Travel day. Chicago to Madrid 7.5hrs + 5 hr layover + 2 hrs to Venice = running on fumes!!
Our hotel is a cute boutique (its actually a Best Western brand lol) hotel and very European, meaning SMALL! However its clean, great location, free wifi, semi comfy twin bed and free breakfast daily. After being in the same clothes for over 24hrs, I was happy to unpack, hug the shower and freshen up for dinner.
At dinner we met our tour guide Francesca for our 9 day Enchanting Italy trip. She's from Rome and has been super helpful! She gives us all the do's and don'ts of Italy. She's working hard to earn her tip:-) ..which in Italy is "a matter of personal discretion". $6/day for tour guides and $3/day for drivers. Estimated total for our trip: $57 USD.
Later in the evening we ventured out on the island and found a nice Gelato spot (yummy!), a cheap spot to try tomorrow for lunch and managed to get lost lol. Venice is very safe so we didnt feel too scared and we thankfully found our way back home:)
Two "thrifty takeaways" from today:
"Coperto" -- Restaurant sit down fee. Because Italians socialize while eating and can apparently sit at a table 3+ hrs to eat a dish of pasta, restaurants must charge a sit down fee. Usually between 1.50-3.00 euro depending on the restaurant. We plan to avoid that by getting our food "to go" and finding pizza stands/sandwich shops for quick bites for lunch. Our breakfast and most dinners are covered with our tour group. Tipping is 10% at restaurants..15% if they give great service! It's also possible to be charged a separate 10%- 12% "servico charge" that does not cover gratuity. So before you sit down at a restaurant in Italy read the "fine print". Noted:)
Vino -- Italy is all about WINE! Wine is like water here! Generally one glass of vino de tavalo (house table wine) is included in your meal. (yay!). I opted for White tonight, table wine in Italy is like "good wine" in the States so you can't go wrong.
Francesca gave us the scoop on buying wine to take home. You are allowed 3 bottles in your checked luggage to take home. Anything above that its best to have them shipped by FedEx since most wineries charge a ridiculous amount to ship. There's a FedEx by our hotel in Rome (last stop), so perfect!
Day 3 in Venice will be museum and church tours, shopping and an evening gondola ride.
Pics soon to come!
Blog ya later...CIAO!!!