actually said that you only needed a day in Venice. And really, for us-- it was all we needed. It's the most expensive city we stayed in-- by far-- and so we opted to only spend one night in Venice. After a LONG train ride from Levanto (6 hours) we arrived in Venice just before 5 pm. And we were feeling a little tired :)
But Venice in the evening is quite beautiful-- so after checking into our hotel we wandered around for a while and took in the sights...
We had dinner along one of the smaller canals-- it was a little bit chilly once the sun set-- but it was kind of fun to sit out along the water, under the lanterns all bundled up eating pasta after dark...
We were up bright and early the next morning ready to explore. We had to catch the train back to Rome that night (our journey back to Vancouver would begin the next morning) so we left our bags at reception in our hotel and took off for the day.
If you think you can navigate your way around Venice without a map-- I'm going to tell you right now that your can't. Even with a map you can expect to get lost at least twice.
I don't have much else to say about Venice-- other than I enjoyed the best pasta of our trip while we were there (ravioli in a tomato cream sauce-- yum) and the four cheese pizza was pretty amazing too.
Oh, and it's pretty picturesque too...
Loved watching these elderly guys rowing away-- some kind of gondola rowing team I guess...
Gondola repair shop... maybe?
St. Mark's Square-- crazy busy... crazy beautiful.
And after a day of sightseeing in Venice we started our trek back to Rome-- the craziest 3.5 hours of our entire trip. I had reserved us seats on a train back to Rome-- it's about a 3 hour ride-- we were going to arrive at the Termini station at around 9 pm. The problem was-- the hotel we were staying at was right beside the airport (since we were flying back the next morning we wanted to stay somewhere close) and the last shuttle from the airport to our hotel left at 10 pm. If we made it there too late we'd left at the mercy of the Italian taxi drivers-- expensive and stressful :) So, when we got to the main Venice train station I noticed that there was a earlier train leaving in a few minutes-- it would get us to Rome over half an hour ahead of schedule. We ran to the ticket office and asked if we could switch our reservations to the earlier train-- they let us do it-- so we RAN like crazy for the train that was leaving in a few minutes. We made it.
Three hours later we arrived in Rome-- I checked the list of departures and saw that the train to the airport terminal was leaving in FIVE minutes. Our Eurail passes didn't work on the regional trains so we RAN to the booth to buy tickets for the regional train and RAN (with all our bags) for the train that was about to leave. We made it.
The train was going to arrive at the airport at 8:53. The second last shuttle to our hotel was leaving the airport at 9. We had NO idea where we were going to find this one little bus at the Rome airport so Doug called the hotel and asked if we were going to make it and how to find the shuttle. The lady gave us directions and said that if we ran, and if we made no wrong turns, we MIGHT make it to the shuttle. Well, the train arrived and we took off-- running as fast as we could. Keep in mind that I had knee surgery just a few months ago-- this was the first time that I had attempted to run since then so you can imagine that it wasn't pretty. Well, we ran and ran and ran-- through the terminal to the airport, through the all the parking lots to the little parking spot where our bus would be waiting. Well we made it. With 2 minutes to spare. We crawled into the bus-- sweaty and exhausted-- and pumped that we'd managed to make it from all the way from Venice to our hotel in Rome in 3.5 hours.
And that wasn't even half as exciting as what happened the next morning at the airport. We had already done the online check in with our flights and only had carry on bags so we figured that arriving at the airport 3 hours before our flight was departing would be MORE than enough time. Well people-- it sure wasn't. Getting though security in Rome was an absolute nightmare. An absolute gong show. Everyone complains about Heathrow-- but Heathrow was an absolute dream in comparison. There were thousands of people waiting to get though the most inefficient security screening process I've ever seen. We waited and waited and the line was moving SO slow. In our line there was ONE metal detector/screening area for hundreds of people. Everyone was super worked up. I saw all these teeny tiny little Italian grandmas get out of line, march up to these big security guards, and tear a strip out of them-- in Italian. Well-- we made it through security in the nick of time, and started running (yes-- again) for our gate. We made it there with 15 minutes to spare. So if you're ever wondering how early you need to get to the airport to fly out of Rome on a Monday morning-- 3 hours is not enough!
Well-- our flights home were uneventful-- thank goodness. We got bumped up to business class on our cross Atlantic flights to and from London so we were more than comfortable. And flying without kids? A dream. I don't know-- Westjet's Kargo Kids idea seems pretty great to me :) I'm joking. Kind of :)
Anyhow-- that concludes the recap of our trip! It was amazing-- and wonderful. It was also wonderful to see our kids again after being away from them for 12 days! And almost two weeks later-- it feels like it was just a dream...