Venezia...Stockholm of the South?

Trip Start Aug 02, 2010
Trip End Dec 22, 2010

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Where I stayed
Camping Della Serenissima

Flag of Italy  , Veneto,
Monday, October 18, 2010

Ok, well, everything they say about Venice is true, the masses of tourists, the pigeons, hundreds and hundreds of venetian shops selling 'authentic' Venetian masks/Murano glass/marbled paper, the ridiculous prices on just about EVERYTHING and the crazy twisting winding streets that are confusing as hell.  But of course that's Venice =).  And of course, all the amazing things they say about Venice is also true...the wonderful canals and colourful houses interspersed with canal side palaces, fabulous churches and a surprise at every corner.

So day,, check...water, check...and off I went, my first city on my lonesome =P.  It really was a different experience, no-one to talk to, or complain to, or take photos with...ngor...on the up side, there was no-one to complain about my almost 9 hours of walking on 3 hours sleep. Mmmmhmmm, that was just day one XD.  So I jumped straight into things and I was so excited with my new camera =D!!  All the photos looked so amazing!  Especially on the lovely high res screen =P...and the thing with Venice is that you can't take a bad photo.  Seriously, you point and press the shutter button and you're bound to capture something amazing.  Be it some Byzantine church, a square filled with school kids playing or a gondolier passing by a small canal, it's a wonderful place to feel good about your photography skills haha. 

My main agenda for my first day was visiting as many churches as possible since I had bought a Chorus card (free entry to many of Venice's churches).  So there was a lot of map consulting then discovering the first of Venice's infamous traits...horrible street signs and getting completely and utterly lost.  On the plus side I got to see a side of Venice which (I think) isn't seen by many tourists =P.  For one, I saw school kids!!  Italian school kids in Venice!...true, they could just be visiting from another Italian city haha, but in my mind, I saw Venetian school kids meaning that this town isn't COMPLETELY the tourist town that I thought it was.  That being said though, much of Venice seems devoid of life, well, local life anyway.  There were tourists everywhere but locals?  It's a little sad seeing so many of the houses boarded up =(.  Still, boarded up or not, these houses are 300+ years old!  And the whole city makes for an amazing experience.  You could not find a better city to be lost in =D.

What churches I did end up finding where fascinating (7 out of a possible 17), all with such different styles...Byzantine, Baroque, Renaissance or whatever...each had their own little character.  That being said, when I look back at the photos, I have no idea which ones they are and I just left this morning! XD.  Eventually my wanderings led me to where all tourists go, the Rialto bridge which was very cool...but crowded...oh so crowded.  Of course that then led me to Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) and it was...a little underwhelming and here's why.  First, a quarter of the buildings were under it doesn't seem much and they could've even gotten away with it but people in Venice are REALLY BAD at covering up any construction work.  Any construction work for that matter, you may spot them in the pics, they're just scaffolding with a mesh covering...or =S.  So when a quarter of the square is covered up in ads, it's not so photogenic anymore.  The area in front of the bell tower and San Marco's Basilica was also under heavy construction so half the roof was covered AND to make it worse, the bridge of sighs, the famous Venetian landmark was surrounded by these hideous blue billboards.  The throngs of tourists didn't make things any better and there were queues everywhere.  And of course it had to start raining, and it never really stopped for the rest of the weekend >.< 

Still, I guess even all these faults, it couldn't take away the fact that San Marco and Venice is a wonderful city and the thing that I love about it is the fact that it's always ready to surprise you.  Sure San Marco's was crowded and gloomy but the pigeons where out in force and the tourists (including me) loved it and nothing can take away the fact that this amazing square was once the centre of the Venetian Republic and the long queue at the Basilica was worth it just to see the amazing gold mosaics that covered literally the WHOLE church.  And of course around every corner is always a picturesque canal or gondolier singing or a church or a photography exhibit (Stanley Kubrick and yes I did go in =) or even a concert of Vivaldi's Four Seasons!!!  Yes, I saw an Italian string group play the Four Seasons in Venice's San Vidal =D  So not bad for my first day eh?

Day Two....hahaha my goodness, there's more to write than I thought.  Took a cruise down the Grand Canal on the Vaporetti No.1 (canal buses) and despite the high price, it was definitely one of the highlights.  Being on the grand canal is really an experience and it's a completely different feeling to wandering the streets.  You can really tell that the Venetians wanted to impress the people canal side and the number of 'palaces' are fantastic, each with their own style.  Of course there's the gondoliers and the numerous water taxis and boats buzzing around, there was even a police speed boat patrolling the waters =P.  So if you're cheap like me and don't want to pay 80€ for a gondola ride, take the Vaporetti at least =)  it really is a cool experience going down the canal. 

Checked out the Doge's Palace and the surrounding museums in San Marco.  The Venetians really had a lot of power back in its heyday back in the 13th century and the opulence of the place says it all.  Too bad Christopher Columbus found the Americas =P.  Followed up with some modern art at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum...I didn't get a lot of it but it was cool to have a look.  There was also a wonderful break in the weather at this point (trust me to be in a museum when this happens) and luckily, there's a veranda out to the grand canal so I run out and take 3 photos with proper sun in Venice...ahh, how different it looked for those few minutes.  Eventually, my wandering led me to viewing the sunset over Venice near the Santa Maria del Rosario church.  Ahh, at the cafe with my Spritz and Zuppa Rustica looking over all the days photos, was a good feeling =)

And that's camera (the good one) died on me at this point and I had to go back to my little point and shoot.  It felt so small =P but it did still take some nice pictures, in fact, the last 4 were taken by it so it fares alright (of course I didn't upload the other blurry 20 photos =P).  Woke up at 5:45 today for another wonderful Ryanair experience....oh my goodness, how will I study for exams!! =O  And I've got Berlin next weekend...looking forward but man do I need some sleep haha.

PS: I've just discovered I might've gotten bed bugs!!! ARRRGHH!!  And just when I though the place I stayed at was alright.  It was cold and I could hear the guy in the other room snoring through the paper walls XD but the room seemed clean, was cheap and I could get to Venice on just one bus so I was going to recommend it...but if this gave me bed bugs!!  =S  And I used my blanket too >.<  Let's hope I don't any more bites eh?

PPS: Title courtesy of Janis =P
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