We were to leave Rome in a few hours, and we realized we haven't gone to one of the wonders of the world. So, we woke up early, had breakfast, and took a taxi to the most visited landmark in Rome next to the Vatican.
The Colosseum was proclaimed one of the New Wonders of the World. As we approached the ruins, I was wondering how much of a wonder it was inside.
Well, aside from the historical glory and gore that made the Colosseum immortal, the ruins were a bit disappointing. The entire structure was not as grand as I thought it would be. Well, tourists were only allowed up tot eh second level, so you really won't be able to get a full view from above.
There was an arc nearby, and more ancient ruins. There was a nice view from the 2nd level deck. There were just too many tourists, since it was the holiday season. It took us around an hour to explore, and after buying some souvenirs, we took a taxi back to our hotel to check out. We rushed to the train station to catch our ride to our next destination: Venice!
Needless to say, we were very excited for Venice. The city of canals is one of my dream destinations, and not just for romance, but for adventure and culture.
We got 2nd class tickets in got this very comfortable cabin. The train was really impressive. How I wish we had trains like these. There was even free Wifi onboard.
There was also a nice bar in one of the coaches that served great ham and cheese sandwich. It was a total of almost 4 hours from Rome to Venice so we got pretty hungry. We arrived in cold Venice early evening, and got surprised that most of the shops were already closed. We rode a ferry to San Angelo that was the nearest stop to our hotel, Palazzo Paruto.
I researched about the location of our hotel while in the train. However, we still got lost. We were just supposed to take 3 turns from the station, but ended up stumped in the middle of San Angelo Square. From there, we called the receptionist and asked if he could meet us up in the square. Turned out that the hotel was very nearby, it just didn't have a lit sign. The hotel from outside didn't look like a palace, and the receptionist was kind of hostile towards us.
However, all of our frustration melted away when we were led to our room. Now this is Venice. Our room was exquisitely palatial, and this was their standard one. We were booked in a room beside the courtyard so it opened up literally to the garden.
The bathroom was pure marble, though a bit small. We really felt so much better when we settled in. Our excitement was back, but we were also very hungry. We wanted to eat in a nice and highly recommended restaurant, but were worried that we would get lost again. So, we took out our Blackberries and navigated ourselves to our choice of restaurant: Da Mario.
It was a good thing that Da Mario was relatively nearby, since it was freezing outside. The alleys were empty, and it was only 8PM. It seems that the Venetians retire early.
Da Mario is run by a rather intimidating old lady who nevertheless makes you smile. She came up to us and told us that they were already closed. As our faces turned sour again, she smiled and said she could accommodate us as their last guests for the night. More guests came, but they were all turned down. And it was just 8:30pm.
It was our first meal in Venice, and we were glad we had it here. The food was authentically home cooked - simple and straight forward. The ravioli was excellent, the meat sauce was rightfully savory and sweet at the same time. The pasta was al dente perfection. We had fish and pork chops as well for our main course. Both were again simple but very satisfying.
We left Da Mario satisfied, and hungry for more great dining in the coming days. We decided to walk around for a while, and as expected got lost again. We used our Blackberries again to navigate the confusing alleyways, and ended up shopping and drinking along the way. Needless to say, we slept like babies in our beautiful bed.