Venice: bridges, water and walking
Monica’s adventures to get to Venice:
This is where I enter the scenery! I took a flight from Montreal to Paris with Air Transat and it looked like a pretty good start for the trip. Once I arrived in Paris it was a different story! When I arrived at the Gare de Lyon, they informed me there were no more trains to Venice, at all, not that day, not the next day or even the day after that! It was starting to look like I would never be able to reach her in Italy, but after a lot of tries a few encounters with the military with guns guarding the train station and 3 different tickets vendors we found the only possible option: I had to take a train de Geneva that same day and then take a 7hrs train to Venice the day after. I had to pay full price for the first train and we had to find a last min host for the night I would spend in Geneva, but we managed to figure everything out in the end and I eventually reached Venice 2hrs before Laura.
After a lot of trouble and a beautiful scenery on my way to Venice (The Alps!! And snow!) I finally met up with my sister and our host in Venice. How I missed her jokes at my expense! We bought a very expensive but oh so useful public transport pass for 72 hours and headed to our Host’s.
The first thing we did was to go grocery shopping. We bought pasta of course (and it was sooo cheap!) and a huge bag of cookies. I love italian supermarkets! Then we cooked pasta for our lunch the second day and met Droz’s flatmates, all 3 of them Boondock Saints fans. Now don’t go asking what that is because my sister is going to answer with a 1000 words comment. You just need to know it’s a movie.
Friday morning we got up really early to leave at the same time as our host and get the most out of the short winter days. He left us on the island and went to class while we tried to find our way to San Marco. Did you know Venice is the doom of tourists? Maps are useless and you just have to go with the flow. The city is really beautiful though, with all its small alleys, bridges, canals, and no car/bikes anywhere.
Eventually, we found San Marco. It was a very nice sight but there were a lot of repairs going on and most of the buildings were covered in white plastic. Sad. We encountered our first elevated sidewalk though. Throughout the city are tables with pavement on top piled together, ready for use in case of high water. We would have liked to see the Basilica but we had to drop our bags in a separate building and it was way too much trouble.
Ponte di Sospiri
We walked on the side of the Canal Grande and saw the Ponte di Sospiri … the most disappointing tourist attraction I’ve seen yet. They dressed it in a big publicity of sky and who knows what. Ugh.
Afterwards, we headed to Rialto, the big bridge with a bunch of shops on it. It was pretty crowded. We also entered a shop where a lady is supposed to be sewing journals and greet you from the 3rd floor. She didn’t greet us … but the shop was nice. Wish we’d have money to spend like crazy.
We then got our first experience of many on the waterbus. It was pretty crowded but funny. You really have to get used to being on a boat when in Venice, because it’s the most usual way to get around. And after a while on it you find the solid ground a bit weird.
We got of at Giardini, where there was the Biennale of Architecture. It was too expensive to visit, but the park was pretty and the city around it too. I like trees and especially since in Venice most of them still have leaves! I love going south.
Boy and the Frog
From there we walked back to San Marco and took a waterbus to the other side of the canal, where we went to look at a statue we had seen from the boat. We have no idea what it was supposed to represent (apart from a boy holding a frog) and why there was a military guy guarding it, but it was funny.)
We went to a museum of modern art next and saw some Pollock, Dali, Picasso, Giaccometi and others. It was nice although of course, as usual, some paintings were really weird. There was also a special exhibition of an American artist that we didn’t like much at all.
We entered a church then, which was round and was different than the usual ones I see. I liked it. The outside was full of statues also. It was very nice and we debated for a while wether one of the sculptures was Jules Cesar or not. We haven’t gotten to a compromise yet.
We took the waterbus back to Rialto then and stopped at a restaurant to eat some Italian Pizza. I don’t know what it is, but their Pizza is really good, and different from other pizza I’ve tasted. I guess it’s somewhat normal! But Venice is not cheap. Its restaurants and shops are all very expensive!
At night we went to get a beer with our host at a bar close to his place and my sister discovered a really awful beer that she loves. Something that tastes like coffee and is really bitter … ew! They serve breadsticks though in Italian bars. They were really good!
Late Morning, fugitives and Jewish Quarter
The next day, we woke really late. We didn’t get into town before noon. Droz was so kind as to show us the Jewish quarter and on our way we were passed by running thieves and the copes that pursued them. The cops gave up but we saw the guys later sitting on a bridge and looking through a bag full of purses. We also saw them selling those purses later that night … oh well! The Jewish Quarter is rather different than the rest of the islands. And it’s also the cheapest place in Venice. We wanted to go back to have supper there but we were too afraid of getting lost.
Our host escorted us to the waterbus where he left us safely on board the boat for Murano. Murano is an island, famous for it’s glass makers. They where moved out of the main island because their furnaces caused fires. When we got there we witnessed a glass master making a vase, as well as a horse figurine. It is a work of speed and the look of the melted glass reminded me of caramel. Really moldable yet hard. We also bought some small souvenirs from the shop. Even though we learned later that it was only the flawed glass that was sold in Venice (the good one being exported).
Our next stop, was another island, called Burano. It is described as “Postcard pretty” in my guidebook. It’s because every house has a different color. It is rather beautiful and somewhat funny. We were debating how people could use colours instead of numbers to give someone their address. “I live in the blue house on that street” So much easier and quick! We got rather lost walking around the streets (without a map) and seeing how the waterbus came to that island only once an hour we asked our way.
Night in Venice
Once back on the main island, we stopped at a McDonalds (even those are expensive in Venice!) and we waited for our host to meet up with us. He then showed us Venice by night, which is way more populated than by day. The small streets were crowded! We headed to San Marco which was way more beautiful by night because of the lights (one at each window of the big building that makes up 3 of the 4 sides of the square) Then we walked to Academia where we had Gelato and a Spritze. The ice cream was divine! And we were told it was hand made too (unlike most touristic stands). We then headed back to the bus and on the way we saw a dozen more churches and the prison. The prison lies between a church and a nun college. Interesting …
Sunday, we had some time before we had to take the train so we headed to Lido, another Island. The resort one. Once there, we walked the whole width of it to get to the beach. It wasn’t as pretty as it could have been because the sky wasn’t clear. Usually you can see the coast of Slovenia and Croatia on the other side but not that day. We did pick some shells up and touched the Mediterranean sea though!
On our way back we stopped in a park behind San Marco and enjoyed the green trees. We also laughed at the pigeons that came to us after we were done throwing biscuits at them.They seemed to lack synchronization. Afterwards, we headed back to the continent to get our luggage, say goodbye to our host and head for the train station.
On our way to Verona! Romeo and Juliette is the next story 😉