We finished American Village on a good note. The kids were sweet, even if they didn't really want to speak English. For our last Carnival night, Easy E made us all into Question Marks. It was a little bizarre but kind of fun. The kids weren't too freaked out.
After finishing AmVil we headed to Lyon to the night and stayed in a very cheap, interesting hotel. The room was tiny, and at first we were confused as to where the toilet and shower were located. But like something out of a sci-fi futuristic movie, our closet swivelled open to reveal a toilet and combination shower/sink. Weird.
Saturday morning we headed to the train station to catch our train to Venice.
Despite the fact that our tickets said "train" on them, we were in fact on a bus that took us to Turin, or Torino in Italian. There we had a short break before transferring two more times, through Milan and Verona, to get to Padua, or Padova, just outside of Venice, where our couchsurfer was located.
Alfredo was an older gentleman who cooked us a big plate of pasta and then took us on a tour by car of Padova since it was raining. The next morning we left early and took the short train ride into Venice. As soon as we arrived, there was a massive torrential downpour that soaked us through and through on the 50 minute walk to the center of town, St. Mark's Square.
We were completely unprepared for such weather, and we spent the rest of the day wandering around trying to keep warm and dry. We even popped into a cafe for drinks, only to find that one espresso and one tea were 7 euro! Lesson learned: always ask the price before ordering, no matter how cold and wet you are.
We then forked over even more cash to visit the much acclaimed Ducal Palace.
13 euro for one museum seemed really steep to me, and the visit didn't come close to making up for the cost. It was nice to see the prisons and some of the artwork, and Andrew particularly enjoyed the map room, but I've seen nicer castles in France that cost half the price. After a couple of museums, we headed back to Padova early to prepare chicken pot pie for Alfredo. After dinner, Alfredo took us to two nearby villages in the countryside to see a lovely villa and a medieval walled city called Cittadella.
Monday morning we dug out our jackets and water-proof shoes and headed back into Venice, determined to enjoy the city despite the dire predictions of more rain. Probably because we were so prepared, it didn't rain all that much yesterday, though there was a steady drizzle the entire time we were there. We visited the Basilica, which was pretty for all its gilding, but again, not as impressive as some of the churches I've seen in France. My favorite part of the day was wandering amongst the canals, getting lost and admiring the beautiful architecture.
We did a pretty good job of avoiding the souvenir markets, though the gorgeous Venetian masks kept calling to us. We kept it simple and bought birthday presents for my mom and sister and something for my grandmother since I've been so bad the past three years about sending gifts for special occasions.
The best part about Venice was the delicious, cheap food, and the cheap clothes (though I haven't bought anything yet). Trains are also cheaper than in France, though you pay more for faster trains, which makes sense but is annoying. It sucks having to transfer three times to go to a city that's not that far away. But it's worth it to save some money because we haven't had any luck finding couchsurfers in Florence, Siena, or Rome. We're really stressed because we won't get our AmVil paychecks or Andrew's university check until the first week of July. We'll eventually have money to pay for this trip, but in the meantime we have to use credit cards and lots of places don't accept them.
Venice is such a beautiful city that we were disappointed to have to hide indoors all day. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be when it's not pouring rain. Today we're leaving Venice and heading to Florence and Pisa.