My $30.00 coffee!
Today started off a little rocky. Brian woke up sick, Andy had a runny nose and I was tired. My stomach started to feel “off," and I think it was all of the gluten and dairy I had started eating Typically, I am 80% gluten and dairy free, and I have had more gluten and dairy in the last week than I have had in months! We had breakfast in our flat, and then we headed out for the day. As we made our way through the winding back corridors of Venice, we bumped into at least three older Italian men (more like grandpas) who wanted to pinch Andy’s cheeks.
About 15 bridges and 25 minutes later, we ended up in Piazzeta Saint Marco (St. Mark’s Square). I, of course, wanted a coffee and decided I needed to sit down on the square to enjoy it. We sat at one of the restaurants directly on the square, and the waiter brought our menu, which said 11 euros for a cappuccino. I thought this was overpriced and tried to get up to leave, but Brian urged me to stay. I asked for “Uno cappuccino parta decaffeinato y parta caffeinato.” The waiter looked at me and in English (better English than my Italian) replied, with a quizzical look, “one decaffeinato and one caffeinato?” No. I had already given up the idea of being dairy free in Italy and didn’t bother to order an almond milk latte, but I still wanted half café. He shook his head and walked away to place my order.
When my cappuccino arrived, I smiled and enjoyed every sip of it while the string quartet played music in the background (really, there were four quartets all around the square, which took turns playing every 20-30 minutes). Once my café was finito, I asked for the bill. To my surprise, it was 28 euro! Absolutely absurd! Apparently, they charged me for two coffees so they could add a second shot of decaffeinato to my cappuccino! To make matters worse, there was a little café about 400 m to the right with cappuccino for three euros. Oops. I won’t make that mistake again.
Saint Marco Basilica was free to get into, but there was a long line. Apparently, you can order tickets ahead of time to skip the line, but we didn’t know, and it really didn’t matter. Once we were inside, it was absolutely brilliant. The ceiling and walls were covered with a mosaic of ceramic tiles with pieces of gold flecks embedded into them. I have never seen anything like it. Even Andy enjoyed the basilica - he kept pushing my face to one side and the next to make sure I saw everything around me. Once through the first floor, we climbed nearly 50 stairs to the terrace on top. It was difficult, but I did it, slowly. Brian carried Andy up just in case. On the top level, we saw the four horses that were brought from the hippodrome in Byzantium to Venice in 1204. They were magnificent. Then, we went outside to take in the breathtaking view of the piazzeta from above.
The piazzeta and the basilica were packed. After our trek through the basilica, Andy was worn out and required a gelato break. So we got him some chocolate gelato and sat in the square to regain some energy.
Next up: a gondola ride. This was a very expensive trip for what was a 40-minute ride from the square through some of the canals in the city. Despite the cost, I would do it again simply because Andy had such a good time. He is easily frightened by new things, but for some reason he loved the gondola!
Because we were feeling brave, we decided to board the water bus to Burano, the brightly colored and sleepy town on the sea. Honestly, the 40-minute ride was a bit of a nightmare, and I kept asking myself, “Why didn’t we bring Andy home for a nap?” He did not want to sit still and was running around the boat trying to slide down every pole like on PAW Patrol.
Burano was quieter and less crowded than Murano and Venice, which both Brian and I seemed to relish. Directly off the boat was a small park that Andy was able to run and play in (which was much needed!). He was even able to run without holding our hands through many of the streets in town. An hour or so later we hopped back onto the boat and headed for our apartment, exhausted, cold and tired.
As we walked home, swinging Andy from cobblestone to cobblestone, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up dinner. This is one huge advantage of having a flat over a hotel. We were able to do laundry and cook dinner. We had salad, fresh gnocchi and warm, crunchy bread, and dinner was a whopping 13 euros - much less than the 30 euros I spent on cappuccino this morning!
Tomorrow we are off to pick up our car at the Venice airport and drive to Ljubljana, Solvenia!