I’m on a blogging roll, so you may have missed my Pisa Post. (No, not pizza-I haven’t figured out how to transport Italian pizza to you all yet.) But, don’t forget it! It includes a wonderful tower, pizza, and Tuscan sunsets!
The next location on my [little-ha!] European adventure was Venice! Wow. This city was just a shocker from moment one. I arrived in the afternoon on Wednesday and walked out of the train station and was faced with a canal. Now, you would probably say, “Yes, Mikaela. You’re in Venice, What did you expect?” So, I guess this was a humbling experience, because I had been feeling pretty confident in my abilities to navigate public transportation lately and I have a pretty set routine of arriving at a place, walking to my hostel, and then figuring out what to do in the city. Not so here. Since my hostel was on a different ISLAND, I couldn’t just walk to it.
Insert Water Bus. It’s like a subway or a bus line, but on water. I should have been excited and awe-struck by this unique experience, but instead I was just stressed and utterly confused. On top of this, the Venetians were not being very helpful or friendly, but I did make it to my hostel after asking about 5 different people questions.
By the time I got to my hostel, It was about 6:30, so I naturally thought it was time for dinner. However, after unpacking and settling in, I was in for another Italian surprise. That being, 6:30 is not quite dinner time. Most of the restaurants don’t re-open until then, so as I wandered the waterfront of my Giudecca island, I was fairly taken aback by the strange quietness and lack of people. Oh well. I just rolled with it and ate another pizza.
The second thing I learned about Venice (or am I on 3 now-I don’t know), is that it’s VERY expensive. Not really a student-budget-friendly place, but you don’t really know that until you get there. It’s also just jam-packed with tourists. Fun Fact: The population of Venice is about 50,ooo people, but they get around 20 MILLION TOURISTS EACH YEAR. So, it really was a beautiful city, but at times, it also felt a bit like I was walking around Disney World, except it was on canals.
So, because I’m me, and me is a nerd, on Thursday, I did two walking tours. Victoria and I had booked a walking tour and gondola ride for the afternoon, and because I was overwhelmed and didn’t know that much about Venice, I just hopped on a free walking tour in the morning.
As usual, I’m so thankful I did. I learn so much about the cities that I go to, being able to just explore them with the locals. Yay for free walking tours. Like, they should have these everywhere, because I love them. Both of my guides were fabulous and took us to non-touristy parts of Venice while also giving a whole slew of fun facts about the city.
On both of the tours, they talked about St. Mark’s Square, which houses a Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, but we didn’t go to it, so after the tours were done, I headed on over to check it out for myself.
The tour guides also talked about the nearby islands of Murano, Burano, and Lido, so I decided that I would take advantage of my water bus ticket and go there on Friday. I started the morning in Lido, which is an island with a little beach. The beach was pretty dead in the morning, so I enjoyed a quiet walk and breakfast at a quiet little cafe.
After Lido, I hopped on over to Burano. And just died. This was the most charming and beautiful and hidden little gem I’ve ever seen. It is known for it’s colorful houses and lace making. I could have taken a million pictures, but I’ll just share a few. I spent the afternoon wandering into the shops, admiring the beautiful lace and smiling because the environment was so beautiful.
The weather turned a bit nasty in the afternoon, as it started to rain, so I didn’t spend much time in Murano. Murano is known for its glass-making, and I did watch a cool demonstration and wander through some of the shops there.
I ended my day back on the main island, where I wandered past the “Silent Bridge,” got a classic tourist bridge photo, and tried black risotto (and didn’t take a picture of it). It was a great end to my Venetian adventure, and I retired early, because I had to be up at 3 am on Saturday, to catch my water bus and train to Rome. Still trying to learn Italian…