Today was our full day in Venezia.
We woke after a disjointed night’s sleep; it was so hot. We were pretty bleary eyed when we stumbled into the room for a huge breakfast which was prepared for us by the hosts with the typical Italian hospitality. It featured these tasty marmalade croissants, fruit, bread (oh so much bread) and a strong coffee.
Invigorated, we got changed into our best Venezian attire and headed in on the train to Venice island. We alighted, along with thousands of tourists on the pilgrimage to St Marco’s square. We were lucky that our hosts gave us the nifty tip of turning right outside the station and walking this way to the square. The whole of Venice tends to turn left, so your experience will be much quieter if you stay away from the crowd.
The island itself is just as beautiful as the photos would have you imagine. I loved the way the townhouses lay next to each other, a mix of pastel colours catching the sun. To be fair though, the sun wasn’t exactly hard to catch. It was well into the mid 30’s today, and it was warmmmm. By the time we reached a mask making work shop, (something we initially thought was an isolated occurrence and not the first of hundreds) we were absolutely boiling. I was pretty petrified about the fate of my makeup, so we took a moment to explore the workshop and cool down.
It’s definitely a novelty having to cross waterways by climbing over little bridges the same way you would cross a road. I did not tire of watching the gondolas gently float by, in contrast to the water taxis who sped along with flocks of tourists in tow. The rest of the morning was spent gradually making our way to the square via window shopping (there are some fancy designers in the area with collections you won’t find in Australia e.g. Missoni) and dropping into eclectic stores which sold pen and paper, more masks and artwork.
It’s worth noting that if you’re hungry / thirsty, it’s best to sort yourself out before you get too close to the square. For example, with coffee in Italy you pay for service. An espresso may cost you one euro to stand and drink at the bar; if you wanted to sit in to drink it you could easily double that cost. If you get into St M’s square still craving caffeine, expect to pay upwards of ten euros for a sit down coffee (um no). We found a homely pasta joint which was full of people, and I had a good old spag bol for lunch. Yum.
Full of carbs, we walked off lunch by dodging tourists, climbing over streams and finally making it into the square. Ok, so, the square was so full of tourists I literally couldn’t deal. I’m fully aware that I am also a tourist in the square, but other tourists are worse than me, so I could not handle it. It’s also full of pigeons. If you read my post from Pula, you’d know I am not a fan of birds. Pigeons and the public are my two most loathed things. I hate to say it but we didn’t stay long. The queue to get into the chapel was so long and the sun in the middle of the day so harsh, that I think we would have passed out in a proper carb coma if we waited.
I want to come back and visit it, perhaps in the dead of winter when it’s more quiet.
By mid afternoon, the sun had mercifully slightly softened and we decided it was finally time for a gondola ride. When in Venice! The gondolas have an advertised fixed price which is eighty euros for half an hour, but it turns out the prices aren’t actually that fixed. We must have unknowingly looked like master bargainers because when we were told eighty euros, we balked, and timidly told them we would think about it and come back later. Miraculously, they shaved a significant portion off the price, so we ungraciously hopped on (seriously it’s difficult to board a gondola without looking like a baby giraffe learning to walk; I nearly lost a shoe in the canal) for the much anticipated gondola ride.
Look, they really romanticise these things in movies and social media. In my head I imagined as soon as I stepped onto the gondola I would become like belle from Beauty and the Beast, That’s Amorè would start playing, and the gondola man would be a thirty year old single Italian hunk who was secretly a billionaire and was only paddling gondolas to meet a half Gambian person with pink lipstick and mostly sweated off makeup to sweep off her feet.
Boy was I wrong.
The reality of the situation was very different.
Firstly, before we had even gotten onto the gondola, there was a whole heap of under-breath muttering in Italian and funny looks between the two people orchestrating the gondola rides which made me feel semi uncomfortable. Whilst there was no denying that the feeling of drifting atop the water, albeit intermittently ducking in fear, wondering if the boat will clear the very low bridges, was relaxing, it definitely is an experience that’s hyped up. I think I assumed this would be the case, but didn’t assume that along the way we would encounter public fornication (not us) among other things. I guess they had the same daydream as I did…
Our gondola man (forgive me, I’m not sure of the exact title) was an interesting fellow. Whilst paddling us he told us just how much he hated tourists and that he could charge us what he wanted when he wanted because if we said no, there would be thousands of people to say yes. Like, I mean he’s right, but still – inside voice mate. He did call himself a bastard, so I guess he has insight. We just wanted to get some cool shots for the gram, but instead had to pseudo laugh along while we were insulted, leaving very little time for the moneyshot.
After that ride, we came across a very cool art gallery, where I wanted every piece for my non-existent property (thanks Sydney housing prices). I must admit, I was feeling very bland having taken my braids out, so when a lady asked to take my photo in the gallery because my dress matched with one of the installations, I felt less bland (although the situation was still v awkward).
The rest of the day was spent as a slow meander, pausing at shops, cafes and finally at Grom (basically Italy’s version of Baskin Robbins), where I had a biscuit and chocolate flavoured gelato and it was fabulous.
I guess that’s Italy done (for now).