Venice was next. Our time was very limited and we made the most of it. We spent hours wandering through the winding alleys and narrow canals, looking for the most picturesque spots and the best cannolis.
The city is 3 feet above sea level and extends over 117 different islands. This calls for extreme planning when maneuvering around town; if you get your timing off, you may not only miss your water taxi, and have to wait until the next one, but the entire square may be flooded, as the main square of St. Mark floods four times a day, calling for the need to bring out raised walkways. By the end of our time in Venice, we constantly had that feeling ofbeing on a boat, even when we were on “solid” ground. The water taxis were fun at first, being a novel experience, but we quickly realized that living in Venice would require a certain amount of patience.
We had a few goals in mind for our visit, those being to 1. Eat Italian food (this was a good for every Italian city we visited and we never failed in reaching this one), 2. take some cool canal pictures (also achieved) and 3. ride a gondola. This last goal proved to be the most difficult, but we are no quitters. The problem we found was that in the winter time, before tourist season really gets going, there are a limited number of gondola stands open. Additionally, apparently a girl and boy can only ride a gondola together in a romantic fashion, which we absolutely did not want. We just wanted to ride in a boat. Therefore, finding the right gondola was tricky. There is the option to take a group ride, usually with strangers, but again, this was hard in the low point of the season. We eventually did find one and enjoyed the ride. It was quick, but we had some great views of the quieter side of the city, which is always enjoyable.
Our plan was to leave Venice at night and take the overnight train to Vienna. We packed our bags and set out for the water taxi to the train station. However, we did not yet possess the extreme planning skills necessary and overestimated the amount of time that we would have after arriving by the station. We stopped in a restaurant for some pizza-our last authentic Italian meal in Italy. We ordered calzones, or as the menu said, “folder pizzas,” (here in Malta I’ve seen them advertised as rolled/roller pizzas). The folder pizzas took longer to cook than we realized so we asked for them to go. We started to get a bit anxious, not exactly wanting to miss an overnight international train.
The waitresses noticed our anxiety and gave us some free drinks and tried to speed up the process. They felt so bad for us that they ended up giving us one of the pizzas for free and more free drinks. They kept apologizing for the wait and did everything they could to get us our food quickly. We didn’t really understand, because the problem was entirely our fault and we were not upset with them at all. However, we got our folder pizzas, headed for the train station, and got onboard with only a bit of pizza grease running down our arms. We sat in our bunker and enjoyed our free food and drinks while amazed and confused. So if you ever find yourself in Venice and in need of a very accommodating restaurant with authentic Italian folder pizzas, head on over to Pizzeria Ae Oche Santa Lucia. They’re nice people.