New Years in Italy (Part 3)
Since we were planning on staying to ring in the New Year – and stay awake till the earliest train at 7 am the next morning – we chose to sleep in a bit before taking the train to Venice. We arrived as the sun was starting to set which made everything that much more beautiful. Seriously, everything seemed to be illuminated by the setting sun.
The top of my to-do list for Venice was to ride a gondola through the canals. Now, lesson learned: listen to your husband when he says “there are boats right there,” instead of brushing him off because you think he doesn’t know the difference between a speed boat and a gondola. My eyes seemed to miss the gondolas completely and only saw the normal looking boats. So, I kept walking and tried to find what I was looking for. Only to realize later that Tyler did see a gondola and I could have gotten my ride before the sun went down.
The good thing about being completely oblivious, was that we continued to wander the streets and got to see such breathtaking sights of the canals while there was still light. I couldn’t believe how much color there was on every building and how pretty the water looked – even though it’s technically the sewage system.
Finally, after walking down several alleys only to find ourselves at a dead end and after the sun had completely set, we found a gondolier waiting for us to come along for a ride! A ride usually costs about 80 euro for a 30 minute ride, which at first seems pricy but the gondolas can actually seat 6 people. So we rode with another couple – our friends – and we split the cost between us.
When we sat down, I was sitting on Tyler’s right and he was on my left. Then the gondolier yelled at us! He told us the girls needed to be on the left and the guys on the right, because gondolas are made asymmetrical since the gondolier stands in the back to steer us. He stands on the left side, which is why the girls sit on the left, because we’re usually lighter. So, if we were reversed the boat may have flipped!
Once we were out on the water, it was so peaceful and beautiful. We turned down a small canal and away from the Canal Grande and everything got quiet. All we could hear was the swishing of water as the gondolier moved the oar through the water. Every so often he would start to sing! It was just like the movies and so so romantic.
I apologize for the quality of this picture – as it was dark and we were moving – but I had to add this. Our gondolier told us this building is the oldest building in Venice. Its called the Ca’ da Mosto and he said that it was built in 100 A.D. I did a little research, and I know wikipedia isn’t the best source, but it says it was built in the 13th century which is more believable. But it’s still amazing how well it’s held up after all these years!
As our ride came to an end, we crossed back under the Rialto Bridge. This is the bridge you go to see when you’re in Venice. I mean, look at it! The architecture is amazing. And when you’re on solid ground, you can cross the bridge and all throughout there are little shops you can stop in a pick up souvenirs.
After our ride, we decided to get some dinner before making our way to St. Mark’s Square where the fireworks were being held. Since it was New Years, a lot of restaurants required each person to order at least two courses for dinner. Aside from not wanting to spend that much money, we sure couldn’t eat that much either! We finally found a restaurant right by the water, with heaters to keep us warm!
Ristorante Canal Grande is right by Rialto Bridge and has reasonably priced food for the location. I ordered a salmon dish and it was seriously delicious. Whatever the dipping sauce they had on the plate was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted in my life. Second, only to the moscato Tyler and I ordered! I honestly have never had a better wine. If the bottle didn’t cost 36 euro, I could probably drink it every day!
Once we finished eating, we decided to head to St. Mark’s Square so we could figure out where the fireworks would be and where we would be watching them from.
The square was so big and open – and we still had about 4 hours until 2017 – so we headed off to find a place to get beers until the New Year. We wandered into a few different bars and each got a couple beers, then on our way back to the square, Tyler stumbled upon a mask shop. Venice is known for the Carnival where everyone wears masks, so these masks were everywhere. But this was an inexpensive shop where you could decorate your own! I picked a pre-made mask, mostly because we were on a time limit but I still love it!
As it got closer to midnight, we made our way back to the square and one of our friends popped open a bottle of Slovenian wine so we could toast to the New Year and to friendship. We stood back a bit in the square, believing the fireworks would be around the basilica on the other end. We were wrong. As soon as it struck midnight, we started to hear booms but saw NOTHING. Then we noticed everyone crowded into a little extension of the square that was near the water. So we shoved our way through and could see about half the firework show.
It was so cool to start our New Year in another country! It’s still hard for me to believe that this is our life and we get to pop over to different countries so easily. Once the fireworks ended, we still wanted to celebrate. So, we found a club called Piccolo Mondo and spent some time – and money – there. It was a lot of fun dancing, and whatever pink drink they made really hit me hard. Which is why I have no pictures of this place! We ended up catching a ride with some of our friends who drove to Venice back to our apartment, so we didn’t have to stay up extra late for the morning train.
This was the last day we went out to explore Italy, so after our New Years shenanigans we recouped for a day and then drove back to Germany. It was such a fun experience and I really hope one day we can make it back to see more of this beautiful country!
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