In Austria, the typical workday is slightly longer than the average workday in the States. However, the benefit of this is that on Friday’s hardly a soul works a full day. In an effort to fit in to the European way of doing things, I too left work early and departed on a weekend adventure. (My last with Conner, Trisha, and Rebecca, at least this go around!) We hopped into my company loaned silver VW Golf, luggage in tow, and hit the road.
Our destination…Venice, Italy.
A few years ago while still an undergrad, I spent some time on a junior’s abroad trip in the southern part of Italy, Sicily, and Tunisia. Ever since that trip, I’ve always known that I wanted to explore other parts of Italy, but didn’t know if or when the opportunity would arise. One of the top sights on my list of places to visit was none other than Venice.
I was a little nervous about the drive down to Venice. The receptionist warned me before I left that the traffic laws in Italy are very, very strict. In order to get from one place to another, you typically have to enter a toll road. These toll roads time stamp when you enter and leave the road. Not only do you have to pay the toll, if they determine you’ve arrived at your destination too quickly you are subject to a fine (or the possibility of having your vehicle confiscated and auctioned off). When I lived in Oregon I wouldn’t have been too concerned about my driving habits, but since I’ve moved to California I’ve started to get a little bit of a lead foot.
Needless to say, the trip went smoothly. We stopped once to get gas about an hour outside of Venice and so I could take a quick call for work (what can I say, it is the reason I’m even in Europe).
A short distance down the road we arrived at our exit. In order to save some money on parking, we decided to park near the airport and then take a waterbus into Venice. It ended up working out pretty well logistically, and even better from a timing standpoint. Not only was Venice breathtaking, we just happened to be arriving in Venice during sunset. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
After the waterbus dropped us off at San Zaccaria, we were off to find our hotel. Now in most places I’ve traveled, there is some logic to the way addresses and streets are organized. In Venice, not so much! It didn’t take too long before we lost our way. As we wandered through the streets, several people stopped to help us (both locals and tourists). And eventually we made our way to the hotel.
Upon entering the hotel, I was expecting the reception area to be right through the front door. However, in this particular hotel, it was up several flights of stairs (which I became very familiar during the first few minutes of our arrival).
By the time we had settled into our cozy hotel room it was well past dinnertime and we were all pretty hungry. So we headed back into the maze of streets to find a restaurant that was still open. We walked all around looking for a place that looked appetizing, but wasn’t overly expensive. Eventually we landed in Campo Santa Maria Formosa for a nice outdoor dinner in the square. I’m learning to appreciate the slower pace in which meals are enjoyed here in Europe. It’s something that is in striking contrast to the way we do meals in the US. People actually slow down for longer periods of time to relax and eat.
With the little energy that we had left from our day of travel, we headed to Piazza San Marco to see the square and Basilica di San Marco lit up at night. Yet again, Venice did not disappoint. It was a beautiful sight.
Tomorrow I’ll share more on my weekend in Venice.