It's 8:45 pm and every restaurant is spilling with people out the door. We walk around from Ristorante to Osteria and can't find a place without a 30 minute wait. We shouldn't be shocked. It's Saturday night and everyone and their dog (literally) is out to eat. Our stomachs rumble as we smell fried fish and watch as luscious iced aperitivos pass by on trays.
I Google “nearby restaurants” and we walk a quarter mile to a place with good reviews. It's bad news. This place has literally dozens of people outside. There's no place to sit. But the live band playing Motown and funk music caught our ear.
We head inside and find that the restaurant is self service. You order at the bar, then find a place to sit or stand. Thinking we might be out of luck, we decide to place our bets and order the fried food steaming beneath the glass windows, begging to be plated. We ask for a plate of the waitresses favorites. Of course, she speaks English and kindly picks some sizzling fish and fried battered bites for us to eat. We grab a beer and a wine and find a spot to stand near the music. Suddenly, all is right with the world. Etta James' “Something's Gotta Hold on Me” is played by the band, the food is delicious, and a spot opens up at a table. We grab our seats and enjoy the show and the food.
The next day we decide to sleep in. Okay, so we slept for nearly 11 hours. I needed it. I have been traveling for the past month, with only 3 days at home. For seasoned travelers they would probably roll their eyes. But to travel like this can wear you down, so I opted for sleep.
We decided to “take it easy.” I put that in quotes because it didn't end up exactly that way. But we did spend a leisurely time moseying the streets of Venice and the Grand Canal, eating gelato as the sea breeze drifted by, and watching the sun eclipse the sky late in the day.
We decided to go to St. Mark's square, visit the church filled with 45,000 feet of (for real) gold mosaics, then head over to the opulent museum. Even though we said we wouldn't go to a museum that day, we just couldn't say no to getting a peak into the past.
But really, this whole city is a glimpse of what was. The water lapping up above the steps of 16th century homes and palaces is truly something out of a story book. If anything, Italy has taught me that you can mix old world charm and opulence from the past and it's still very relevant today.
We spent the evening wandering the streets with no plans at all. It's an island, so you can't really get lost. We found a park lined with purple wisteria, flanked by a church and a playground. Kids were singing and an old man sat with his very old dog and watched the world go by. It made me stop and realize about how wonderful this world really is, filled with so many people. But I'm lamenting too much here, so I'll stop. But really, the dog was pretty adorable.
I can't believe I've waited this long to visit such a magical little place. But I already know I'll be back.