After a four-night stay, we left Rome's Hotel Alexandra this morning and took a short taxi ride to Tiburtina terminal to catch an 8:45 morning train to Venice. A nice couple from Miami gave us some helpful rail tips, including the need to validate our tickets.
We slept a little bit on the train and saw some of the Tuscan countryside enroute to Venice. I had a strange hankering for a sandwich when we made a scheduled stop in Bologna. A short while later, we were in Venice at Santa Lucia terminal, where we transitioned from train travel to boat -- A vaporetto (water bus) that had us on the Grand Canal in no time. I recognized our hotel by sight from the boat, based on photos I had seen on Travel Advisor.
After check-in, we hopped back on the vaporetto and went to St Mark's Square. The sun gave way to storm clouds and we endured a torrential downpour under the awning of St Mark's Cathedral, until a guard shooed us away for being in an apparently non-public area. Oops. It worked out anyway as our time had arrived for our pre-scheduled visit of the cathedral. It was much darker inside than any of us had imagined, but still interesting. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel so the kids could enjoy a short siesta while Kristin and I explored Venice's back alleys, stumbling upon the impressive St Mary of the Friars church and an aperol spritz at a cozy little bar.
We ate pizza at a spot close to our hotel and I frantically learned the Italian word for sausage on my iPhone app so Sam could have a little taste of home. He already has learned that pepperoni pizza doesn't really exist here.
After dinner it was off to St Mark's square again for a stroll in the cool night area with flashes of lightning in the distance. We walked by the Doge's palace, which we will be seeing tomorrow and enjoyed some live and very good music on the square for our nightcap. Back to hotel late evening for much-needed sleep.