Fall Vacation '18 (Part 3): Venice & Dubrovnik
Venice, you're gonda-like always hold a special place in my heart.
How do I even begin to talk about Venice? What I can say is that Venice was everything that I expected and more.
We arrived early afternoon from Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station to Santa Lucia train station. We booked seats in the business class which included drinks and snacks. The train ride was two hours and 35 minutes.
The city of Venice (Venezia) is an island built on water that is cars-free with the only form of transportation being boats. There are three options: the ACTV water buses (vaporetto), water taxis, and gondolas. For our stay, we bought a 24-hour pass.
We stayed one night here, and this night was the biggest splurge of all of our accommodations. It was in the heart of Venice and a 10-minute walk to St. Mark's Square, the main square. Our room had a view of the canal, and everything in the bathroom were marbles.
Our goals for Venice were to visit St. Mark's Square, Rialto Bridge, and ride a gondola.
Our first stop was the Accademia Bridge (Ponte dell'Accademia), one of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal.
Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) is another famous bridge that connects the Doge's Palace (left building) to the prison (right building). It is believed that when prisoners are crossing this bridge, they sigh taking in their last moments of freedom.
Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is home to the ruling duke (doge) and built in 814. It is the building with the Italian flag below.
St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) is considered to be one of the most famous squares in the world and has the lowest point in Venice. Inside the square is St. Mark's Basilica, Campanile, Doge's Palace along with stores and food options.
A quick break for some Venezia beer and gelato as we enter shopping mode.
All around the city are gondola stops. Each gondola ride is 30 minutes and can be shared or private. This was one of my favorite memories from this trip (warning: picture overload), I would highly recommend anyone visiting Venice to take a gondola ride.
The best part was when we were on the Grand Canal (Canalazzo), Venice's "main street". It is two miles long, 15 feet deep, and 150 feet wide. Below you can see the Rialto Bridge behind us.
For dinner, we were recommended by our friend (shoutout to Caroline) to try cicchetti at Enoteca Al Volto. Like Spain's tapas, Venice has cicchetti, which are finger-food appetizers. My mom was a huge fan of their seafood selection. This was another favorite meal of ours. For dessert, we had gelato - twice. I regret nothing :)
Our last attraction was the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto), like everything else we have seen on this trip, this bridge is another world famous site for being the first bridge that crossed the Grand Canal with three walkways and tons of shopping.
October 28, 2018
We were ambitious this morning and wanted to make our way over to the smaller islands of Venice, Burano and Murano. Unfortunately, there were high tides, and we had to skip our plans altogether.
It worked out perfectly because we were all anxious to finally get to the second half of our trip. We boarded the Norwegian Star for our 8-day Adriatic and Greece cruise for lots of eating, relaxing, and exploring.
Monday, October 29th
Our first port was Dubrovnik, Croatia (Republika Hrvatska), formerly part of Yugoslavia until it separated in 1991. I was beyond excited to explore this city since it was our first time in Croatia, and I have heard lots of people say that they loved Croatia.
The heart of Dubrovnik is its Old Town, a pedestrian-only promenade with shops, foods, and some filming locations for Game of Thrones.
Since our cruise docked at Port Gruz and we did not book a tour, we took a taxi into Old Town to expedite our travel time.
I apologize in advance that the rest of this blog will be pictures of me and the different attractions. What can I say? Nick and my dad just love taking pictures of me ;)
Pile Gate (Gradska Vrata Pile), the gate to enter Old Town. Above the gate, you will see St. Blaise (Sveti Vlaho), the protector of Dubrovnik. Old Town is enclosed by the City Wall (Gradske Zidine), which was built to defend against the Ottoman navy and eventually the Yugoslavia attacks. The City Wall has been seen numerous of times on GoT.
Walking down into Old Town, who is that dude in the back with his arms up? This location can be spotted in season 2 and 3 of GoT.
Onofrio's Big Fountain (Velika Onofrijea Fontana), the town's biggest fountain that supplies water to the rest of the city.
The Stradun (Placa) is Dubrovnik's main promenade.
Old Port (Stara Luka)
Not going to lie, I was in search of one of my favorite GoT scene, the Jesuit Staircase, as soon as we were in Old Town.
We tried some Croatian beer, and the owner got us a round of shots (Croatians are very hospitable). We definitely had a better time walking around after that. Unfortunately, with the rain and being wary of our immune system, we ended our day early in Dubrovnik.
Venice is still my favorite city of Italy, I even have a few battle scars from mosquitoes to prove it. My dad was indifferent about Venice, my mom hated Venice. Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went to Venice with low expectations, I heard a lot about how dirty the water and city looked. I was able to overlook all that since it adds truth to this picturesque city. I think we have traveled enough to say that pictures can say a thousand words, but nowadays with editing and filters, ones experience is the lasting memory.
As for Dubrovnik, we are disappointed that we didn't get to explore more as it has lots to offer. Out of all the cities so far, Dubrovnik was the cleanest and most relaxing. I would definitely love to go back and explore more of Croatia.
Thanks for following along! Next blog will cover Athens and Santorini, Greece.