Lost in Venice
After a night in Bologne (where we couldn't find anywhere still open for us to eat when we got there, and I got completely duped by a whopping 3.50 euros for a box of tissues for my cold that I paid because I needed them so bad) we left for Venice early the next morning.
Our hostel in Venice was in a pretty good spot, about a 10 minute walk to St Marks, but was a bit of a mission to get there, through a maze of tiny streets and plazzas, but we had a nice quiet room, overlooking a tiny Venetian street, and it was so good to go out and start exploring!
I loved Venice (I feel like I'm saying that about everywhere in Italy, but Venice is in a league of its own). The whole place has a kind of grand old lady feel to it, immense and beautiful, but kind of faded and tired and a little sad. The light is kinda misty and hazy too, so very romantic.
Despite arriving at almost midday, Sheena and I picked up the pace and managed to fit in St Marks Square that afternoon, both the church, with its huge glittering mosaics and topsy turvy floor (it's completely uneven, from centuries of the foundations sinking at different rates into the canal) and the Ducal Palace, which was almost overwhelming in its ostentatiousness; heavy dark rooms, with heavy gold ceilings, exactly what I'd always expected of Venice :-)
That night, tired and hungry, we had our worst experience in terms of service in Italy; after going to one restaurant and being told that of course we couldn't get a table because we hadn't booked, we asked if they copuld recommend another good restaurant around, and were refered to another restaurant up the road. This place though, as soon as we spoke English, the guy frostily told us there were no tables free inside, (even though there seemed to be heaps) and we'd have to sit outside (it was freezing), and that there was only cheese and salami left. It was horrible. We ended up going to a resturant further away again that at least looked busy, but the food was shockingly overpriced and obviously aimed at tourists, with again, very rude service. And the waiter was drunk. Pretty bad.
I've learnt that if you can travel with either someone from the country to show you around, or if you can learn a bit more of the language (I had learnt basics, but not quite enough to understand them back) it would make SUCH a difference.
Anyway, Day 2 we visited a beautiful palace, Ca' Rezzonico that was so elaborate it had made the family bankrupt, and was finished by another family who also had to sell it because it was such high maintenance! It was beautiful though... amazing chandeliers and furniture, a humungus ballroom.... I felt distinctly underdressed :-)
In the afternoon we visited the Academia, where we spent way more time than we'd expected, checking out centuries old incredible paintings.
And then we got lost in the streets of Venice, checking out the seemingly 400 Murano Glass shops, the amazing gelatos, the people and the canals. We ended with a trip on the water ferry (which are incredibly fast and efficient....puts Fullers to shame) up the entire length of the Grand Canal at sunset, craning our necks at every angle to look at all the canal-side palaces. I loved how busy the waterways are... something is always happening! There are the waterbuses, the gondoliers (we never got to go on one, but its something absurd like 100euro for a trip, so unless you have a group its not going to happen), delivery boats, police and ambulance boats, private launches (the Venice version of vespas), and beautiful, highly polished wooden launches that were water taxis, which looked so well kept.
Fascinating stuff. Anyway, I've run out of time, now in London, about to head for Dublin, but will detail Florence soon...
Posted on 19 Apr 2007 by Anna