You may wonder why I would start a post about Venice talking about the ticket machines, instead of a majestic intro that sets up the rest of the post about how beautiful the city is. However, these bloody machines, they are so loud! The first thing you press is the large British flag, the machine then screams at full volume in English that you should be aware of pickpockets etc… it is saying this so loud that even if you were stood on the other side of the station, where the pickpocket is likely to be located, they would become completely aware that you are A) a tourist and B) you probably have more money than most, expensive phones and cameras etc. and therefore are more than likely to be worth pickpocketing. It would have been a shame if they thought that of me, as they would have probably put my shit camera back in my pocket!
There is only one way to describe Venice, and that is ‘Scooby Doo’, you know the scenes where they are running through a corridor and pass the same three or four items on repeat; table, chair, door…table, chair, door, and so on. Venice has a very similar feel, that you keep passing the same street, mask shop, ice cream parlour, restaurant, tourist tat shop… mask shop….. It gets exciting when you pass a shop that is selling something different! In all seriousness, we got lost a ton of times as the whole place looks the same. We set off from one square to find San Marco’s and managed to walk for thirty minutes or so, and somehow completed a full square tour, and ended up at the same square we started at, what a nightmare! Although we did finally find the Piazza San Marco and the church buildings we very ornate, I’m glad I got a chance to see these and the canals that wind their way all over the place!
The streets were also full of street vendors, selling squishy ball things?? Seriously, who the fuck goes to Venice to buy a squishy ball from a random black guy? Maybe some people do, but it’s in none of the ‘Top ten must do’s’ I’ve read! If you don’t have a selfie stick and want one, then fly to Venice and you will have the choice of thousands of crap ones, as they all sell these too.
Nothing says romance like a Gondlola ride on the canals of Venice, right? Wrong! Nothing says romance like taking out a second mortgage to pay someone wearing fancy dress to push you through traffic filled canals. All the while, the fancy dress man will be serenading you, well no, more likely from what I saw they will be splashing other gondolas without work, smoking, having a beer, shouting to their buddies (LADS!) or just playing on their phones? For €80 a pop, I would expect a lot more for my money, even worse these trips are only up to thirty minutes!! I’m a self confessed freeloader, so throwing away money like that is not going to happen, although I would still like to experience the canals, so Jess and me decided that we would have a go ourselves and booked a session with row Venice, where I knew we would become pro’s in an hour and a half!
It was really good, we had a very happy and enthusiastic instructor called Nan, and she showed us the basics, and then we set off down a quieter stretch of canal, until we reached the open water. Here we had a go at working both front and rear oars, I believe we moved nowhere in this time, although we did achieve a half circle turn here and there. So maybe this will not be a new career move for me, but it was still fun all the same! Throughout the tour Nan was firing off snippets of information about the boats, canals and the local areas of interest, as well as this we just chatted general small talk. We made our way back in via a different set of canals, I think I was getting worse rather than better with experience, and allowed Jess to take the helm and she worked hard all the way to the finish, whilst I relaxed on a lovely boat ride! This whole experience was over too soon, but I defiantly preferred this over paying a fortune for someone to not give a shit and just peddle me around.
Whilst we were walking around we kept seeing different restaurants and a lot of pizza stalls. As we had not yet had pizza in Italy, we saw this as a grand opportunity to pop our cherry, we do not eat out often, so this was going to be a double treat! We both chose a Calzone, and we chose takeaway. We found a lovely spot next to the canal and enjoyed one of the shittest pizza’s I’ve ever had! The pigeons were buzzing as they got to share this delight, and I hope we get a second chance to try pizza in Italy as round one was crap, it would be terrible if Asda’s own brand pizza is better than homegrown Italian pizza!
To wrap this up, I do not do town/city tourism much anymore, it’s simply down to the contrast between expectation vs reality. Today we saw hundreds of people squeezed on a bridge trying for a metres space to get photos that shown them alone in a serene moment, with the canals and gondolas below, the perfect holiday photo, when in reality they were barging their way through crowds to get into position, not exactly as serene as the photo might suggest. As for the super models with hair flick backs, whilst lying back as though they were Kate Winslet on a chaise lounge on the Titanic, instead of a crummy back alley, it does make me laugh, maybe I don’t get it as I have neither hair or a fancy chair!
This might sound like a negative post, however I did have a great day. I’ve not been to Venice before and the place is beautiful, it’s surreal to have a place with no cars, and the only roads are made of water. The buildings in places look as though they are falling to bits, but that just adds to the attraction of the place. The grand churches and the fantastic paintings, sculptures and architecture are sublime and beautiful. Although it eventually grated a little, the small streets were different to other cities I have visited and held a certain crowded charm. However, given the choice of a day like today or a day climbing in the mountains, and it will be the mountains every time, natures beauty will always outdo anything man can conjure!