As I stated in my last post, Venice easily and quickly earned it’s place at the top of my “favourite cities” list. I loved it there, and I will definitely be returning as soon as I can afford it again, for as lengthy a stay as I can get away with.
Now, our stay in Venice was not without its stresses. I stress out far too easily (The phrase “take a chill pill” and all its derivatives make me want to wallop whomever delivered it. Over the head. With something heavy. And then scream for a bit…) and the rather unsuccessful beginning to this stay was not conducive to a stress-free environment. Still, I can now (in hindsight) chalk it up to experience and admit that maybe I overreacted at the time.
The kind couple handing over their half-used ticket was a nice beginning, I’ll admit, but came after fifteen or so minutes standing in the wrong line before giving up, realising how stupid we were because the line we were meant to be in was so painfully obvious that only a total fool could have missed it. It then took us a while to realise what this couple was actually giving us, and then a few more after that to switch out of the tickets line and into the line for actually getting on the boat…
The boat trip itself was fine. We sat out the back and I didn’t get sick (huzzah!). We got off at the stop as instructed on the directions provided by the hostel and then… lost. Not so lost that we had no idea whatsoever where we were, but we didn’t have a map and the directions were in garbled English mentioning street names that had no signs and “go left”s when they meant “straight on”. Frustrating and lead to several wrong turns and a few aggravated groans. I’m so lucky my boyfriend puts up with that from me for the most part (although he gives as good as he gets) because I was incredibly close to snapping by the time we finally found the place. I guess my injured knee and overall level of un-fitness (is that even a word? Well, I guess it is now…) didn’t help this. All the up-ing and down-ing over bridges wasn’t exactly helping…
And then we finally got there. It wasn’t a very obvious hostel, I’ll admit. And the inside wasn’t much like a hostel either. Hardly even a hotel, more a homestay. We got there, gave our names, and the receptionist/owner’s face fell. “Oh dear, guys, there’s been a mistake.” Never good words to hear. “The room has been booked for tomorrow, you’re early.” My boyfriend maintains that this is all my fault. I maintain that as he paid with his card, it was his responsibility to check the details and therefore not all blame can be put on me, but that’s beside the point. My heart dropped completely. We had two hostels in two different cities booked for the next night, but none for that night.
I guess luck was on our side for some reason or other, because the outcome of this potential disaster was that we stayed an extra night in Venice (our room was free, huzzah!) and got free towels from the guy at the desk because he felt so bad for us (not exactly a huge deal, but a nice gesture). Overall, we should have planned two nights from the beginning. It wouldn’t have been enough time (and we still didn’t get to see Michaelangelo’s David…) and we’d have rushed through everything.
The city is beautiful. The people are lovely. In St Mark’s square there were two bands alternating playing sets, and a few couples got up from there over-priced meals to dance, spurring much applause from onlookers who couldn’t afford to eat at such a location. The next morning we went to Murano, the glass-making island, and saw a large amount of truly beautiful hand-blown glass… in amongst a lot of cheap crap imported from China. Still, the stuff was very beautiful. I spent nearly two hours browsing mask shops that afternoon, we had “the best ice-cream in Venice” (as recommended by the hostel) and some of the best take-away pizza ever as well.
Our second morning we got up early to watch the sunrise in St Mark’s square. The sunrise itself wasn’t anything special (it clouded over during the night and was drizzling slightly) but simply seeing the square nearly empty made up for that. After some careful persuasion (and a bit of early xmas cash wired through paypal) from my aunt, I took the plunge and purchased my very own Venetian mask. I swear, it’s probably the most beautiful thing I own. I definitely need to make a gown or something to match, even if I’ll never have anywhere to wear it. The mask itself is currently wrapped up in Cambridge, ready to be my carry-on luggage on the way home. I’m so pleased I did it, though, and didn’t talk myself out of it. Anyone else have that problem? Sometimes I think I can be too frugal.
The Rialto bridge is magnificent. I was thoroughly impressed by the sheer number of people on or around it (although not quite as packed as the Trevi Fountain or Spanish Steps in Rome, still an impressive number of people, even though it’s not quite evident in the photo below). Michaelangelo’s David will have to wait until next time as we simply didn’t make it. We had to get back to the hostel to check out and get back to the train station to get to Milan. At the station, I was compelled to pass on our half-used water bus ticket, as had been done for us. We found a couple of girls on the station steps, looking a little lost to give it to (we got one ticket for two people). I have no idea if they used it, but they were the only ones who fit the bill–that is, people who looked like they needed it. Everyone in line was older and fairly obviously wealthy. We wanted this gift to go to someone who could appreciate it like we did. I hope they continued the cycle. Ever felt the need to pay it forward? It’s a great feeling, I must admit.
Venice is still a highlight, even now a month or so on (I know, I’m so slack) having visited Switzerland, Paris, the UK, North Germany and now Amsterdam (more on those later) with still further to go, and I will definitely be going back, and recommending it to anyone who will sit still long enough.
A bit exhausted, but still excited,
Until next time,