June 9, Thursday
We had breakfast with Jon and Galina before saying goodbye. They are headed home via Madrid later today and we are on our way back to spend a couple of days in Venice. We hired a driver to take us from Zagreb to Venice – believe it or not is cheaper than flying and way shorter than flying or taking any kind of public transportation. Still it was an almost 5-hour drive.
Finally, the good weather has broken. We arrived in Venice and were dropped off at Piazzale Roma. Within minutes it started to rain, and it didn’t let up for the rest of the day. We were walking from there to our hotel, which was near San Marco. It was supposed to take 24 minutes, and it might have on a good day. But in the rain, poked by umbrellas, through streets packed with other tourists, it was neither easy nor pleasant. We arrived at the hotel wet, grumpy and tired.
Our hotel, The Hotel Luna Bagliolino, was a delightful splurge. It was ideally located just off the Plaza San Marco on a quite street that ended right at the water. The service in the hotel was first class, and our room very comfortable. We had a little surprise in the bathroom…a bird was nesting just outside of the window. Other than scaring her off the nest the first time we tried to open the window, she seemed unconcerned that we were there for the rest of our visit.
It had been a long trip and a lot of moving around, especially in the last few days. With the weather so bad, we opted to stay in until dinnertime. Once we headed out, we stopped to ask the concierge for help deciding between two restaurants. He suggested that one had better food, despite not being as fancy. (Fancy? As if that were a consideration for us! Perhaps, he could tell…) Anyway, we headed out to Osteria (Enoteca) San Marco. It was still raining, but the restaurant was cozy and quiet (we were there early for Italian standards) and out food was delicious. Actually this is just the type of place I love: Small but very well appointed, really friendly but not-too-familiar servers, excellent food. I opted to try the fegato a la veneziana (calf’s liver Venetian style) and found it very tasty but perhaps a bit over-cooked. We had another regional specialty for our appetizer – a pate made from salted codfish.
After dinner, we braved the rain and tried to take photos for a while, giving up near 10 pm.
June 10, Friday
Today will be dry! Yeah!
We were out early for coffee. We had no destination in mind, but rather an idea to wander and see where we ended up. The only structure to our plans was a vague desire to see the Peggy Guggenheim Museum at some point during the day.
So once fortified by breakfast, we started to walk in that general direction, stopping frequently to take pictures and just absorb the feeling of Venice. We did get to the museum and toured it. I am not sure if the collection or the collector was more intriguing to me. The day was so nice that we did spend some time sitting out on the “front” terrace – the place where a boat would drop you off and from where we could look back towards Plaza San Marco.
We found a cute place nearby for lunch, our hopes of eating outside in the sunshine along the canal dashed by smokers. Even at a table inside near the front of the restaurant, the cigarette smoke was annoying. Our food was good, though. When isn’t spaghetti alle vongole good?
After lunch, we headed to the end of our peninsula to the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. It was wonderful to just sit and gaze out towards Piazza San Marco across the water and to watch all the boats plying the Grand Canal. The church itself is impressive, and its steps were filled with people prepared to enjoy the afternoon- so we joined them.
After a bit we headed back toward the Gallerie dell’Accademia – we had to cross that bridge to walk back to the hotel, so we stopped in to visit the museum. The collection was purported to be very significant with works by Venetian artists like Tiepolo, Canaletto and Titian. There was also an interesting exhibit about the restoration of a work by Hieronymus Bosch from the collection.
The day was warm and the afternoon was beginning to drag (or was it lunch that was slowing us down?) so we went back to hotel about 4 and rested until dinner.
When we did go out, our restaurant was right around the corner from that of the night before, Ristorante Trattoria Cherubino. Again, I opted for Ventian specialties. The first course was a plate of selected seafood cichetti (think “tapas” but say “snacks”) that were both interesting and new to me. For the second course I had squid in its own ink – “black squid” the waiter called it. I was hesitant…it would be the first time…and I found it delicious!
After dinner, we walked around and took night photos of Venice again – a blessing without the rain.
June 11, Saturday
And so our adventure ended. We got up and out of the hotel fairly early as we planned to take the vaporetto to the airport and we were unsure how long it would take. The ride was uneventful and once in the airport we had to kill a little time before our flight left at noon, but all in all it was a hassle free experience, and by the end of the day we were back in Wisconsin, exhausted and ready for bed!
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