I love it when my husband gets bored, he books us trips… and this time back to Paris and an additional treat, Venice.
It was Spring, and the gardener in me was so giddy and excited to see the parks in Paris exploding in colors again. He thoughtfully booked a hotel near Jardin Du Luxembourg, the second largest public park in Paris located in the 6th arrondissement. The park is garden to the French Senate which is located in the Luxembourg Palace.
After retracing our footsteps to all the iconic places in this City of Lights like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and lit a candle at Notre Dame, we visited one church that was in my bucket list, Sainte-Chapelle, the Jewel Box. This is a Gothic chapel in the heart of the city. It houses one of the most extensive collections of 13th century stained glass. It was built to house Louis IX’s collection of Christ’s relics which includes the Crown of Thorns.
These stained glass panels were taken down for safe-keeping during World War II.
We spent our last day there just walking around the parks, shopping and eating. There was something refreshing with the slow-pace-nothing-planned-day we had since we have seen everything. We finally learned to enjoy Paris unrushed!
After three days in Paris, we flew to Venice and took a water bus (vaporetto) from the Marco Polo Airport stopping near the Rialto Bridge which is the oldest bridge across the Grand Canal. We found it amazing that we found our hotel right away after going thru a maze they call calles. That gave us the confidence of locating it again once we ventured out. However, sensing that it was easy to get lost, we started memorizing landmarks, either a wall or a shop that we passed along the way. We found our way back to the Rialto Bridge which seemed to be the center of a lot of activities. We had the best pizza at the Ristorante Rialto and wine while enjoying the scenery.
At the end of our first day getting to know this City of Love, we decided to go back to our hotel. We soon found out that all the wine we drank that day washed away all our memorized landmarks from our brain. Everything looked the same–the calles, callettes or callesalles. Asking the locals for directions was also futile because the only answer we could get from them was “diretto” which means straight ahead. Yes, we got lost in our first day in Venice and we found it rather comical because in our attempt to find our hotel, we also found out that we were not the only ones who got lost. At least three couples came up to us asking for directions. During our search, we stumbled upon Bacarro Jazz, a fascinating restaurant-bar where so many women left their bras behind in exchange for a Bacarro Jazz t-shirt. These bras are on display hanging from the bar’s ceiling. I refused to leave the bar flat-chested so I kept mine, hahaha! This place is one of the few bars in Venice that is open after 11 PM and one of the best. After hanging out there for a little while, we made another attempt to find our hotel and this time we were lucky!
Our second day was better for us navigating our way thru the maze. Venice, as the capital of the Venetto region, developed into a city state from the 9th to the 12th century. It played an important role in the flourishing trade industry because of its strategic location. Located in the marshy Venetian Lagoon, it is known for its architecture, artworks and for its beautiful setting.
Its name is from the ancient word Veneti, the people who inhabited the region in the 10th century B.C.
After enjoying shopping on the Rialto Bridge, we soon found ourselves admiring the St. Mark’s Basilica which is one of the best known example of Italo-Byzantine architecture which lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco connected to the Doge’s Palace. Its opulent design made it a symbol of Venetian wealth and power. Going up all the way to the top of the Basilica to see the replica of St. Mark’s horses was a special treat.
We were then invited by a Department of Tourism representative to visit the islands of Murano. A tender boat took us there. Murano is a series of islands linked together by bridges in the lagoon which is famous for its glass making. Needless to say, my husband was so impressed by the quality of their craftsmanship that he bought a chandelier which was shipped to our house.
On the boat, we admired the imposing structure of Santa Maria Della Salute. This church was designed in the baroque styles of Baldasarre Longhena constructed in 1631 built as a votive offering for Venice’s deliverance from the devastating outbreak of the plague.
In our three days there, we favored certain restaurants, Osteria alle Testiere located at Calle del Mondo Novo and Trattoria Alla Ferrata were I found the best pasta dishes ever and I am a finicky pasta eater.
We ended our vacation with a gondola ride taking it all in. Although our trip was short, we have wonderful memories that will last us a lifetime!