HERE it is. The trip. THE Trip. Our Honeymoon. Our 1 year anniversary. An unknown. A ballsy move. A dream coming true. The money has been stashed away via grinding and frugality. The course has been plotted. 1. Breathe in the romance and mystique of Venice. 2. Cross the Adriatic to the Istria and Dalmatia regions in Croatia for wine, fish and sunsets. 3. Then on to the tantalizing and unknown Montenegro. And a night in Vienna to put a cherry on top.
the honeymoon of a lifetime begins…
7.31.2016. WE landed in Venice feeling rough. Our spirits fought valiantly against the delays, time zones and general unpleasantness of modern international travel, but looking back physiology won the day. It was all a blur, but it was all the first, best, most important at the time. We are here. Our Honeymoon begins in Venice.
“first day in Venezia, thinking about how amazing it is to be here with the love of your life. No more traveling alone and eating alone.” d.
“the dream trip of a lifetime has begun…after a pizza and a nap everything is starting to feel in its right place…” a.
OUR hotel in Venice was an approachable oasis. Hotel Liassidi Palace was the perfect home base for the “honeymoon” phase of this journey. Well enveloped into Ancient Venice’s folds, but at the same time…just far off the beaten path to escape the plodding hordes of tourists. Fantastic service, spotless cozy room, perched right next to the Ponte dei Greci. The Aperol Spritz happy hour in the courtyard out front drew envied glances from passers by. It felt authentically Venetian, yet comfortably modern.
OUR first night in Venice we spent getting lost in the lanes…literally. Our attempt to cross the island and find the Rialto with only our sense of direction led to a mind boggling reminder that this labyrinth will take time to grow accustomed to. Lack of sleep and food didn’t help, so after giving up on the Rialto for now we grabbed a quick dinner and headed back to the hotel to succumb to the jet lag.
8.1.2016 OUR one year anniversary of marriage arrived with a gorgeous Venetian morning.
Bodies and minds refreshed, we grabbed breakfast at the hearty Hotel buffet (included), and set out to see the sights. Venice is undeniably magnificent. It is also undeniably filled to capacity with shuffling tourists, and scorching hot in August. That said, our spirits and imaginations soared as we explored the magic principality. We strolled the Piazza San Marco and toured the Doge Palace, before taking in the view from the San Marco Bell tower. After a quick but cooling rain shower, we grabbed some cicchetti (venetian style tapas) and a pair of spritz’s before heading back home to get ready for the celebration.
THE prosecco was perfectly endless this splendid eve, starting with a bottle comped by the Hotel Liassadi which we brought to search the lanes for our gondola. To ride a gondola in Venice will run you at least 80 euro, but you only celebrate your first trip around the sun married once in your life, so clearly it was worth every lira. This evening it seemed like the gondoliers had all packed up and left with the cruise ship day walkers, but thanks to Destino we ended up hooking up with Marco; a Popeye-esque rock of a man with decades of gondolier experience and refined gift for allowing us privacy while knowing when to chime in with history, photo opts and recommendations. The ride, and now second bottle of prosecco, were beyond sublime. The 45 minutes flew by and we were back on tierra firme, and ready for dinner at Terrazza Danieli.
“an absolute dream. full of new vibes. full of love, and excitement. this is just the beginning” d.
“our one year anniversary…and here we are celebrating in Venice. this day dream I’ve had over and over. We fought hard for it and now Destino has allowed it to be the most wonderful reality” a.
DINNER at the amazingly set Ristorante Danieli Terrace as the sun dropped away and the orange lights twinkled on below, was a luxe experience we’ll tell our grand kids about. Quite frankly, this dinner was fanciest we’ve ever felt, and what a day to celebrate. We were on our honeymoon, and we had our first year of many under our marital belt. The service was friendly (yet inattentive), so we had plenty of time to cheers to our love and rehydrate with a bottle or two of prosecco. Although we chose this spot for the ambiance (and the name caught our eye), the food was good enough…even if a bit unnecessarily “modern”. To be honest we’d say get a pizza before hand if you are looking for a full meal, but buy wine and a few “meals” while you enjoy the view for a special occasion and it will be very memorable. We soaked up the prosseco with beef tartare, gorgonzola tortellini, and branzino rollitini, reminiscing about how far we’ve come.
RIDING high on the romance and prosecco train, we strolled the fairy tale San Marco Square, which must be one of the most romantic places on earth. We danced and splashed in puddles and happily gave props to Destino for this blessed moment.
For a nightcap we weaved onward to our favorite “late night local” Venice bar. Magna Beni Tasi is open late with reggaton pumping. We wish we could describe how to get there, but its somewhere between San Marco Square and our hotel and if you follow your ears it seems to be the only popular after-hours bar; at least in our neighborhood in August. They have Augustiner, a good selection of Sierra Nevada and an impressive handful of international craft beer. The spritz’s flowed but after turning down the treacherous grappa road at Magna Beni, the dream night of a life time floated its way to a blissful end. After a night of pinching ourselves, we’re left wondering if we’d wake up “tomorrow” and do it all for real….
“one of those moments when you are dreaming awake…”. d.
“the piazza at night is by far the most romantic place I’ve been, but this night is a dream no sane man would think possible…” a.
8.2.2016 LIDO di Venezia is a lovely place. The little town around the vaporetto dock is lovely, the tree lined rows of pleasant mansions are lovely, the public beach is a lovely glimpse into local life with families and couples crammed into the section not owned by the majestic resorts. Its hard to put one’s finger on it, but there is an eastern european touch to the architecture here, adding to the “otherness” from Venice proper. Today was our first view of what was to be our third companion on this trip; the Adriatic Sea. There are spritz’s, there is a beer guy selling cold Peronis out of his cart. Syncopated italian floats above the sound of lapping waves. Our first heavenly beach day of many to come.
And we needed it. One day into our second year of marriage we are both a little rough around the edges. Last night was simply amazing. Best night of our lives…no hyperbole…but the endless prosecco had our bells ringing. No better cure than a dip in the Adriatic, and an ice cold spritz.
“our first european beach day! the water is different, this is not the caribbean but it is something special” d.
“damn i love Lido di Venezia. a little known nook of the world, off the beaten path.” a
8.3.2016 OUR last day in Venice we finished the rounds of our “must-sees” in La Serrissima. By now we had a basic spatial familiarity with Venice and managed to navigate our way to Fundament Nouve, and the ferry to Burano. Its no secret that Burano is a photographic Shangri-La, but even though the ratio of selfie-sticks to native Buranese was something like 45:1; it really is a unique place. The vibe is totally different than Venice, feeling more like a post-tribal fishing village than a borough of Venice (*ignoring said tourists- pro tip; walk on the sunny side to avoid the crowds…tourists hate heat). We braved the heat to wonder the lanes, taking snaps along the way. Its not just the vibrant houses that are over saturated with color, in the beaming summer sun it seemed every hue was on crack. It must be weird to live here and have ferry loads of tourists dropped off every 25 minutes to take selfies with the junk in your front yard…but goddamnit with the gorgeously colored houses their junk look molto beautiful!
ADAM’s vote for favorite meal in Venice ended up being here on Burano. To escape the heat we stopped into the quaint Ristorante Ai Cesendeli for a late lunch next to the main canal. Providing blessed shade and outdoor seating, the vibe was right and the spritz’s were spritzey. The spaghetti vongole wins for being the freshest, tastiest dish in Venetian territory. Clams and perfect pasta dressed in a light garlic and white wine sauce.
THE night’s activity was the dream button on our time in Venice; the Opera. We dressed to the 9’s and strode into the seductive Venetian night. La Fenice, the world famous Venetian opera house, didn’t have anything going the nights we were there so we opted to try a showing of The Barber of Seville with the Musica aPalazzo troupe. Following the treasure map, we wound our way from lane to lane, eventually ending up in a dead end dark alley. A boy standing in the shadows asked, “Opera?” and gestured toward an even darker portico. Upstairs the door opened up to a large, classic venetian chamber we entered the palace this opera takes place in. The building is called Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto. Maybe 30 seats were set up in this room, the first of 3 that the opera took place in. Adam admits to feeling bummed we couldn’t get in a “real” opera at first glance on this potentially gimmicky option, but friends this was amazing. Fact 1: Neither of us knew what Barber of Seville was about, Fact: This was both of our first opera, Fact: 3 Neither of us speak Italian (especially not Adam). Helped by the familiar songs (Figaro, Figaro, Fiiiiiiiiiiiigaro!), and the intimacy of the performance space (body language and facial expressions we never would’ve seen from a stage helped greatly), we were both captivated and entertained. The first act was in one room, next a brief prosecco break (yes!), then act 2 in an adjoining parlor, with the final frame in an elaborate bedroom. As iconic as La Fenice is, we would highly recommend a show with Musica aPalazzo a one’s entry into the world of opera.
“on my bucket list. First time and what a great choice, a different way to experience the opera” d.
“the barber of seville may be the only opera I’ve actually heard of, but after tonight I swear its the best opera ever” a.
After the show we were beyond starving, and although late night eating is a hard find (at least in the touristy zones) we found a perfectly adequate little place near San Marco square called Piccolo Martini. Our last meal of pizza and pasta in Italy, and a few last spritz’s and we were on our way to our last night sleep in Venice. The square was covered in a few inches of water, which multiplied the beauty but also a sobering reminder that this fragile place might not be here for our grandkids if humanity doesn’t get a handle on global warming; adding to the heaviness of this departure. As the orchestra at Cafe Lavena its last song of the night (“I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder) and the bellower struck midnight we took our last stroll through San Marco Square and sadly left the magic of La Serrisima behind. Arrivederci Italia.
“Arriverdici Venezia! the magical honeymoon is over, the backpacking starts now!” d.
“and off we go!! andiamo! next we take a boat, to a train, to a bus. leave Italy, drive through Slovenia and finally begin the adventure portion of this trip in Porec, Croatia” a.