Venice? That’s not in the Czech Republic James. Indeed it is not and my apologies for the detour but I like to post some different travel photos and stories every now and then to mix things up a bit. Back in 2010 Sinéad and I went an unforgettable mini inter-railing trip around the South of Europe. It was easily the best travel experience I’ve ever had filled with some great memories and fantastic sights, sounds, smells and…..sandwiches.
You see in order to travel all the way from Barcelona to Venice by train would involve an expensive (although for the experience very reasonable) train ticket, flights into our starting point and out of our finishing point, accommodation for the ten days as well as food and drink costs. And given our fairly low incomes we’d have to go it the budget way.
Which we did and it was great! We would stay in hostels or the cheapest hotels we could find and instead of eating out all the time we decided to prepare packed breakfasts and lunches to nibble on as we strolled around the various sites.
I know I should really do this series chronologically but you know what, the order doesn’t matter because each location was different and each journey of this type that different people will go on, will be different. That’s the joy of buying an open train ticket, putting a loose itinerary together and just going.
So Venice then…..”What’s that like? I hear it’s mad expensive”. It is, if you’re a gullible tourist moron willing to pay a premium to have a coffee in St. Mark’s Square. We did that in Florence. €12 for a coffee and a hot chocolate. F**K…..RIGHT….OFF. That’s feck by the way, the slightly less offensive Irish version 🙂
Like any major city, and especially one which has one of those giant ACME magnets for tourists attached, it pays to walk just a few feet off the beaten track. Go just one more street over and you’ll find prices drop significantly…..pssst these are the local places, don’t tell the tourists.
So anyway Venice then. Yes. Wow. Stunning. Amazing. Like a fairy tale film set you’re just not prepared for it as you get off the train and walk out of the station. Even your first view of the place is….yeah it’s alright. Then you cross the bridge and go down the rabbit hole. Whooosh you’re into a labyrinth of narrow streets, rustic buildings with every shade of orange, brown and red imaginable and every corner you turn there’s something new. No building is the same, no canal or waterway looks like the other, it’s a maze…..ING! Yet you don’t get lost, or at least we didn’t anyway (Whoooo go team navigation skills). There’s signs for “That place you’ve seen in all the postcards and calenders is this way” or “Right this way to the place where every shop sells Venetian masks”. Finding your way around and getting your bearings in a place that really should swallow you whole and never give you back to the outside world is surprisingly hassle free.
Now don’t get me wrong, the main touristy sites were most impressive, except for that oh so common occurrence….scaffolding. As I’ve said before in previous posts, scaffolding follows us everywhere we go. There hasn’t been one place we’ve visited where at least one of our chosen sites wasn’t obscured by steel and wood covered in canvas or a hastily painted representation of what should be behind the fabric curtain. But yes as impressive as the main sites were, I just felt drawn to the little nooks and crannies down the side streets, the little squares where old ladies sat chatting or a group of men would be relaxing eating their sunflower seeds and decorating the ground with shell after shell while hungry pigeons looked on with curiosity.
I think we saw about 10% of Venice, if even. But what a 10%! I absolutely loved every minute of it….except perhaps that afternoon when a chap tried to sell us “gold” jewellery after we wandered a little far from the safety of the endless tourist snake. Politely declining we made our goodbyes and desperately tried to return to streets with a population of “more than absolutely nobody in sight you’re going to get murdered”. Our friendly salesman pursued us, perhaps thinking we liked to be chased, you know THAT kind of customer. “Oh no i’m not interested but perhaps if you chase me down narrow alleyways I might just change my mind”. Not the best sales pitch ever made. When we reached the safety of the conveyor belt of tourists making their way to and fro the main sites, we decided it best to perhaps stick to the main streets in future. Stoopid salesmen ruining all our fun with their notions.
Venice is a safe city and i’m sure he wasn’t chasing us, just going back the same way as us so don’t let that little tale put you off. Obvious things like keeping an eye on your belongings at all times apply, same as any major tourist area.
So would I go back to Venice? Hells to the yes I would! There’s so much to see there that you’d easily spend a week there and still not see everything. I’d love to go back and explore some of the islands in the lagoon, you know like the haunted Roman one for example. I absolutely loved Venice and its sheer departure from any other city I’ve visited. It’s a beautiful place that I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a city break that’s a little bit different. And no we didn’t go on a gondola. I know, I know *hangs head in shame*
And now for some photos. All taken with Bob, my trusty Canon 40D with EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6. (Yes I know, I know *hangs head in shame again)
Full gallery of images from Venice can be found on the Facebook page here