"What about an all-inclusive or a cruise?" I said, thinking we could cut down on food costs and still see some sights, maybe in the Caribbean somewhere.
"What about that cruise line that sank? They should be pretty cheap right now..." mused my husband.
Thinking he was kidding, I checked it out anyhow and lo and behold, they were. Extremely. A couple days later we found ourselves booked in a cheapie interior cabin on a week-long Costa cruise, bookended with some time in beautiful Italia.
We flew Aer Lingus into Dublin and then onto Rome. It was a beautiful day to fly over Europe, and we had an amazing view of the Alps.
Travelling was hard. We drove 8 hours to JFK, then flew to Rome, and then got on a train. By the time we arrived in Venice, we were exhausted and ready to crash.
Stepping out onto the steps of the Santa Lucia station, we forgot we were dirty and hungry and tired and in sore need of a cocktail. It was magic, and we couldn't stop smiling. The sea air smelled warm and heavy, the canals were lit with sparkling lights, and people everywhere seemed to be in a festive mood. I highly recommend seeing Venice for the first time at night.
Our lodging for the night was Hotel Dalla Mora , a short walk from the train station, and a great choice - extremely helpful and friendly staff! We quickly learned that a wrong turn in Venice can be a costly error, especially if there are no bridges readily available. We spent a good 10 minutes standing across the canal from the hotel (see where the people are standing below?), wondering how the hell we were supposed to get over there.
Our host recommended Casin dei Nobili for dinner, so after a quick shower and change of clothes, we made our way down into the Sestiere Dorsoduro. It was not fancy, a little touristy, but the food was hot and the wine was good.
The following day we had a little bit of time before we had to board the ship, so we wandered around, walking through the rain to the Punta Della Dogana, where we had great views of both St. Mark's and San Giorgio.
Then back across the Accademia (beautiful, even in the rain)...
...to St. Mark's Square. We were hopeful it would be dry when we returned from the cruise so we could enjoy an overpriced cappuccino and people-watch in one of the cafes.
The nice thing about the rain is that it makes a great excuse to go shopping.
Leaving Venice that night, the rain lifted and we leaned over the observation deck with our cameras, all giddy and googly-eyed. It could have been very romantic, but we geeked out and filmed the whole thing instead.
We LOVED Venice, and were super-stoked we got to spend more time there on our return.
all photos, ours