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5 Random Things From A Weekend in Venice

I’ve just got back home after spending the last few days hanging out in Italy.  Here’s what I (and we) were up to!

1) Running around a Castle

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Ok, so I lied.  Not all five random things were in Venice.

See, in actuality we flew to Italy on Wednesday evening, as I had meetings about an hour outside of Venice with an Italian company about their cycling related products.

But, that tidbit will have to wait a bit.

After I was done with meetings, I met back up with The Girl.  She had spent the day stuck in a walled castle.  No, really.  We stayed in a tiny walled village/castle called Cittadella.  And she spent the day walking circles inside it, and even atop it.

But after I got back we headed out for a run around it.  Nothing fancy, just a few loops for a 5K:

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It was beautifully sunny and warm out.

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Can’t complain one bit! Always enjoy running with The Girl!

2) A Gondola Ride

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Yes, it’s cliché.  No, we didn’t care.

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We at least didn’t take 9,328 selfies along the way.  Nor did we employ a selfie stick.  My arm is plenty long enough.  Plus, the gondolier was happy to take a pic at the end.

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But it was enjoyable.  The weather was beautiful.  Warm but not overly hot.  And the gondolier friendly and willing to chat about about his job and how it all works.  I always find it interesting to hear about that kind of stuff.

Plus, he could sing.  Not Bocelli singing levels, but, good enough.  Plus, probably cheaper than a ticket to Bocelli anyway. Then again, maybe not.

3) A lot of walking

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We walked the @#$#@ out of Venice.

We didn’t really have any set plan or super-specific things we wanted to see.  In general, for new cities we just like walking around and exploring.  Sure, we went to Murano Island for example – but then we walked all over creation there.

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I can’t even begin to count the number of times we crossed the various major bridges:

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Many times stopping to take photos of us along the way.

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But mostly we just walked what would probably look like a search and rescue pattern from the air, had I been tracking with GPS.  We were out mid-morning, and pretty much constantly walking till 10-11PM or so, minus a few stops for food.  Speaking of which…

4) Eating our way across the city.

For those uninitiated, Venice is by and large one of the worst possible places you can go in Italy for food.  The ratio of crappy and poorly cooked tourist food, to good food, is like 100:1.  Sifting through it all is at times rather saddening.

While all major tourist-friendly cities have tourist-trap restaurants, I can’t think of a place worse than Venice.

But we made some headway in a few places.  I wouldn’t call any of them over the top amazing, but I’d say that they were functional.

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None were as good as the three different restaurants we ate at near/around Cittadella the first 24 hours, 1hr drive away from Venice.

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But we found some good gelato, especially from this place.  It’s off the beaten path a bit, but the (very) dark chocolate gelato was amazing.  As was their hot chocolate (drink), which required a spoon (proper European hot chocolate).

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We liked that nearby was a little seemingly unknown corner to sit and watch the gondolas go by:

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We may or may not have travelled far across town more than once for their goods.

And when the restaurants failed us, we simply went to the local stores and picked up goods there and ate in the apartment or along the canals:

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Mmm…Mortadella.

Oh, and oddly enough, the airport had a mortadella and buffalo mozzarella sandwich.  Seriously?  How brilliant is that.

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Almost as brilliant as the amount of Prosecco I drank.  Which…was a lot.  I forgot how much I enjoy Prosecco.

I know what’s on my lunch list tomorrow: Going to the store to buy Prosecco…Mortadella…and Buffalo Mozzarella.  Combine that with a fresh baguette tradition…and I’m set.  The afternoon YouTube videos I’m recording will be awesome.

5) A Wet Venice Runaround

While I had an alarm set for Saturday morning to get out and run, I decided to hit the snooze button a few times…and then turn it off entirely.  All of which had me repeating the operation on Sunday morning.  Unfortunately the weather was hardly the same as sunny Saturday.  Instead it was cold, windy, and rainy.  Shoulda run Saturday.

No worries though, it was just a 40 minute run.  More of an exploratory thing than anything.  So I headed out and cruised along the outer Giudecca Canal, which was void of people.  Well, minus only these two dressed in full on head to toe raingear:

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From there I looped back into the Grand Canal where the swells calmed down a bit and the rain actually started to taper a bit.

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After that it was over the bridge near Academia and into the narrow and winding streets of Venice.  This would slow me down a bit, mostly just because of the occasional slow-moving tourist I’d have to wait on.  Plus, you can only make some of these turns so fast.

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Soon I found myself back out along the major waterways, passing by Piazza San Marco.

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I should point out that while Venice is obviously pancake flat, there are numerous stairs that cross the canals.  Near constantly in fact.

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Some of them did have ramps on them, but that was usually clogged with slow-moving people.  So they were rarely an option.

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Thankfully though the weather still sucked enough to get most tourists in bed a bit longer.  Which then gave me wide open paths along the park and water:

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I actually enjoy rainy runs sometimes, as they feel quieter.  For example this desolate street area I found far away from where the crowds would wander:

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Compare that to being back in Piazza San Marco (which this time of year is hardly busy by comparison):

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From there it was a quick zigzag back across town and back over the river to our rental near the Academia.  Here’s me after finishing up:

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Glad to see both the Vivoactive HR & the FR920XT seemed to agree:

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More on the Vivoactive HR over the coming weeks.

Following the run we had a few hours to kill before catching a boat (or two) to the airport and then the short 70 minute flight back home to Paris.  Glad to be home for the week!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week ahead!

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32 Comments

  1. rgurney

    Is The Girl blessed with child? If so, congratulations…

    • Ian Pullinger

      Yes, Ray announced the exciting news a while back … read more on his post -https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/02/dcr-expansion.html

    • Indeed. We’re excited! And The Girl has been rocking it the whole time running. Good stuff!

    • Nigel P.

      And she looks great, it obviously suits her!

    • Sean

      My wife and I are the same ages as you guys and we just had our first, he’s one month old this week! Everyone said how tough it was but it doesn’t really bother me because the little guy is so darn cute. Tri training is suffering and the interactions I have with my wife are more economical, rather than shooting the breeze we’re checking stuff off the to-do lists. So my advice isn’t about how tough it is or about the lack of sleep but to enjoy how you and the girl spend your time together before your baby arrives.

    • Richard

      Fantastic news for you two!

      Also Venice looks great, need to go there!

  2. giovanni

    For the Gondola trip, I know it’s touristic and everything else, but a friend of mine offered a tour of Venice in gondola as a birthday present for my wife, and while going around, the gondolier taught us that when Venice was one of the most important cities in the world, everybody who was rich moved on a gondola, and so most of the palaces have beautiful facades on the canali, while on the back, on the calli (the roads of venice) there were the entrances just for the servants and people of the lower classes… So once in a lifetime, I think it’s worth it.

  3. John

    I wonder what is Favero up to…

    And also, why I’d the girl wearing two watches?

    :-D

    • Paul S.

      For the baby, of course. No reason the baby shouldn’t get credit for the km. I’ll bet he/she even has his/her own Strava account already :-) (What does a baby triathlon look like, anyway? Eat, poop, crawl? Ah, well, about a year before they have to worry about that.)

    • We’re still unclear on when it’s too soon to put the baby on a bike. But once that happens, there shall be a Strava account!

    • Tosin

      You think you’ll go bike seat or trailer? I have a bike seat, but when my #2 shows up, I might get one of those trailers that also doubles as a running stroller.

    • Hard to say. In Paris a trailer isn’t practical. And bike seat is pretty common here.

    • Paul S.

      You’re in the fortunate position that both sets of grandparents are across an ocean, so they can’t really see what you’re doing to their grandchild :-). With my in-laws in the same town, we never dared putting their granddaughter in a bike seat.

    • Mirko

      Favero? Nah, I’d say Elite, trust me…

    • Artur

      Highly recommend! The chariot line up (now by Thule) is awesome. It’s sturdy to go as fast as you want, and get a decent workout out of it, with the baby at the back.

    • pieter n.

      I live in the city of Ghent, and wouldn’t recommend bike trailers for cities. I use a 2-wheel cargobike ( mine’s a bakfiets.nl model – dutch made), and I can get around like a normal bike. There’s other brands too, riese and muller have a quite sporty en costly one (danish bike). Better than a bike seat!

  4. Kermit262

    Love reading about your travels Ray. Venice looks beautiful.

  5. don wogaman

    Lived in Naples/Napoli for 3 years mid 90’s, and still get back occasionally. Nothing teaches you how to hang on to the peloton like the risk of getting dropped in the Italian countryside, with no clue as to how to get back. We would frequently ride through farms where the Mozzarella di Bufala was produced- and in the local Neapolitan Restaurants could enjoy it fresh… Don’t seem to have the restaurant quality issues down there…

    • We had wanted to get to that area and go visit some farms at other points this past few months. But we’re going to defer that to the fall, hopefully October is good then!

  6. matt

    wish I would have known I could have emailed you some great restaurants. The key, we’ve found, is to never eat on the Grand Canal. The more hidden the restaurant, the better it usually is. We’ve had some unforgettable meals in Venice, including (ironically) the best pasta bolognese ever!

    • Chris

      I have to agree with Matt–the more hidden the restaurant the better. The worst meal I’ve ever had in Italy was at a tourist spot on the Grand Canal. My wife and I couldn’t finish the meal. Going out to the little towns not on the normal tourist beat also provides some good meals and sights not usually seen.

      Cittadella is a wonderful little town and one that my family enjoys going to and just wandering around for the day. We love to eat at the Ristorante – Pizzeria al Cappello there.

  7. Dustin

    In March my wife and I took a trip to North Italy with stops at the Cinque Terre before arriving in Venice. A local gentleman who is an avid runner told me about early morning runs through the walking paths of Venice leading to the Piazza San Marco, then heading to the park adjacent to Sant’ Elena. A remarkable experience running past the Doge’s Palace completely free of tourists at 6:00 in the morning and the few other runners hailing a warm “Ciao!” BTW, if you have not ventured to the Cinque Terre, definitely add it to the bucket list.

  8. merlinbk

    What was on the right wrist? the 630?

  9. Alasdair Gardner

    Great pictures, when the sun is out you really bring out the colours of the city,

    You both look well

    Love the alfresco dining on the street corner.

    I like your priorities, one hour meeting 5 day stay

    all the best

  10. Marco

    Italian company one hour outside of Venice uh? I can think of one that starts with a C and ends in “ampagnolo” that would fit the description… if that’s the case I am getting pretty excited

  11. Alice

    Gorgeous Venice! One has to put up with the tourist traps, because it’s such a tiny place and absolutely everyone on the planet wants to see it, so no wonder… Totally worth it, I think. Thanks once again for sharing, Ray!

  12. Tom

    Hey. Enjoy your work very much. I was wondering what your early thoughts on the vivoactive hr are. Can’t wait for the full review, just after a little insight.

    • So far, mostly good. A few quirks on HR while cycling in rougher conditions, but during steady-state it’s good. Running also seemingly good (haven’t fully dug into the most recent run or ride files yet, just glancing at it during the activity). No issues swimming.

      Seeing some minor quirks with step counting and false-positives. But we’ll see how that shakes out. Battery seems good, probably about 5-7 days with GPS every day for an hour (average).

  13. You have done a part of the original Venice Marathon route on Sunday.
    One of my most loved marathons (after completing 79).
    Here are some pictures: link to marathon4you.de

  14. Alessandro

    I agree about tourist-trap restaurants in Venice, there are some good places to eat, but you have to know them, cause they’re hidden most of times. Anyway the best way to enjoy Venice it’s a “bacaro tour” that means walking around stopping in 3-4 “bacaro” (Venetian Bar) to drink a glass of wine and eat a few “cicchetti” (small tastes of venetian food, something like tapas for spanish).