December in Venice (with kids)

This weekend we went to Venice.  I feel so privileged saying that.  After much hemming and hawing, about expense and shlepping the kids and spending our precious pennies at this time, we went for it.  Travel is one of the reasons we want to spend time here in Italy.  We can do things like go to Venice for the weekend!  Clay and I had previously visited Venice pre-children as well as one time before Isabelle was one-year old, and I was well prepared that our preference for spending hours strolling and meandering would be trumped by the need for lots of breaks, a playground expedition, carefully calculated snack stops and creative bribes to lure our children out of the hotel room and into the streets.  Somehow, even though both of their parents love exploring and wandering, our children both prefer to set up house and hole up at "home,"  even if that home is a temporary hotel room.  Just convincing the kids that it is a good idea to leave home for the weekend is a challenge.  "I don't want to go somewhere with boats!"  "I don't want to leave our kittens!"  Forget trying to explain that we are visiting a place most people on dream of traveling to.  

We opted for a good hotel that we found for a last minute discount instead of renting an apartment via Air B and B.  We stayed at the Hotel Sant'Elena near the Sant Elena boat stop. We hadn't realized that it was so far from the train and parking - an hour boat ride down the grand canal. However, we did discover, it is an ideal area to stay in summer with kids.  Away from the crowds, lots of grassy park and playground space (for Venice) and a lovely escape from the crowds.  Unfortunately, it started pouring rain the first night, when we opted to walk towards San Marco Square.  The kids were less than thrilled to be shlepping around on a rainy dark night, looking for pizza.  But the next day, it was clear.  We took the boat to Piazza San Marco which was flooded with water.  Elevated walkways had been constructed throughout the flooded area and Azalia had a great time walking high above the ground.  Isabelle was dying to buy a pair of colorful plastic "boots" (garbage bags made to cover your feet) so that she could walk right through the water.  Having only been to Venice previously in the hot summer, it was a pleasure to see the famous flooding.  Although, I don't know how the cafes and restaturants manage.  Staff wearing plastic rainboots attempting to mop up 6 inches of water flooding cafes at street level.

We spent the day wandering from Piazza San Marco to the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto), motivating the kids to keep walking with the promise of a souvenir purchase at the end.  Azalia was fixated on finding a "Frozen" doll she had seen as her souvenir, as Isabelle tried to explain that a souvenir means something specific from the place you are visiting.  Since Isabelle leans more towards high fashion and Azalia towards Disney (of course we stopped in at the Disney at Sestiere di San Marco, 5257, 30124, Venezia, to browse) the souvenir promise lost weight quickly.

We did manage to see an exhibit of Vivaldi, featuring ancient string instruments, eat pizza in an ancient piazza, ride the boats along the Canal (after one child protesting heavily that she was too scared, followed by the other one getting seasick.  Who gets seasick on a canal?)  By the end of the weekend, the fog had cleared and we saw the first rays of sunshine in weeks.