The trip from Vienna to Venice was very... interesting. We had decided to kill two birds with one stone and book a double room on the train that we could sleep in while traveling to Venice. When we arrived in our cubicle (that is what it reminded me of) we just saw a bench and that was about it. All the passengers (including us) were looking around trying to figure out if there was something we needed to do to put the beds down or what we should do next (sorry this next picture is blurry, I didn't realize it when I took it). Fortunately they eventually came around and showed us where the beds were hiding and we were quite surprised they managed to fit two beds in there!
Then they brought us "dinner." We though it was hilarious that they would go through all this effort for that one little bowl of fruit. The tray said "enjoy your meal." Well luckily we had already had dinner so it was a nice little snack.
After dinner they came around and put the beds down. It actually was not as bad as I had imagined it being. Natali and I watched a movie and went to bed. The beds were better than expected and the breakfast was actually pretty good. It was a cramped room so moving around was pretty much impossible.
Venice is amazing, especially from an engineering perspective. The methods used to create the foundations of the city over 1000 years ago are really impressive and the waterways are really neat as well. From a photographer's perspective (Natali's), Venice is amazing because each turn results in a new scene with bridges (over 140 total in Venice), water, and vintage buildings. Speaking of the buildings, Natali and I decided that the best way to describe the buildings are that they are "decoratively decaying" because a majority of the buildings look like pieces of the structure are falling off but in a very vintage/interesting way. I'd compare it to the super expensive pants that are all worn out to look old and used that are so popular (but Natali would say that's a terrible comparison for the romantic city of Venice).
VENICE DAY 1
Anyway, back to us. We arrived in Venice at 9:00 AM so we had a full day in front of us. We had a few hours before we could check into our place so we did one of the must-do items on our list: got lost in Venice. This is very, very easy to do. The whole city is like a large labyrinth. The smallest alley can turn into a large road and a large road can abruptly end or get cut off by one of the waterways. We got lost many times in Venice, but this time we did it on purpose. Anyone that goes to Venice should definitely have enough time to just get lost and enjoy the best attraction there: Venice itself. We wandered around and found things like the Rialto Bridge and other little streets and alleys.
We got situated in our Venice apartment which was right on one of the small waterways. The windows in our room were right over the water so we got to enjoy the boats and gondolas passing by. We made our way over to St. Mark's Square and just roamed around and took pictures of the square. It was a bummer because a large portion of St. Mark's Basilica was being renovated from the outside so we didn't get a great picture of the front of the full building.
We were torn all day on whether or not we should do a Gondola ride. We had heard that it was way overpriced and that it was a tourist trap but we had also heard that it was a "must-do" while in Venice. In the end we decided to just do it. We hit it just right because after 7:00 the price goes up another 20 EUR but we got there at 6:55 so we still got the cheaper price. The gondaleer was great and pointed out interesting things and sang a little bit. Although it was expensive, I still think that if you visit Venice that you have to take a gondola. Look for the ones that are off on their own in one of the smaller canals. We saw some really touristy places that looked like a gondola traffic jam and didn't look fun. We were mostly alone on our ride and it was really nice.
We went back and visited St. Marks square a little bit longer and got some night pictures of the square but we didn't stay out too late because getting lost in Venice can be quite exhausting.
VENICE DAY 2
The next day we headed back over the Rialto Bridge and back to St. Mark's Square. We decided to wait in the line to go inside and see St. Mark's Basilica. We went into some of the other churches in Venice and thought that most of them weren't really worth going in but St. Mark's was awesome. The ceilings are all gold colored and show different people and scenes. The most impressive thing is that they are all mosaics, so the whole ceiling was made by placing tiny pieces of colored tile or rock up on the ceiling to form the pictures. Pictures weren't allowed but we snuck just one.
I thought the Basilica was very interesting and it also has some very interesting history. For example, it is the resting place of St. Mark but St. Mark was buried somewhere else after his death. The Venetians thought this was horrible so two of them went and "stole" his body and brought the bones back to Venice and buried them under the Basilica. This mosaic depicts when the two men bring St. Mark back to the Basilica.
There are other things in the building which were stolen or brought from other places. The most famous (besides St. Mark) are the four horses that are right on top of the main entrance. They were taken from Constantinople and brought to Venice (and we learned during our visit to Istanbul that there are clearly still some hard feelings about the Venetians stealing those haha). We unfortunately didn't get a picture of these cause of the construction.
Right next door to St. Mark's Basilica is the Doge's Palace. This is the place where the Doge (Duke) resided. It is pretty cool because it has no walls and really no defenses. It was like the Doges were saying that they were so powerful that they didn't need those things. Venice as a whole doesn't have outer defenses because the water is so shallow around it that large boats can't get close enough to attack.
Sorry if this is boring but I think knowing a little of the history helps to bring the place to life. So we went into the palace and just wandered around. Here are some pictures of the outside of the courtyard and the first staircase into the main building. Once inside we weren't allowed to take pictures (Natali hates that) so we don't have any of the rooms.
At the end of all the rooms you can go to the prisons which were connected to the palace with a bridge called the "Bridge of Sighs." It is called this because of a writer (forgot his name) who once wrote that this is where the prisoners would take one last look over Venice, think of their fate, and sigh.
We then went wandering around again. We found another church that we would recommend entering called Saint Mary of the Friars. It has some amazing art in it by Titian and some others and they are still where they were intended to be left. These were great but the coolest thing we found in here was the twin sculpture of one that we found in Vienna. Canova had made and designed the tomb for one of the churches in Vienna. After his death, they used his same design and made this one for his own grave. We loved finding these kinds of connections between places we went during our Europe trip.
We then went for some more random pictures around the waterways of Venice as the sun went down. As you can see, it was pretty amazing...