Venice - canals and gondolas

Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
Trip End May 31, 2008

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Flag of Italy  , Veneto,
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Our next destination was the beautiful city of Venice, though on our way we made a short stopover at Verona, the city which claims to be the origin of the story of Romeo and Juliet. Many come to Verona to visit 'Juliet's balcony'. The house which contains the balcony was built in the 13th century and is apparently owned by the Del Capo family, but don't be fooled; the balcony was added in 1930. There's a bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard and supposedly if you rub her right breast you get good luck. The tunnel leading from the street to the courtyard is covered with graffiti and love notes stuck on the wall with chewing gum... it's just a tourist trap. Though the city also contains a number of original Roman buildings including a Colosseum style arena and the 'Ponte di Pietra', an interesting stone wall bridge plus many original medieval buildings.

That night our group had a Roman toga party which turned out to be an absolute screamer of a night. The barman at the campsite does this drink called a 'Mick's Special' which is basically a milkshake cup full of alcohol and contained unmeasured shots of vodka, tequila, and other poisons with a Bacardi Breezer to top it off. This beverage was the instant gateway to inebriation.

Venice is made up of 117 islands, 150 canals and 400 bridges. The city lies on what was once a marshy lagoon four km from the coast in the Adriatic Sea. When you look at a map of Venice you'll see that the islands and the city are in the shape of a fish. This is quite an amazing place; it's a city with no roads but canals which provide access and transport throughout the city.

St Mark's Square is the city's central meeting place and it's here that you'll find the sacred inhabitants of Venice; pigeons. Venice was discovered in the 9th century when fisherman noticed pigeons flying out to sea and as pigeons are not sea birds the fishermen decided to follow them with the prospect of finding new lands. Venice soon became the gateway to the east and a major trading port. The city grew in wealth and this is evident from its beautiful architecture and buildings. It's now a major tourist destination and is renowned for its glass, masks and lace. You can buy food for the pigeons for €1 which I am told contains contraceptives to help control their numbers.

We began our day with a short walking tour with a local guide followed by a gondola ride; it's relaxing and a great way of seeing the city. I spent the rest of the day exploring the streets and laneways of Venice before returning by ferry to Piazza Roma; the departure point of the buses back to the mainland. The following day we left Italy and headed on to Tyrol, Austria for a short stopover.
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