Italy Recap #5: Venice
We spent our last day in Florence bumming around, visiting the open air market, checking out the David (he is magnificent, and I think my grandpa suggested that he used to look like David back when he went to see the David), and we bought our train tickets to leave for Venice the next morning. Apparently the Florence-Venice train can be crowded (and it gets more expensive the longer you wait to buy tickets), so we didn’t want to wait until the day of to get tickets.
We grabbed lunch from the market and heated it up in our apartment. (We chose veggie pastas — not the brains featured above.) After naptime, we walked some more, and Lil and I took her first carousel ride. She was not a big fan and spent much of the ride with a vice grip on her mama.
We woke early the following morning and grabbed the train to Venice. It was fantastic – super-fast and clean! We used the water bus system in Venice, and arrived at our hotel mid-afternoon. The hotel itself was pretty bare bones, but the location (near the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal) was excellent. At this stop, we discovered the difficulty in all of us sharing a hotel room: Lil needed lights out around 7 and J and I sat in the dark/quiet from then until we were ready to sleep. Thank goodness for wifi! :)
We let Lil walk the town (she’s sitting on the front stoop of our hotel above) a little. She was still teetering a LOT, and I love looking back at these first-walking pictures because you can really tell how wobbly she is by her hand positioning. She is now a completely confident walker, no awkward hand positions!
As we were walking, we reached a busy street and I had to pick Lil up. The street was so crowded, and we were so close to other pedestrians that at one point Lil was able to reach out and almost grab an apple that a teenage girl was eating. Awkward!
Luckily, we were near some outdoor markets and could stop at one to buy Lil her very own apple.
And we let her run a little more since she had spent most of the day in our laps or strapped to our backs. Apparently she must have looked extra wobbly because a sweet Australian couple came by to tell us that she was going to smash her face into the corner of this post. (Luckily she didn’t.)
I can’t get enough of this little curly head!
We wandered a bit that evening — here’s J and Lil on the Rialto bridge overlooking the grand canal.
And we saw a hot pink/purple pigeon. (Yikes)
More Lil & Dada on the Grand Canal:
After dinner, Lil and I went back to the hotel to put her to sleep, and Jason took the camera and walked around.
The next morning, we woke, ate breakfast at the hotel, and headed towards St Mark’s Square.
St. Mark’s Square was undergoing some construction, and we were a bit disappointed that ads were covering half of the buildings. We felt this same disappointment when we saw churches and other historical buildings that were under construction featuring ads. At least St. Mark’s itself wasn’t covered in advertisements.
Our disappointment soon turned into disgust. A million pigeons worth of disgust.
Of course, our daughter was totally into the pigeons and wanted to chase them. (ew ew ew ew ew)
We started noticing that other tourists were photographing Lil chasing the pigeons. I’m still not sure what I think about this. (It’s pretty funny. But, I’d never have the guts to just start photographing someone else’s kid… and why do they need pictures of my kid? What if she doesn’t want her photo taken? On the other hand, I plaster her photo all over this blog without her permission…)
We chased pigeons for a while. She was so happy, and Jason and I were enjoying watching her happiness. (While simultaneously being terrified that our wobbly walker was going to faceplant in pigeon poo.)
We decided that the line to go into St Mark’s was entirely too long, and opted to walk the city more, grab lunch, and return later in the day.
I sat on a bench just outside the Doge’s Palace to nurse Lil for a minute. Honestly, continuing to nurse through our vacation was probably the best decision we made. SO easy to fill her belly whenever she needed, we didn’t pack any extra feeding supplies (i.e., bottles, formula, etc), and I didn’t worry much about how much real food she’d eat at meals because I knew she was getting something nutritious from me. (I also didn’t worry about eating seconds and thirds on the gelato since I was using all of those extra calories to feed Lil. :) ) I didn’t feel any strange gazes for nursing a toddler, and I pretty much just nursed her wherever/whenever she’d need it (churches being the exception). I hate to brag, but I’ve even mastered the nursing-in-the-ergo move. Anyways, I know nursing toddlers isn’t for everyone (and I NEVER thought I’d be one to do it), but it really worked for us.
Although, admittedly, there were a few awkward moments. Like when this seagull brought a dead pigeon over near the bench I was nursing Lil on and proceeded to eat it. Within minutes, there was a crowd of photo-takers surrounding the seagull, shooting towards me. So, undoubtedly, there I am, nursing Lil in other people’s vacation pictures. Awkward.
We walked for a while, and then sat and had a long pizza lunch on the water. The breeze was cooler near the water (thankfully!) but it was another 100+ degree day.
We tried to leave much of the touristy parts of Venice behind, walking through less popular areas instead. The Ergo carrier was crucial here (a stroller would not work — too many tourists, too many bridges with steps).
Our tourbook called Venice an “elegant pile of decay” – a fairly accurate description, I think. It’s amazing, the history, the architecture, the series of canals and bridges. And it’s obvious that Venice has seen better days. Still, we really enjoyed our time there, especially once we ditched the other tourists and found the back streets.
Also, we got lost. Big time. We were like, “we’re on an island! we can’t get lost!” Riiiiiggghhhhttt.
Late in the afternoon, we made it back to St. Mark’s square to go into the church.
No pictures of the inside, but it was AMAZING. Millions of tiny gold leaf tiles set up on the ceiling and walls in mosaics. Simply beautiful.
We paid the extra to climb the steps and head into the churches balconies, and were fortunate to find another traveler to take a family pic:
The background almost looks fake. So incredible.
And then, it was time for more pigeons (of course).
Here she’s showing me what they do:
And then? More walking:
We ate dinner at a small pizzeria on the grand canal, and then took the water bus up and down the canal. We considered taking a gondola ride, since it’s the essential Venice experience, but decided that we probably wouldn’t get much enjoyment out of restraining our mobile toddler to keep her from jumping into the water for an hour. The bus was a safer, bigger, and cheaper option, and once we found seats, it was a pretty nice little cruise.
Lil made friends with the lady sitting next to us, wanting to touch a big green ring that she had on her finger. (Lil is SO into jewelry, which is funny because I don’t usually wear much of it. Where does she learn these things?)
We captured another family photo after the cruise.
And then we used the self-timer to capture another photo of our fam in St Mark’s Square. I think it turned out pretty cool.
We stayed and listened to the music playing in the square for a bit. Street vendors were everywhere, trying to sell us glow in the dark helicopter thingys — and they were SO aggressive about it. When we couldn’t take any more, we left, heading back to the hotel for the evening.
The next morning, we were up early, headed for Milan via Verona…