Europe 2018 – Part 5 – Venice

Wednesday, 9/26

After an easy 3 ½ hour drive from Croatia, we arrived in Venice just before noon, returned the car, and took the people mover to Piazzale Roma. From there it was just a few blocks to the hotel, but with luggage it seemed like miles. Hotel Dolomiti is basic but clean and just around the corner from the station, which was important to us.

There is no elevator, so beware if you have difficulty with stairs. Our room was 3 flights up. There is no air conditioning but thankfully the weather was cool enough and there was a fan. About $150 a night, breakfast included. not bad for Venice.

Once settled in, we made our way through the throngs along the main drag of Cannaregio, to Vini da Gigio, where I had reserved for lunch. This turned out to be a fabulous choice.

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The atmosphere is charming, with windows facing onto a quiet canal, and service was friendly and efficient. I started with Sarde in Saor, marinated sardines with pickled onions, pine nuts and raisins. It was the best rendition of this dish that I have ever had, and an enormous portion. Stanley opted for a Caprese salad, a hunk of fresh mozzarella with cherry tomatoes, simple and delicious. Next I went with fegato alla Veneziana, the famous calf’s liver dish, which was textbook perfect. He had turbot with mushrooms and roasted potatoes. Lovely. With a very nice bottle of Rosso Costiera from the Veneto (21 euros, cheapest on the list), coffees and water, the bill was 117 euros.

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As we walked around afterward, we observed that Venice had become even more overrun with tourists than it was on our last visit 11 years ago, if that could be possible, and the number of shops and stands selling junky souvenirs had increase tenfold. And of course, no one was watching where they were walking, all eyes glued to phones, or taking selfies. I didn’t take many pictures, as everyone knows what Venice looks like, but here are a few:

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This one made us laugh:

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We stopped off at Grom for a gelato, and were surprised to notice as we walked around that they had a number of locations, as there was only one back in 2007. Despite the hordes, Venice is still a beautiful and unique place, but if you’ve been there before, one day there is quite enough, in our opinion anyway.

Back at the hotel, I attended to emails and blogging, before setting out for dinner at Antiche Carampane, directions to which I had written down in excruciating detail from Google maps. It was supposed to be a 14 minute walk, but after a few blocks the instructions became meaningless, and we proceeded to get completely lost, finally arriving at the restaurant an hour later, after asking at least a dozen people for directions, with only half of them having any idea where any street was (and these were all locals). Arriving 40 minutes late for our reservation, we were told they had given our table away (don’t they know how difficult it is to find?) but luckily they had outdoor tables available, and we were actually quite happy to sit there.

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The food was very good, but perhaps just a notch below Vini da Gigio. We began with a shared plate of tagliolini with spider crab, then I had grilled sole with zucchini, and Stanley had braised veal cheek with pureed potatoes. Both were very tasty. Wines here are very expensive by the bottle, so we opted for a ¾ liter carafe of tocai, which was quite acceptable for 16 euros. For dessert we shared a pavlova with yogurt and mixed berries. Light and refreshing. With water, the bill came to 106 euros.

After dinner, we decided not to risk trying to find our way back on foot, and with not much difficulty found the nearest vaporetto stop and were quickly transported to our destination.

Thursday, 9/27

After a simple breakfast at the hotel, we walked the 2 blocks to the station and caught the 8:20 train to Milano, where we would change to another train to Basel, and from there to another train to Paris.


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