EuroAdventure Day 24: Lido and leaving Venice

(posted by Emily)

Saturday 19 July
Daily Step Count: 29,572

On Saturday morning, we woke up to another great breakfast from our hotel. Having the benefit of a free meal to start the day was totally worth it to us. We checked out of our room, but had the hotel hold our backpacks so we could pick them up later, closer to our departure.

We decided to head back over to San Marco Square to see what the line for the basilica looked like. The streets were packed, with lots of tour groups from the cruise ships in town for the weekend. 

The line to get in to the church was still pretty long, so we opted to get on the vaporetto and head over to Lido

Lido is another one of Venice's islands, very long and narrow. It has swimmable beaches, so the locals tend to go there on the weekend to escape. The boat trip over was easy enough, though crowded.  

When we got to Lido, I was feeling a bit nauseous from the boat ride. Strange, because I usually don't get seasick! I had some change to use up before going back to the UK, so I grabbed a scoop of gelato to serve the dual purpose of using my coins and boosting my blood sugar.

As we were walking over to the public beach, something felt strange to me about the surroundings...and then I realized--there are cars on Lido! I knew there would be, as this was the island we stayed on with our choir trip in 2004 and had big tour buses. It was amazing to see how used to the lack of cars we had gotten, after only a few days.

The public beach is a part of complex that includes a snack bar, umbrella rental, and showers. It was packed, with tons of people laying out and in the water.   

The water was so warm, way warmer than the Pacific and even warmer than Nice. 

We decided to get lunch on Lido before heading back to the main island. We walked around a bit, checking out the cafes and sandwich shops, finding the normal selection of pasta/salad most Italian restaurants had. Rick wasn't really feeling it, so we turned down a smaller street hoping to find a few other options. There was only one cafe that direction, so we decided to see what they offered. This is what their menu board looked like:

E: "Does that say tofu? That says tofu!"
R: "Seitan? They have seitan!" Looking over at the entrance of the restaurant, "It's a vegan/vegetarian place!"

Amazingly, we had stumbled upon the only dedicated vegan/vegetarian restaurant in Venice. It has only been open for 75 days, and clearly, it was fate that we found it. 

After ordering a spritz, we tried to decide what we would eat. Rick was excited to see a pesto pasta on the menu, but I encouraged the waiter to bring us a variety of things they think are the best dishes at the restuarant. Rick was a bit bummed, but his attitude quickly changed when the food arrived.

First up was a duo of black and basmati rice, with veggies (some pickled) and lime. It was flavorful and fresh and reminded us both of a risotto. But this risotto was even better than the one we had in Paris :)

The second dish was some oven roasted veggies and tofu, along with some seitan, Venetian style (I'm not really sure what that means, but it was the special dish they were making for the big Venetian festival and celebration that evening). We usually avoid seitan, which is made from vital wheat gluten, but I'm glad we gave this a try. 

Our next dish was the one I was most wary of when the waiter described it--it was made up of wilted spinach, onions, cabbage, raisins, pine nuts....and beets. Surprisingly, it was fantastic. The beet flavor did not take over, despite the chunks being very large. The flavors were sort of smoky and sweet, really great overall. 

The last main we received was a fried soya patty. It is fashioned after a fried egg dish, and truly had an eggy flavor. A little lemon squeezed on top was the perfect finish. 

It was the first time on the Italian leg of our trip that we did not finish off the entire bread basket! Though, we did finish the bread sticks as a palate cleanser between dishes. 

After a bit of a rest to digest, we caved and ordered some chocolate cake. The inner layer between tiers was an orange marmalade/jam, and the ganache topping was excellent. I think this would be fairly easy to recreate at home. 

Sufficiently stuffed, we headed back to the main island on the vaporetto. It was fun to see all of the traffic on the water.

When we got back to the square, the line for the basilca was much shorter. We got in the line, and encountered another amusing experience of tourists disregarding the dress code and not checking their bags before entering the church.

No pictures allowed inside but I did manage to snap one of the domed ceiling on the way out. The whole ceiling was made of mosaic tiles, which was very impressive. 

We spent some time at our hotel in the afternoon. The seitan from lunch didn't agree with me too well, and we were both feeling a bit sleepy after so much food. We hit the wifi, researching our transportation to Marco Polo airport in Venice, and then how to get to our hotel at Gatwick. 

On our last vaporetto ride to the bus station, we saw so many boats getting ready for the evening's big celebration. Venice celebrates a big festival on the third Saturday in July, which commemorates the end of the plague in 1576. They set off fireworks, and the lagoon is filled with decorated boats. We were pretty bummed to be missing it!

We took a bus to the airport, about 20 minutes away. It was easy enough and the airport wasn't busy at all. 

Once through security, we decided to grab a quick snack before the flight. Rick found some ruffled chips with olive oil, and the little airport shop sold prosecco and Aperol spritzes in bottles--perfect for one more cocktail for the road!

I realized I hadn't shared our packing plan for our two weeks on the continent. When we registered for wedding gifts, we picked out these two backpacks from Osprey. They would work well for camping, but were also perfect to backpack through Europe. They were pretty stuffed by the end of our trip, since we picked up some new clothes and souvenirs, but we had packed light when leaving the UK. We brought layers, and over the course of two weeks, wore everything we brought along with us multiple times. It is definitely time to do some laundry!

Unfortunately, our flight to Gatwick was delayed about an hour and a half. We were both exhausted and a little miserable by this point, but we finally made it back to London.

Luckily, we had a room at the Hilton at Gatwick airport. With the delay, we would have missed the last train to Roydon, and it was nice to get a good night's sleep after a long day!

Gelato Flavor Inventory:
Pistachio (x2)
Dark Chocolate (x4) 
Mixed Berry 

Ready for a realxing day back at the boat!


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