Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Arrivederci Firenze!


After yesterday I was exhausted and a bit anxious to make sure that everything was packed and ready to go. Also, I wanted to be sure that I was quiet for my new roommates when I got up in the morning. One roommate is from Finland (I stayed up late to chat with her about her travels and homeland) and the other one is from Australia and was exhausted from a day of wine country tours. It was fun to know where they were from and hear about hostel hopping.

Bye Florence!

Leaving quietly, I ordered a taxi from the front desk. The driver was just on time! It was both sad and a huge relief to be leaving Plus Florence! The ride to the airport was quick and after repackaging my suitcases (one was too heavy), I got to check them both for the duration of my flight (woohoo!) due to the fact that my first plane was T-I-N-Y!

Flying out of FLR! In the middle of the picture and slightly to the left you can see the outline of the Duomo! One of my favorite pictures because the chance to snap it was so fleeting!

Swiss Air snack! Unlike the horror of a snack on the plane ride into Florence, this was delicious! Fresh pretzel with butter of a morning = :-)

The Alps

Florentine heatwave --> Crisp Alpine snow =  beautiful!

Flying into Zurich: topography! :-)

One of my favorite things about flying is seeing the patchwork-quilt of land below!

 Zurich buildings :-)

 Zurich outside of the airport! The air is so clear and fresh it is remarkable!

The plane that would carry me home! Well not home exactly....home to our nation's capital.

I had just enough time to sprint from one area of the airport to the other, but I did manage to snap a handful of pictures.

D- just for you. Macaron ad! By....

Cream puff pyramid!

Customs. Fast and efficient. I don't know if I'm really supposed to take pictures here, but nonetheless!

On to the tram that takes me to the wing of the airport I need. The ride was funny because the loudspeaker made cow mooing noises. A smart quip by an American, "very appropriate for the herding of cattle!"

Damn. Damn. Missed that one!

The cattle herd

Goodbye Zurich!

Washington D.C.- or somewhere near Dulles International. Thus far, this airport is my least favorite of any I've been to. Huffing it across an airport that size sucks. It was easily the length of a brisk walk from my hostel to the Arno. Not only do passengers have to walk that far, but pilots and air hostesses too! Come on, D.C.! Really? Seriously? 

Home George!

My Florence adventure ends. Continental/United = meh.
An international flight + Two layovers = San Francisco, I LOVE YOU!

Journey at an end!

Papa --> Highway 101 --> Dinner --> My bed :-))))



For my last day in Italy and as a gift to myself, I decided to splurge and buy a ticket to see Venice for half a day! The morning was crazy. Between lack of sleep and the stress of moving to a new room and trying not to lose anything, I lost my train ticket twice and completely freaked out- twice. But no harm, no foul. I found my ticket both times, secured my return ticket so that it was theft and absent-minded Mary proof, and decided not to take losing my train ticket twice as any sort of sign. No way am I missing out on seeing Venice and no way am I missing my flight in the morning!

After a quick breakfast and jog to the Mercato Centrale to buy a journal, I walked to Santa Maria Novella and boarded my train. I slept for most of the journey. It is quite lovely though and only takes 2.5 hours!

Arriving in Venice! Just before you get into the city, the train passes through an urban area and then suddenly the train is surrounded by a thin highway and beautiful, open water.

The first bridge I saw when I walked out of the train station!

On the right hand corner you can see what the small docks look like on the Grand Canal!

Venice :-)

With only 5.5 hours in Venice, I decided to visit the island of Murano- not realizing just how far away it was. After purchasing a Vaporetto (water bus) pass, I headed to the designated station and took off!

By Vaperro (water bus) it is almost 40 minutes! way longer than I expected.

But being on the water and seeing more of the city was wonderful. I hadn't realized just how much I needed the fresh air and water!

One of my favorite aspects of Venice is its color pallet. Pastels, mauves, rich browns,compliment the greenish blue water perfectly.

The day was warm and perfect. I had expected humidity, but it was lovely!

Church by the water! Beautiful!

Its facade.

Leaving the Grand Canal behind to head for open water.

Here you can see one of the watch towers and the side of the church above.

Further a'sea!

Another church along the water and a gondola!

I sincerely wish I had more time to explore. The city is so very beautiful!


Further afield.

I love the color of this building. Notice the architectural decorations. I love the pointed arches of the windows!

Leaving the main island!

Lighthouse from the sea. You can see another Vaporetto passing in the opposite direction.

The lighthouse and buildings at the edge of the island.

Church spires of the main island.

One of the prettiest things I saw from the sea. A Romanesque basilica church and baptistery at the very corner of the island.

From the side.


Quickly realizing that I had a very limited amount of time in the city and that I still wanted to be able to  (1) do some shopping and (2) see more of the main island, I snapped a few quick pictures and headed back. On murano, the glass makers charge money to see the inside of their shops. Here is one that you can visit. Sadly they pulled out the partition before I could snap a photo. No way am I paying 10 EU to watch them blow glass!

Returning to the main island

The black, white and yellow structures at the edge of the water are the Vaporetto stations.

Entrance to one of the smaller canals!

Another lighthouse!

Approaching the main island

Entrance to another canal

I'm glad I dodged splashes and was able to snap this picture. The smaller sailboats along the island are so cute!


The mainland!

At the edge of the Grand Canal

Again I wish I had more time to explore. So beautiful!

Arriving at the Doge's palace- one of the most crowded areas in the city!

Buildings and gondolas across the way!

I love this picture! Touristy and kitschy, but very, very Venetian!

The palace and cathedral in all its glory!


Tower in the square

Beautiful arches on the facade!

Brief look into a church! With no time to spare for the long lines and tourists, I sped through to the streets where Venetian glass was sold. The small alleyways are crammed with shops, but finding Venetian glass is harder than you would think. Now that Chinese glass makers have more or less perfected high quality knockoffs, the real stuff is hard to find!

Hidden amidst the shops was a Ferrari store. How they managed to get the car in there, I haven't a clue!

This shop, sadly I didn't get its name, had beautiful and unique costume jewelry....someday when I'm rich and famous!

Gondola rides in the smaller canals

Giant hand blown chess set!

Statues in a piazza and Venetian masks. I'm sad that I didn't take more pictures of the shops. But alas, time's a'wastin! On the advice of one of the shop owners who sold me Italian candy, I sprinted to a shortcut so that I could bypass a larger journey along the Grand Canal and make it to the train station in time. 

Here are some photos of the Grand Canal on the way to the station:

Vaporetto Station.

Flowers in the window!

Arriving at the train station with just under an hour to spare, I decided to peek into a church. It was gorgeous inside!

Views from the bridge of the Grand Canal:

Lunch! Gelato is a source of protein, right? ;P

Goodbye Venezia!


Until we we meet again someday!