We began Lucy's birthday with a very early morning trip. We went to our nearest airport, Leeds-Bradford International Airport, which serves fine airlines like RyanAir and Jet2. Both of these airlines are famous for their low prices and lack of any frills whatsoever. They make Southwest look like British Airways. I can't complain, because we always have gotten where we were going with reasonable efficiency and no lost luggage or delays.
Anyway, we arrived at the airport and Lucy started demanding hot chocolate. We promised that we'd find some for her on the other side of security, just in case we ran into any problems. Amazingly, we had no troubles at all. On the other side, we discovered a Burger King that had a really long line. One of the airport workers said there was a cafe closer to the gates. We went there. The checkout guy was a Russian and asked if I wanted cash back from my £20 bill. For a £3 hot chocolate! It was the sort of joke he asked everyone using cash rather than a credit card. We didn't quite get the joke since we were still had early morning grogginess. Lucy did get her hot chocolate and a mustache too!
|At least it's the right color for her!|
We headed off to our gate. Our gate led us to a bus which drove us five minutes to our plane out in the middle of the airport. All four of us had to get off and over to the plane (a slow process with two toddlers) but we didn't have to fight to get seats together. We splurged on getting seats assigned (an extra charge on Jet2).
Actual flight time went quickly with minimal trouble from the kids. Jacob wanted to go potty, of course. The fasten seat belts sign was still on but he said he had an emergency, so I took him back to the toilet. We both managed to fit inside and got our business done.
Landing went smoothly as well. Since we only took carry-ons we didn't have to bother with baggage claim and could head right out to the bus to take us to Venice proper. Well, right after another potty trip.
We finally arrived at the Vaporetto, which is the public transportation system in Venice. If you know anything about the city, you know it is full of canals that are the main avenues to transport anything. Cars are absent. We got off at the bus station and figured out which dock had our boat, the 5.1.
|Our first view of Venice|
The hotel was the Don Orione Religious Guest House. It was a great favorite of Jacob's, because it has this fabulous staircase.
After he discovered it, he hardly wanted to take the elevator any more. He loved walking up and down. He loved the way his voice echoed. We were happy that the stairs were more or less shielded from the rooms, so loud noises were not a distraction.
Once we were settled, we headed out for a little lunch. We asked the front desk for a recommendation. They pointed us to a little place just down the street, on the Grand Canal right under the shadow of the Academy Bridge, or Ponte dell'Accademia as the locals call it. It is one of only four bridges to span the Grand Canal
We found it with no problems. I had my first Italian beer, which wasn't very good. Even serving it in a German glass couldn't help it.
|The pizza was really good, though!|
When we were done eating, Jacob and I headed up the bridge to see the view. The first thing Jacob wanted to see was where Mommy was sitting at the restaurant.
|Not really visible here, sorry Mommy!|
Though maybe he wanted her to see him up so high. We looked in both directions and enjoyed the spectacular view.
|View from atop Ponte dell'Accademia|
|Other view from atop Ponte dell'Accademia|
The bridge was reminiscent of the one in Hiedelberg. On the bridge were dozen upon dozens of padlocks.
These padlocks all had names carved on them. Young lovers memorialize their love this way. I guess there aren't enough trees to go around in Venice.
Across the bridge was a very impressive building, the Instituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti, or maybe the Instituto Europeo di Design. Either way, it is a pretty building.
|Beautiful location with limited parking|
We did not visit it. Instead, we walked back to the hotel for naps. On the way, we saw a massive cruise ship go by at the end of the street.
|You can just see the top deck and smoke stack over the trees|
Jacob had a hard time spotting it, presumably because a ship shouldn't be so tall. We were all impressed. Lucy then asked for ice cream. Italy is famous for its gelato, which is their version of ice cream. It is creamy and wonderful. Since it was her birthday, we took her for some green apple gelato. Her only complaint was we bought it in a cone and not in a cup.
Don't you wish you were our daughter and we'd take you to Venice for gelato on your birthday? Hopefully she remembers how well we treated her. Or maybe she shouldn't remember, so we don't have to constantly up the ante in future years!