May 13, 2014
Good morning, Venice!

Breakfast at the hotel this morning was better than dinner had been the night before, so we were off to a good start. Another Emergen-C packet was downed during the meal, since I was starting to cough a bit and was thoroughly unhappy about it.

From breakfast, we jumped onto the coach and drove a few minutes to the ferry station, where we took a boat into the middle of Venice. The views along the way were absolutely incredible…everything I had ever imagined Venice to be!

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Upon arrival into the city, we went straight to the pick-up spot for our gondola rides. This was an Optional Extra, ringing in at 22€, or $30 USD. Overall, I thought this was a bit pricey, and I was told that if you go off on your own, you can get a better deal. However, it was nice doing it with the group. We all took photos for the other boats, and had fun laughing and joking with our friends as their boats passed by.

I was lucky enough to be in a boat with a few of my favorite people: Kieran, Dicky, Pat, Alex and Shandi.

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The gondolas wound us through the gorgeous canals of Venice. I had heard some bad things about the smell in Venice, because of all the water, but I didn’t notice it at all. The city had such a lovely romance to it, though it was a very different vibe from Rome.

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After our gondolas returned to the dock, we walked to the famous Piazza San Marco, where we met with our tour guide for a walking tour of Venice. This tour was an Optional Extra for 11€, or $15 USD. Overall, the tour was a great extra, run by a local Venetian who gave us a history of the city, including the unique circumstances under which it was built.

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After the tour, we ran off to explore on our own. I left with Pat, Dicky, Kieran, Shandi, Alex, and Sam to find some food, but not before stopping at the famous Rialto bridge for a photo opp.

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View from the Rialto bridge. 

We stopped at a restaurant just to the southwest of the bridge, where we could people-watch on the Grand Canal. I was trying to avoid the heavy carbs again (we had a pasta dinner in store for us that night!) so I tried to order a Mediterranean salad, and requested that chicken be added on top. Oh Lord.

The waiter told me that it couldn’t be done, so I explained that I was willing to pay extra, and I didn’t care how much, I just wanted some chicken. He stood his ground and offered every reason in the book for why he couldn’t add chicken to the stinking salad (“The Asian salad has chicken – you don’t want that one?”). After a few minutes of back-and-forth (and me asking if I could order the salad and a plate of chicken separately, and him saying no), I finally said “Okay, if you can’t do it, I don’t want anything then.” He said “Fine” and moved on to the next person. What?!? So I whispered to Pat to order me something on his turn. We ended up splitting a Mediterranean salad (sans chicken), and calamari.

It seemed so odd to me that they wouldn’t add something to a dish here, even if I was willing to pay more. It reminded me just how accommodating customer service is in the U.S. at restaurants and stores. Believe me, I got plenty of jokes from my Australian friends about my “entitled American” mentality through the rest of the meal (all in fun, of course).

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After lunch, we spent the day getting lost in Venice. And let me tell you, I don’t think there’s a better way to go. We wandered up and down the tiny cobblestone streets, stopping into stores for a bit of shopping now and then. Also, it’s worth noting that in Venice, you can carry an adult beverage around on the city streets, so we basically walked around sipping beer and exploring this incredible city. What an amazing day!

Towards dinner time, we wandered back to Piazza San Marco, where we met up with Jon Snow and the rest of the crew, and took this gem of a photo. As you might be able to tell, we weren’t the only ones who discovered that you can carry a beer around Venice.

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Dinner was absolutely delicious. Another Optional Extra, this Venetian dinner rang in at 32.50€, or $44 USD, and it was worth every penny. Fresh bread, bruschetta, several different kinds of pasta, meat and veggies were all on the menu. Plus, a bit of wine. Okay, more than a bit. So worth the price!

You might be able to imagine that the ferry ride and bus ride back to our hotel that night was a bit of a rowdy one. A dance-off ensued, which was incredibly fun until I was bumped into and sat down too hard on an armrest to steady myself. At that moment, the point of impact on my thigh hurt a bit, and I figured I might have a bit of a bruise in the morning, but we kept dancing.

Turns out, it would be the single gnarliest welt I’ve ever had, and it would end up jeopardizing my participation in the adventure sport activities that were waiting for us in Austria the next day…

Next up: White water rafting in the snow. Because of course.


Check out my other Contiki posts:

Introduction: An American Girl in Europe
Day 1: Oh hey, London
Day 2: Bonjour, Paris!
Day 3: Parisian Adventures
Day 4: Lookin’ Good, Switzerland
Day 5: All Things Swiss
Day 6: Switzerland, Italy, France…oh my!
Day 7: Bond. James Bond.
Day 8: Buongiorno Italia!
Day 9: When in Rome
Day 10: That’s Amore
Day 11: Vatican City to Venice
Day 12: The Last Italian Adventure
Day 13: Hop-fer-gerten
Day 14: Soaring Over Austria
Day 15: München
Day 16: Bittersweet Symphonies
Day 17: Vienna to Prague
Day 18: Ahoj, Prague!
Day 19: St. Goar, Rhine Valley
Day 20: Amsterdamage
Day 21: Even more Amsterdamage
Day 22: Back to the Start
Day 23/24: The End of a Great Adventure
Contiki in a Nutshell: Know Before You Go
Contiki: What Should I Pack?