Travel Page: Padua and Venice

At last! The final leg of my European vacation this summer—three days in Padua and Venice, Italy. When Matt and I finally made it to Padua, we let out a small sigh of relief. We had trekked rom Sweden to our destination, and now we could truly kick back and relax. And since Matt had lived in Padua before, he was in his element playing tour guide here…

We stayed at Hotel Beludi, a cozy and luxurious spot, located just a stone’s throw from both Prato della Valle and La Basilica di Sant’Antonio. We dropped our bags upon arrival, and began to walk around the picturesque town. In some ways, it felt like one large college campus—especially the Proto della Valle, which is basically a large (and vehicle-free) round-about where outdoor festivals take place year-round. (While we were there, there was a huge boxing match and an international roller skating competition that went late into the night.) We borrowed bikes from the hotel and spent hours just meandering around.
My favorite part of Padua was Piazza della Erbe, a large open area with tons of café tables to sit, catch up with friends, and enjoy a spritz (gin, white wine, aperol)—an Italian tradition. It was a little strong for my taste, but when in…Padua. ;) Even though we had pizza in Cinque Terre, this was my moment to enjoy a truly authentic pie. Both nights (because it was that good!) we ate at Pago Pago, where I had the most incredible crispy, thin crust Northern Italian pizza. The second night, we selected from the Neopolitan-style portion of the menu, but I discovered: Northern Italian pizza is my favorite. 
Finally! We were off to Venice. We woke up super early that morning so that we had time to squeeze in a visit to the Padua Botanical Garden before hopping on the train (completely worth it, by the way). The funny part was that we got to the garden right when it opened, but the girl unlocking the door showed up almost an hour late. Oh, Italy. :) We arrived in Venice around noon and made our way over to St. Mark’s Square. I was stunned at the beauty of the city—no matter how many pictures you see, it’s like nothing you can imagine. We meandered down street after street (popping in and out of the shops selling Venetian masks) trying to find the Square.
Oh, and we got gelato several times on the walk. You know, to stay hydrated and keep our blood sugar up. ;)
One note about Venice: As lovely as it was, I was stunned at how crowded. I mean, I’ve been to touristy places, but this was a new level of touristy. After checking out the Basilica at St. Mark’s Square—and Matt pressuring me to feed the pigeons—we decided to take a water taxi back to the train station. It was then that we passed the Guggenheim Museum, located on one of the outer islands, and decided to change our plan and explore. I felt like I stepped off the water taxi into another world—one with empty streets and sunshine and pizza by the slice. ;) The museum was this wonderful oasis with magnificent art and architecture. It was one of those moments where I truly thought: What if we didn’t look up? We were on the taxi, making our way back to Padua—we could of missed this! But we didn’t. :)

So, that’s it! The recap of my travels. Hope you enjoyed the updates!

PS: In case you missed any of the cities, here you go:

- Paris (Part One and Part Two)

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