Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Running through the Waters of Venice

The first thing we hit was the train station to figure out if we could make Oktoberfest. The plan:

9/26/08: 10AM Arrive HEC, 2:30PM Leave for Oktoberfest, 9PM Arrive Munich
9/27/08: 2:30PM Leave Oktoberfest, 4PM Arrive Stratgurt, 11PM Leave Stratgurt
9/28/08: 6AM Arrive Paris

Haha, oh, our crazy plans!

Upon reaching the Duomo, we stumbled upon the sign below:

Sign at the entrance of the Duomo. I hate walking.

Needless to say, we were exhausted once we reached the top, but the pictures were priceless! The UNESCO World Heritage Site remains the largest brick dome ever constructed and the church's size is surpassed only in width by Rome's Pantheon.

On top of the world at the top of the Duomo

Apparently, another hostel guest complained that Julia slept in "her" assigned bed; and thus, the manager kept Julia's luggage until she paid 15euros. Meanwhile, Lillie tried to figure out Oktoberfest tickets during which I checked out which platform we needed for our upcoming train. Luckily, we all met up just in time to catch the train - stressful!

Tip: Make train reservations from Florence to Venice. It will be worth the piece of mind on this usually full trip!

Venice is a quite a unique town as it is a city built on water! With its canals and villas, the city is as aesthetically beautiful as it is culturally beautiful.

Standing upon the Bridge of Sighs

A beautiful wedding couple in the middle of St. Mark's Square

While the others went inside St. Mark's Basilica, one of the best churches exemplifying Byzantine architecture, I made my way next door to Palazzo Ducale a.k.a. Doge's Palace. It was here that Casanova escaped from jail! Not too interested in the actual living quarters of the various dodges and due to the fact that the others would be waiting for me, I ran through over 30+ rooms in thirty minutes just to see my prisons! Good fun!

Tip: Really try to plan your trip to take the Secret Itineraries Tour of Palazzo Ducale. The tour allows one to see the secret part of the prison unavailable to the general public!

The prisons of Doge's Palace. You go, Casanova!

We then of course, headed off to a traditional gondola ride. Yes, it's a tourist trap, but yes, everyone must do it at least once! Ours decided to have a little fun by slanting the gondola whenever anyone stood up and pointed out Casanova's private offices by yelling out "sex machine!" Oh, geez.

Tip: Most gondoliers will charge 80euros for a whole boat. Negotiation will depend on the number in one's party, but one can easily negotiate down to 20euros per person.

On the gondola - classic!

On the way to the Rialto Market, the smell of deliciousness caught up to us! We were drawn into Pasticceria Marchini to try their conolos! Now that's good marketing!

At the Rialto Market, one can buy anything from dolls to magnets to Venetian masks of course!

Tip: The genuine Venetian masks will have an official stamp on the back. Otherwise, it's a knockoff!

Venetian masks abound this city - beautiful!

Venice is another quaint town like Pisa - I could really live here for a bit! We took the 6:52PM train from Venice to arrive in Milan at 10PM. We stayed with Lillie's Italian friends, Fabio and Humberto who cooked us home-made pasta! Sweet!

That night, we went clubbing at Old Fashion and just danced the night away. And yes, the Italian men were aggressive that night! Thus, it was nice to have two boys that acted as our protectors/fake boyfriends.

Clubbing with the boys in Old Fashion

Great day in Florence, Venice, and Milan! Here's to the Eurorail pass as we could use our tickets all day for free!

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