Sunday, October 11, 2009

Venice: Hotel on the pesce!

In order to break up the several food posts ahead, I thought I'd introduce our Venice hotel to you! I showed pictures of all of the other hotels we had booked, but due to last minute trip stuff, I never got around to showing pictures of the Venice hotel. So now you get the actual pictures that I took!

We stayed at Al Doge Beato, which is located on the actual island of Venice. After watching the Rick Steves Venice episode, we quickly decided that there was no way we'd be staying on the mainland. With that in mind, we started searching for hotels that fit our budget.

This was actually the first hotel we booked. I don't remember how we found it, or how we decided on it so quickly. Ok, that's kind of a lie....I know we found it on trip advisor. The ratings were good, the rooms looked spacious (which seemed uncommon for Europe), and there was a small canal near by.

Besides a little trouble we had checking in and some issues with something left behind (more about these in a later post), we had a great stay here! I think I'd give it 4/5 stars (4 out of 5, not to be confused with 4/5 of a star) for a European hotel! We went not expecting much, but we were pleasantly surprised =)

So now some pictures of our Venetian hotel:

The hairdryer! I just thought it was weird-looking...

View from our balcony, to the left (at night there are tables set out for the restaurant below). Oh, and our canal view

View from our balcony, to the right

Another view of our room....taken from the bathroom

And that is it! Our Venice hotel!! I think we got a pretty good idea of what to expect after looking at Trip Advisor. Oh, and I definitely plan on writing a review for every place we stayed, and everywhere we ate. The reviews we read and pictures we saw while we were booking were extremely helpful! So I urge you to do the same =)

Ok, get ready for a few more food posts!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Venice: The Food! (Part 1)

We had AMAZING food while in Europe, so of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share every meal we ate!!! Before we got there, I was planning on eating tons of seafood and pasta, and drinking lots of wine, and that's exactly what we did! Be prepared...this is kind of a long post, so feel free to just look at the pictures! (Oh, and I've decided to split the Venice food up into two posts....too much for one!)

Day 1: We arrived in Venice around 8pm. We wandered around, checked into our hotel, changed clothes, and went out to find something to eat! We found ourselves at the Grand Canal, by the Scalzi Bridge. There were several restaurants in the area, and they all looked really good! We decided to pay a little more and eat at one of the restaurants on the Grand Canal. We ended up choosing Trattoria Povoledo. I was in the mood for pasta, so I ordered the spahgetti ai frutti di mare....and it was sooooo good. It tasted super fresh, and was just amazing. Ryan ordered the proscuitto pizza, which was also super yummy! Of course we ordered a bottle of wine, as well!

Ryan's proscuitto pizza =)

My super fresh, super yummy seafood pasta!

Our first bottle of Italian wine, just chillin'

The gorgeous Canal view from our table!

Day 2: I woke up early (6am) because I was so excited to be in Europe and couldn't wait to see Venice in the daytime! Our hotel serves breakfast in the room, but we left just as the hotel staff was getting there, so we didn't get to take advantage. We found a random little cafe and had a croissant and peach juice...over priced and not that good (definitely the worst "meal" in Venice, but whatever!). We had plans to go to Burano that day, but we were getting kind of hungry around 11am, and decided to stop and get out first lunch. Ryan got a sandwich with meat and cheese (not sure exactly what) and I got a flat sandwichy thing that they heated up! Mine was really good! It had cheese, veggies and olives, yum!

Our 1st lunch! I didn't take a picture of breakfast...but I'm sure you can imagine a croissant =)
After getting to Burano and exploring a bit, we found a place that served pizza (I was really craving pizza). Since we had already eaten our first lunch, we decided to split mussels with lemon and a pizza ai frutti di mare. The mussels were really really good! The pizza was also really good, but a little different than I expected, but it tasted really yummy! I think if I had to choose, I like Ryan's pizza from the night before better, but honestly, they were both so good! Oh, and we washed down our lunch with a mezzo litro (500 mL) of prosecco =)

Mussels with good! And if you look closely, you can see the Prosecco in the upper right-hand corner

Seafood pizza!

We had big plans that night. We had planned to go to the Skyline Bar, go on a gondola ride, and eat at a restaurant that had awesome reviews on Trip Advisor. Well...nothing worked out as planned. The Skyline Bar and gondola ride were a no-go, but we still went on a mission to find the restaurant. It was very hidden, and when we finally found it is was around 10pm. Well, I looked at the menu, which was pretty limited, and decided that nothing looked that good. So, we were super lucky and ended up finding a great place to eat. THE FOOD WAS AMAZING! The place was called Osteria Alle Testiere, and they usually only have one sitting, but they were super nice and let us eat, even though it was an hour after they had seated people. (side note: I just looked it up on Trip Advisor so I could link you all, and realized that's it's the #3 ranked restaurant in Venice! We win!)

Ok, so I was really craving pasta, but unfortunately, they had already dumped out the pasta water (since they were not expecting anymore dinner guests). They did, however, have a lot of other dishes that looked delish! So, we started off with a mixed seafood appetizer from the Adriatic Sea, which was seriously, sooooo good. Probably the best seafood we had the whole trip. For dinner, I ordered prawns with corriander, ginger, and lime sauce and Ryan ordered sea bream fillets with fine herbs and citrus sauce. And of course we ordered a white wine =)

Our bread sticks, cracker thing and roll! Oh, and we got refills!

Amazing appetizer! Octopus in the middle, and then starting at 6 o'clock and going clockwise: lobster, cuttlefish, shrimp, spider crab, anchovies, baby calamari, and a little crostini (?) with a mousse-like substance made from cod, milk, vegetable oil, garlic, and herbs. My mouth is watering....

Ryan and his dish!

My wonderful prawns that came with polenta! It was delicious!

So, there you have it! The food we ate the first two days in Venice (well most of it....). Yum! I can't wait to post about the rest =) I hope none of you are sick of hearing about slash looking at good food!

Friday, October 2, 2009

I'm Back!!!!

We got back from our wonderful European vacation about two and a half weeks ago. I had tons of fun at each place, and can't wait to start blogging about some of the details! I honestly don't even know where to begin because everything was so amazing! Oh, and if you're hoping for a proposal story, it won't happen here! I've started a wedding blog!!!! Ok, so here are a couple of pictures from each place we visited. Enjoy!

We had so much fun just walking around and getting lost in Venice. We found tons of beautiful little canals and squares! And of course, we had AMAZING food, but I'll get to that in a later post! The first picture below is of me above one of the many small canals that run through the city. The second picture is me on the Rialto Bridge, over the Grand Canal.

Cinque Terre:
We first saw the beautiful view of Cinque Terre from the train! One second we were in a dark tunnel, and then all of a sudden we had a view of the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea! The views, food, and atmosphere of Cinque Terre were all seriously awesome! The first picure is me with a view of Manarola (the second of the five towns). The second picture is at sunset at a bar we went to a few times....


Like Cinque Terre, the water was sooo clear and so pretty! The fist picture shows the gorgeous water, and you can see Ryan in the background! I also loved walking around the pedestrian areas. And it all seemed so very French! The second picture shows an area right by our hotel.


It was very exciting when we came out of the metro stop and got our first glimpse of Paris! The first picture shows me right inside the entrance of the Louvre! My favorite thing about Paris was...the Eiffel Tower!! I loved it! I loved it during the day and at night! We could almost see it from our apartment, but not quite. The second picture is us right in front of it!