Mama mia, Italia!
Trip Start Nov 15, 2004
70Trip End Nov 10, 2005
We perhaps a little stupidly didn't have any accommodation arranged in Venice as we were arriving early and we thought as it was later in the season it wouldn't be too difficult (we later learnt Venice gets over 15 million visitors every year and you are advised to always book...). An hour later and using the last 20 cents of our new phonecard we eventually found a room - the most expensive room of our travels and still only 1 star! - and as the phone cut out before we could confirm a reservation we grabbed our bags and raced to the hotel. Settled in we explored the city, first by ferry along the Grand Canal, the main canal through Venice lined with impressive buildings and former palaces, many showing signs of water damage and disrepair and then by foot, exploring the many little alleys and squares
Our first two days in Italy were also spent enjoying Italian cuisine... pizza, pasta, pizza, pasta... all washed down with delicious (and cheap) vino. We also had afternoon coffee breaks but had to make do with standing at the bar to drink them as they cost double to sit! Call us cheap but two dollars more to sit pushes the budget! We also discovered an Italian system called 'coverto' where they charge you an extra two + dollars to sit at a restaurant - why else do you eat at a restaurant?! Pizza and a bottle of wine at the hotel was good enough! We also tried an afternoon spritza, a wine, bitters and soda water drink that is a nice pinky/red colour and drunk (at 4:30pm) by all the fashionable people in Venice :-) Not really to our taste buds it is probably a drink that grows on you.
We only visited one museum - an impressive collection of modern art amassed by an eccentric Peggy Guggenheim and displayed in her former home by the canal. A Jackson Pollock exhibition was also on which was interesting to see (lots of paint splatting really). Venice holds the annual Carnivale Festival so there are loads of great masks for sale and we also stumbled across the shop that created the masks for Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut' film. The amazingly ornate Saint Mark's Church was unfortunately spoilt by the mass of pigeons crowding the square who are surprisingly encouraged by pigeon food sellers (and the tourists that buy the food) given the beauty and age of the buildings.
Venice is expensive so it was probably a good thing we could only get two nights at our hotel, still, it was a great city to wander and we utilised our short time well.