Guest post by Rob.
I guess if no one else is going to write about what we've been doing, I might as well.
At the end of the last episode, our heroes had just left Florence, headed toward Venice. We got there just as the sun went down.
A small aside: we drove through bologna on the way and would have like to have visited the birthplace of Oscar Mayer, but alas, it was not to be.
Here we are on the first bridge leading from the parking lot into Venice. Our apartment was about a half a kilometer on the island, so we had to cross several bridges before we could unload our stuff.
Our apartment was in a great location, just off the main walking route. It had everything that we needed, but the hallway outside our rooms stank. It was awful. We had to hold our breath as we unlocked the doors to get in. So the first item of business was walking to the nearby grocery store for a bottle of Oust (thank you Proctor and Gamble for this wonderful invention). We emptied more than half the bottle in our apartment and the stench became almost bearable.
On our walk to the store (and to find something to eat):
We had high hopes of finding a nice restaurant that would make everyone happy. But it was a little late and no one could agree on what to get, so we ended up at McDonald's where the kids got chicken nuggets and fries.
I know, I know... it's sacrilege to stop at an American fast food place while we're in home of pasta and other Italian delights. But here's a secret. It's actually happened several times (not just in Venice, but everywhere we go). Though we don't usually order food.
Please don't judge us.
You see, McDonald's has clean bathrooms. And traveling with four kids pretty much means that we are looking for the next toilet as much as we are looking for the next tourist attraction.
Believe me, we wish it were otherwise.
Thank you Ronald, and Mayor McCheese, and Grimace, and Hamburglar for being there for us when we needed you. You guys are awesome.
Tonight the kids got food:
Then we hopped on a water taxi to find a place where the adults could eat. We found a place rated highly on Yelp, but then Michelle felt bad about taking in three kids who wouldn't be eating, so we ended up going back to the apartment and making a couple of pizzas. On the way she took a quick photo of Pont di Rialto, the oldest of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal:
The problem with having only two weeks in Italy is that there simply isn't enough time to see everything. We only had two nights here (and a day and a half) so we had a lot to go see today.
But it was cold. Rome had been beautiful but Venice was cold and wet. And some of us weren't quite prepared for the cold. Joey and I needed hats to keep our perfectly coiffed heads warm.
So we went in search of a merchant. (See what I did there?)
Joey sporting the only hat that a "cool guy" could possibly consider.
Then we took the express waterbus around the islands (not the Grand Canal) and got off near Saint Mark's. It was raining off and on as we walked toward the cathedral and square.
Of course, this being Venice, there are plenty of opportunities for scenic photos. Unfortunately, another side effect of traveling with a big family is that we usually get in the way of the scenery. Like here:
Michelle and the girls stopped to look for a charm for their necklaces (sorry that important moment isn't memorialized with a photo), so the boys and I started window shopping—looking into the windows of this confectionery. Look at those yummy... fish.
Yep, those are fish laying there in the window next to the tiramisu. Yum, you say. We had to get one.
Marzipan never looked so good:
These next photos are a little out of order, because we didn't actually sit down to eat our delicious friend until later that night, but you can see the kids had a lot of fun playing with our "fish". First Ellie (this is one of my favorite photos from our trip so far):
Why no picture of Joey here? Well, there seems to be a little dispute running about who has the "right" to post a photo to Instagram. Joey wouldn't let me take his picture because he didn't want me to post the photo before he could. So to see his photo, friend him on Instagram: @johansapapa
Back to our walk through Venice. We passed canals and bridges.
And gondolas. And canals. And bridges.
And the latest fashions. Love the veiled motorcycle helmet that is "in" this year at Dior.
Getting in the way of the scenery, or making memories... depends on whether you are a painter or a grandma:
Hey, check this out. Another canal:
Here we are in Piazza San Marco (or as the Texans call it, Saint Mark's Square). This is the biggest public square in Venice, in front of the Cathedral. The girls posing...
Now everyone posing, except we're looking the wrong way. We're all watching as a seagull swoops in and steals a sandwich out of the hand of a toddler in a stroller. Also notice the second seagull who sees the same thing and photo bombs us while trying to get part of the sandwich:
In front of the Doge's Palace:
Photos weren't allowed inside the cathedral or the palace, but I grabbed a little detail shot on our way in. This guy is carved into the top of a column in the entry way:
In the courtyard of the palace, looking toward the cathedral.
Standing under the portico at the palace, waiting for the rain to pass. These guys are cold, but having a great time.
In the background is the Bridge of Sighs—called that because it was the bridge that goes from the courts in the palace to the cold, dark, and foul-smelling prison across the canal. There are small windows on the bridge where the prisoners would get their last glimpse of the free world before being locked up. Apparently they sighed as they looked out.
Or maybe they caught a glimpse of this handsome bunch. Who wouldn't sigh?
The campanile. Notice the wet pavement and lack of tourists. We pretty much had the place to ourselves:
The clock tower:
Then we took the waterbus back to the apartment. Everyone was cold and a little grumpy, so we settled for a quick dinner and put everyone to bed.
The next day we took our suitcases to the car, then decided to take a last trip up the Grand Canal. The weather was a little better today. Still cold, but at least the rain had let up.
Ainsley and Dad on the waterbus back through the Grand Canal.
Everybody sitting in the open air on the waterbus and looking at the unique buildings. Michelle came out of the warm shelter just long enough to snap the picture and go back. It was cold.
A few more shots on the bus as we toured the Grand Canal one more time. One shot, three unintentionally goofy faces (usually this happens when they're trying):
A cool building on the canal. Venice is full of these:
Michelle makes a brief appearance in the open air deck on the waterbus:
I believe that is the Church of the Salute on the Grand Canal. Sadly, we didn't have time to pay a visit. Notice the smiles.:
The Doge's Palace from the Canal:
We stopped for a day-time photo at Rialto.
And because film is free, we took another.
And another from the top of the bridge looking up the canal towards the mainland.
Fun fact: My brother Jake was at the Rialto the day before someone set off a bomb there (a few years ago). Oddly he was in Boston the day before someone set a bomb off there too. Lesson: don't go anywhere the day after Jake goes.
We left Rialto and walked over to Grom for Gelato and hot chocolate. The best we've had so far. In fact, we regretted not going back for seconds as we left the island.
Love this shot Michelle took:
And this one. Blue sky makes a nice difference:
One of my favorite things to do when I get to a new city is to wander around, finding cool stuff that isn't in the tourist books. Or stumbling across a nice little restaurant, full of locals. Sadly it isn't always Michelle's favorite thing to do. After getting lost in the Jewish ghetto (everyone was getting tired and starting to whine about hunger), we stopped for a fantastic lunch at this place (forgot the name but could show you where it is on the map). The calzone was awesome. Important lesson: we wouldn't have found it if we hadn't been wandering...
Feasting with Joey and his new hat.
Then back to the car, which was parked on the roof of the parking lot, where I grabbed this last picture of Venice before we left for Cantu.
Let's face it. The blog is a little behind. If you want to see what we've done lately check out @marsh8 on Instgram. More photos, less witty banter.