Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
301Trip End Ongoing
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Venice has reaped great financial reward through tourism
"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
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.
VENETIAN PRICES IN CANADIAN DOLLARS:
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.