Venice Travel Blog

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Last weekend we ventured over to Italy and visited Venice. Bless EasyJet for making all this travel possible! We arrived on Friday night, and the airport bus dropped us off at the edge of town. All the tiny winding streets, and many, many canals mean there are no cars in the centre of Venice, which makes it very nice. When we arrived on Friday night it was very quiet, with the only sounds being our footsteps, the lapping of the water in the canals, and distant voices of other people out and about.

We visited in the low season, and while we found a lot of tourists at the major tourist attractions, elsewhere it was very quiet – at times even deserted. It was quite amazing to see that if you veered off the main thoroughfares, you had all these quiet, interesting streets to explore alone, (and to get lost in alone), coming across little trattoria’s here and there, small shops, and clusters of residential areas with washing hung up on clothes lines out their windows.
Every now and then you would stumble across a square, or a church, and you were forever crossing the many small bridges over the canals. The canals were lined with people’s small boats– a practical form of transport to own when you live in a city such as Venice.

On Saturday, it was raining very heavily. In fact, the city looked in danger of flooding. This is a regular occurrence in Venice, and there are permanent platforms stacked in St Mark’s square that can be brought out when needed to form walkways in between the sights. The water was lapping very close to the edge of the canals, and the heavy rain meant there were huge puddles everywhere. Water also comes up through cracks in the pavement, and up through the drains. It didn’t end up going under in the end, but we did get quite wet, sharing an umbrella and walking through the puddles.
The locals take all this in their stride, and simply put on some Wellington boots, and keep on their way.

We visited the Doge’s palace, which is situated right on St Mark’s square. Ho-hum, I thought -another palace. It seems that Europe is full of churches, and palaces, all of which tend to blend into one another after a while. Actually, this one was probably the grandest we’ve visited so far. You tended to get a sore neck from craning to see the ceilings in every room. They were quite impressive and there was not a spare space between all the paintings, sculptures, carvings, and plenty of gold.
The palace is joined to a prison across a canal, which is reached by crossing the Bridge of Sighs. Apparently it is called that because prisoners, when being led to the prison, let out a big sigh as they crossed the bridge.
Sounds like a story made up for the foreigners! The bridge seemed to be a major draw card for tourists, though I don’t see why. When I saw it, I said, “Is that it?”. Cambridge also has a ‘Bridge of Sighs’ that is supposedly modeled after the one in Venice, and to me, is a fair bit more impressive.

St Mark’s Square is the most well known part of Venice. On sunny days, there are cafes with tables spilling out into the square, with music being played.

There are a lot of tourists around the square, and also a lot of pigeons. They’re not bothered by humans, and don’t fly away as you walk near them. If they think you have food, a whole flock of them will land on you. In fact, there are people that sell grain so you can feed them, and worse, encourage them to land on you en masse.
Is it just me, or is this the most disgusting thing you’ve ever heard of? I hate to think of all the nasty diseases they’re passing on to these excitable people!

Sunday turned out to be a nice day, quite a change from the day before. Gondola rides were again big business after the lull in the rain. At 80 Euros for a ‘short’ trip, they certainly know how to charge too. We instead used the working man’s gondola – the Traghettos that are taxi services to ferry people across the Grand Canal in places that aren’t handy to a bridge. These are punted by two men, and fit about 10 people. Sometimes people sit down, but whenever we saw them, the passengers were standing up as they were rowed across the canal. To me, there seemed to be something very unstable about standing up in a boat, but the people on it didn’t seem to mind.
Most of them weren’t holding on to anything, or else talking on their mobile phones. Getting on or off the gondola, you were offered a nice strong arm of a gondolier to hold on to.

We caught a ferry out to an island a couple of minutes across the water from Venice, however it was quite boring as there was only one attraction – a church with a large tower you could climb up – and it was closed. Of course we didn’t think to check that out before we got there!! We were in good company with a whole heap of other people who were standing on the docks wondering what to do next. After a token quick walk around, we were on the next ferry back to Venice. Luckily it was so close.

We had a nice weekend in Venice. It is such a unique place and one of those great cities of the world.
We got lost constantly in the maze of streets, but that was half the fun. We did get assisted on one of the nights by a friendly, elderly Italian woman, who could tell we were lost, and gave us directions in Italian, with a lot of charades thrown in. After watching to make sure we were on the right track, she waved goodbye, and disappeared into the night.
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450 km (280 miles) traveled
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photo by: asturjimmy