Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Italy  ,
Friday, October 28, 2005

Venice is a city of cutstone streets and alleys. A major canal dissects the city and numerous smaller ones run off it. Little and big foot bridges, hundreds, perhaps a thousand, span the canals. There are no automobiles in Venice. I could perch myself just about any place in this wondrous city and spend the whole day just looking at the architecture. Statues, frescoes and magnificent churches - then a gondola floats by. Everywhere you look there is something new or old, almost always different. Some of the streets are so narrow that you'd have a difficult time getting a donkey through them. There are of course no donkeys in Venice. It's far too prosperous a city for the Venetians to keep burros. It's so ancient and storied though that there should be at least some donkeys, pigs and chickens just for atmosphere.

Venice has reaped great financial reward through tourism. English is spoken everywhere. We bumped into an unhappy couple from Miami, Florida, who had the misfortune of somehow landing in Venice.

"The food is horrible - nothing but pizza and croissants," cried the displeased Floridian.
"What about the pasta? It's fabulous," Ellen said.
"I can't eat spaghetti every day. And the shower stall at our hotel is too small. And the..."

As I leaned back in my chair, the southern man's voice became a soft whirr. I dreamt about our trip through the Balkans and the beautiful white-noise of hearing only languages I could not understand. In Venice, it's impossible to keep familiar noises out of your head. The English sounds surround you.

Ellen shook me from my fugue, as the Floridian continued his rant.

"Why did you do that?" I said. "This arse-hole is in one of the most beautiful cities in the world; he's completely surrounded by Italian restaurants and he's unhappy. I'm so sad for him. Did you tell him there's a McDonald's just down the street?"

Venice held some surprises for me. The Venetians are a happy, friendly people. I've watched tourists walk up to locals - sometimes men carrying heavy loads - to ask directions. The locals are always polite and courteous. And all the bad press Venice gets about the smell of the canal - that's a hoax too. The only bad smell to hit my nose was early yesterday morning. We passed through a narrow alley where a group of dogs, or perhaps humans, had had a pee-a-thon sometime during the night.


In 1988, while backpacking solo through South-East Asia, Ellen met and traveled a whole four days with Renate from Germany. They've been the best of friends ever since. Whenever Ellen and I travel to Europe, Renate joins us for a few days. She's with us now as we walk through these historic streets. It makes me feel good to watch them.


Gondolas - $120 per half hour
Coffee at San Marco Square - $12
Budget hotel - $150
Fixed price dinner - $30 (drinks not included, often times dessert isn't either)
Public toilets - $1.50 (compared to one thin dime in Slovakia)

That being said: No matter what the cost, I am profoundly happy that Ellen talked me into visiting Venice. I'll never forget it.
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