Wednesday, December 4, 2013


My dad and I said our goodbyes to Sara and got on the train to Venice. We continued to be in awe of how beautiful the train ride was. Luckily, this time we weren't the only ones snapping all the pictures; our neighbors were even worse than us. My dad got some ones that are too good not to share...

We had to change trains in quite possibly the biggest shit hole of a train station ever: Milan. My dad and I had an overpriced mediocre piece of pizza and a panini and then waited for our train to come. I remembered I had some Bailey's Swiss chocolate truffles in my bag and decided to have one to pass the time. At the same time, some chubby gypsy comes up and asks in a language I can't understand, maybe Italian, for some money. I decline and continue to pull the truffle that I've been drooling over for a bit now. She takes this as an invitation for her to enjoy, as well. Ah hell nah lady. One truffle alone cost me more than $1.50 and was like tasting heaven and her gnarly hands weren't having a single one. She started to rub her large belly as if she was hungry and I said 'no way'.  Wow did I piss her off. She began to curse at me in her strange language and stared me down. I returned the pleasantries only I was enjoying the truffle and she wasn't. Finally, she walked away and proceeded to tell everyone in the station about me. No one felt sorry for her. As a sidebar, I follow Michael Kors on Instagram and, coincidentally, he posted a video of Milan the same day we were at the traim station and it looked beautiful. I can only believe that basing my opinion of Milan by the train station is like someone coming to SF via Powell street Bart stop and thinking, what a shit hole this city is. I'm hoping that once you get out of the station filled with greedy gypsys trying to make a buck, it is a pleasant city. Plus, their actual train station is quite pretty.

We finally got on the train to Venice and settled down. All high speed trains in Italy require a reservation which costs somewhere from 10-15 euro. We thought this was a waste, but then the train equivalent of a flight attendant offered us glasses of wine and snacks and it didn't seem so bad.

My dad and I arrived at our train station and walked the short distance to the hotel. I was a bit nervous because it was outside of Venice proper in the Venizia Mestre area. We got to our hotel, met the sweet Italian lady who runs the place and settled into our adorable room that only cost us $80 per night. I can't imagine ever paying so little and getting something equivalent anywhere in the US. We got our stuff together and headed in to Venice by taking the short train ride over. I don't know if I'm getting burnt out or if I've visited some if the most beautiful places ever, but I wasn't blown away by Venice. It was gorgeous and in Italy and I was so excited for the Italian food, but, after visiting upwards of 20 cities, I'd say it's mid pack. Not like a Frankfurt, but not a Brugges. 

My dad and I got lost through the canals and finally decided to stop for dinner at a place that had the trusty trip advisor seal of approval. There was an older Italian man who greeted us and brought us some house red. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either. The menu was quite large but we finally decided on the special of housemade spaghetti with sea bass for my dad and gnocchi with seafood for me. For those who have been with me since the beginning of my travels might recall my awful gnocchi from Rome. This was nothing like that. It was fresh, salty, and perfectly cooked. I'm still looking for a place with gnocchi better than Firenze by night in SF, but this was by far the best in Italy, so far. My dad, of course, complained that his was made with butter and refused to 'spacipiatta' or clean his plate as he usually does. We finished our meal with a light and refreshing dessert of mixed fruit topped with powdered sugar. It was perfect. We finished up dinner and continued to wonder through the countless canals of the city. After we finally found our way back, we decided to head home and start fresh the following day. 

The next day I imagined my dad and I would start with a coffee and pastry similar to the locals, but he had his own idea. A McDonalds sausage McMuffin. For those that know my dad, he hates butter, fatty foods, fried food, bologna, but, apparently, has no problem with McDonalds. I was shocked. Not only did we pass up about 15 adorable Italian caf├ęs, but we got lost, found our way back to the sign that gave the directions, and then tried to find it again, unfortunately, being successful the second time. Thankfully, we were able to get a good shot of us on a typical bridge in Venice. 

I was embarrassed to even walk in, but my dad was so enthusiastic rest I had to go along. I usually reserve New Year's Day in Tahoe to my annual McDonalds breakfast and then swear it off for the rest of the year. I probably won't make it to Tahoe this year, so I'll call it my early celebration. I ordered the usual, a sausage McMuffin with a hash brown on the side. It felt sickening going down, and I should have known it would set the precedence for food for the day. 

My dad and I had checked the weather before we left and it was going to be a whopping 55 degrees so I ditched the boots for my ballerina flats and exchanged my jacket for a puffer vest. Huge mistake. By noon, I was shivering, but trying to not complain to my dad since he is a grin and bear it kind of guy. Luckily, he was just as cold as me, and we decided to head back and get our jackets so we wouldn't be miserable for the day. We rode the portagee gondola or water bus as the locals call it back to the station and warmed up back at home. 

We were back in Venice by 2:30 and ready for some lunch. We passed about 6 or 7 decent looking places until we finally decided we were too hungry and we'd settle for the next place. Here are a couple photos of us prior to our afternoon snack.

We walked in and the waiter informed us that their kitchen was closed but that he could make us a plate of items he had in the display window. He brought us over bread, olive oil, and wine and then proceeded to whip us up a plate. The wine was obviously labeled 'shit for tourists to drink' and was sort of bubbly even though it was a red wine. The bread and olive oil was delicious. We heard a microwave going, but the. he brought over the most beautiful platter of items that my dad and I were quite excited about that our McDonald's had worn off.

Let me describe this plate for you in clockwise order. It began with assortment of fried items; none good. There was fried cheese, olives, sardines, and something I can't describe except as deep fried crumbs of someone else's leftovers. We move to the right and see a sandwich. Seems harmless, right? Oh no, to our suprise, this was a sandwich battered, deep fried, cooled, and then microwaved to peak mediocrity. We move along to the assortment of bruschettas placed on top of stale polenta. The one with cream colored fish tasted like licking an armpit. The sausage one was decent, but the polenta was so dry and flavorless, even the best sausage couldn't perk it up. The one that looked like the normal bruschetta was  actually masking canned sardines, oh joy. It was on top of one of the only decent items on the plate - roasted zucchini. We continue to move along to the other white fishy bruschetta only to get more nauseated with multi day old fish. In the center are some decent shrimp that help to offset the awfulness of this meal and continue to the mysterious white ball on the plate. Oddly, this item, was the best thing on the plate, especially when the olive oil was added. It was, however, placed on top of soggy eggplant that was bitter and flavorless at the same time. We move up into the final quarter of the plate where things get really hairy. Have you ever had a can of Vienna sausage? You know how you have to rinse off the slime before eating them? Well that's what the squid was like except they forgot to rinse the slime off. I'm getting sick even remembering this plate. My dad, who can eat mostly anything (except for what was mentioned above) said this plate even pushed him out of his comfort zone. It was so awful. My dad and I got up from the table feeling quite sick and did the best we could to walk our food off. You might notice we don't look as happy as we did earlier...

Finally, I we stumbled across an open gelato place and I settled my tummy with some lemon flavored kind. It sure did make me happy.

We ended our brief stay in Venice on that high note and caught the water bus back to the train station and then to our hotel, ready to move on to Florence. It might be clearer why Venice is only a middle to lower of the pack city in my book after this blog. Although it was undeniably pretty, the food was just not what I imagined for a famous Italian city. I guess that's what us desparate tourists get for being inpatient and unprepared. I also think the closeness to the end of the trip played a part in my opinion of this city. Getting engaged and then immediately leaving is quite difficult and I'm looking forward to being back home with Colin.

On to Florence where, spoiler alert, I'm definitely enjoying myself. 


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