My first night in Venice I actually stayed out of Venice, near Mestre, in a private room in a random hotel. I hadn’t booked a room for this night due to my schedule changing slightly, so I took the opportunity for some rest. I did laundry, ate some delicious pizza in a nearby packed restaurant, then went to bed early, enjoying a hot shower in the luxury of my private bathroom.
The next morning I took the train to Venice proper to drop my bags off at my originally booked hostel, with a bridge to it right over a small canal (technically a river). I then set off sightseeing. First I saw some clothes shops so purchased a couple of dresses that I could wear in Ibiza: grossly conscious of my significant weight gain I was aiming for some new shorts, but all of them were hilariously too small, not assisting my self confidence!
I remembered to check for what Audioguides I had downloaded for Venice. One was a guide to a canal cruise on a public vaporetta, so I walked back to the train station and took line number one for about half an hour, listening to Rick Steves’ comentary on the various beautiful castles and sights I passed. This was certainly the way to view Venice.
The tour ended at St Mark’s square where I jumped off and walked along the Riva where all the hotels were, choosing a restaurant that had 10 euro pasta. Although I was sure it was dodgy and frozen tagliatelle, I enjoyed it nonetheless.
After lunch I went into St Mark’s basilica, ingeniously using a dress I had bought as a skirt so I was decent for entry. It was only a very short queue, being about 4pm. I marvelled at the Byzantine mozaics while listening to another detailed audio guide on the interior and exterior.
That night, after chatting with friendly girls in my dorm room, I ended up having a comfortable early night, like everyone else in the room was doing.
The next day myself and four girls in our room had agreed to do a Gondola ride, so at 10am we set off and jumped aboard our gondola. For 16 euros each we enjoyed 40 minutes cruising the main canal and small rivers, seeing things we wouldn’t otherwise have seen. The gondolier gave us some commentary on key sights, too.
Back on land I set off for St Mark’s Square to do the audio guide I had downloaded that morning. This was very interesting and I enjoyed wandering around and sitting in the fleeting sun to hear about the different historical buildings.
I watched the Moore figures donging the bell repeatedly at the top of the clock tower at midday, and the bell ringing on the top of the tall bell tower. I particularly enjoyed listening to the four piece orchestras playing at the historic Cafe Florian, which I also peeked inside, and one opposite on the other side.
Hungry, I walked to another restaurant along the Riva, this time one with 9 euro pasta and free wifi (Vodafone Italy has unceremoniously cut off my internet until June due to me apparently hitting some quota: something I did not know was possible with Europasim!).The ravioli I had tasted good but was about the same quality as something I would whip up from a frozen packet in a saucepan, and was partly still cold.
I then took the audio guide’s advice and bought a ticket for the nearby Doge’s Palace at the Caro museum so I could skip the line. This palace was to me like a mini St Peter’s Basilica (although it was a place of justice, it was still full of glorious religious themed frescos and the like). As part of this I walked through to the prison across the famous Bridge of Sighs, looking out the same view I had previously looked in.
Feeling quite cold (it has been unseasonably cold everywhere I have been over the past few weeks) I elected to walk back to the hostel. It was actually warm when I was out of the palace however, so I enjoyed wandering back through the interesting streets.
I grabbed a tacky masquerade shaped piece of marzipan and cappucino and sat on a nearby set of steps under a fancy church with a few others who had the same idea, enjoying the sun as I consumed both. The cappuccino was tasty but the marzipan was not particularly good: I guess one has to go to Toledo for that!
Back at the hostel I borrowed a hostel worker’s laptop so I could spend a long time re-backing up all my photos (I left my original USB in Rimini), writing my Croatia blog entry, and checking I had enough money after rashly booking onto a Contiki tour of Ireland commencing the following week. Fingers crossed!
While I was on the computer, New Zealand Laura who was on the gondola with me and an Australian Suzie and I chatted. We eventually went for dinner together, finding a takeaway place and standing up to eat and drink Spritz, the wine based local drink everyone was having.
We then went back to the hostel and had some wine before figuring out, with help from the hostel worker, that the place to go out was an area with students, so we navigated our way the 20 minutes there using a dodgy map (this is why I was supposed to have Google Maps always on my phone!)
We made it after getting lost only a couple of times, and Suzy and I being shut in a toilet and having the lights turned out on us in a bar, presumably because we used it without buying a drink. I do think they could just have asked us to buy a drink, as at 2 euros we would have been happy to!
We eventually found the area where students spilled out onto the piazza area between bars. We struck up a conversation with a few students who spoke English, and enjoyed talking about architecture, Venice and Madrid.