Europe: Day 11

Venice, Italy

If there is a city that you should get lost in, it’s Venice. Whether it’s on purpose or by accident, Venice will challenge your sense of direction. If you do not have a map or an up-to-date GPS, you’ll be wandering around for hours. So it’s a good thing that there’s a few piazza around for you to sit down and take a break.

There are two options when staying in Venice. You can stay on the mainland or on the island. I stayed on the mainland. If you decide to book a hotel on the island, be ready to follow a map. Depending on where you booked, you will be walking through a crowd of people to get to your hotel. As I was wandering around, I saw tourists hauling their luggage through the streets of Venice, over canals and up and down steps. Some of them looked lost because they had to find their current location on a map. Venice is like a labyrinth. And some of the streets are not roller wheel friend.

My little adventure started around 10AM. It was a 30 minute walk from my hotel to the Venezia Metre station and another 10 minutes to the island. Upon arrival at Venezia Santa Lucia, I attempted to get my bearings so I can figure out where to go. Right outside the terminal is the Grand Canal, teeming with water traffic. There were transport boat, ferries and gondolas moving left, right and center. I was going to cross the bridge over to the San Polo district but decided on checking out the Dorsoduro first before entering deeper into the maze.

Most of the streets were quiet, probably because everyone was in St. Marco’s square. I think it took me about 3 hours to get to there because there was only one bridge that connects the Dorsoduro to the San Marco district. So every time I could see water, I headed in that direction only to find that it’s a dead end and I had to turn around and try the next street. I got fed up at once point that I just stepped aside and got gelato. I have to say that my favourite gelato so far is Stracciatella. It’s similar to chocolate chip ice cream except the chips are not as chunky. It was a nice way to cool down but with the temperature being so hot, everything melted quickly and I ended up with gelato all over my hands. I couldn’t lick it quick enough. Since there were canals all over the place, I had no problem cleaning up.

Piazza San Marco was packed! Lots of people were sitting in the shade while others were sitting at the cafes. There were a lot of kids around, chasing after pigeons. There were even vendors around selling pieces of bread so you can have your picture taken of a pigeon eating out of your hands.

The line up to get into the cathedral went from one side of the cathedral and around the corner. Tour groups were gathered around, waiting for the guides to come back with entry tickets.

A co-worker of mine had a painting of this as his desktop wallpaper. He’s an older gentleman and would always tell me stories of his travels. It’s nice to hear about people’s travels and it gives you a glimpse of things from their perspective. I find that perspective is a big thing. They say that a shade of a particular colour is not seem the same by two people.

After walking around for hours, I took a break. This guy was singing some nice tunes so I stuck around. The area was nice and shaded and it wasn’t too busy. He must have sung for about 10 minutes before packing up. Before he left, I walked over and gave my donation. I felt that it was worth it.

I thought these Borg-like Carnivàle masks were pretty cool. I think this store said that they were the ones that made the mask for the “Eyes Wide Shut” movie. I don’t recall that scene so I had nothing to compare. Some stores allow you to paint our own masks for €2. Someone told me that back in the day, theses masks were stronger but for tourist, they’re made out of papier mâché so it’s quicker and easier to mass produce.

The clouds darkened as I got closer to Venezia Metre. I was hoping that it was just dark clouds and not rain but then the window started getting hit with rain drops. If I didn’t leave when I did, I would have been caught in the rain on the island. And not just rain but hail as well. As we stopped at one station, I could hear people screen as they ran for the doors of the train. I was thinking to myself, “Have these people ever walked in the rain?” If I didn’t have any electronics on me, I would just stand in the rain. It’s an invigorating feeling. One of my fondest memories of Thailand was running around naked in the rain. That was how I showered over there when I was a kid.

The security guards of the train station recommended that everyone stay inside for a bit because it was hailing. The size of the hails ranges from small pellets to those the side of your thumb. It has been raining and hailing since mid-way from the island so it wouldn’t be long before everything subsided. Once I saw that it wasn’t hailing anymore, I left. It still rained but the cool rain was nice on the skin, especially after a long hot day. Plus it was just water. It’s no big deal. I would be taking a shower before I head to bed anyway.

On the way back to the hotel, I noticed some flowers in a yard that were wet from the rain. I snapped a few pictures here and there. When I was done, I looked up and saw an elderly Italian lady looking at me. I just smiled and waved and carried on.

Venice was nice to see in person. It can be quite the walk if you get lost. Even with a slightly up to date map, you still need to get your bearings or else you’re going in the wrong direction. The nice thing about the island was that there were little water fountains here and there. I’m not sure if it’s drinking water or just water used to wash yourself, but I drank from it. I have a Brita water bottle that has a filter on the lid so it’s fine for me. I think without those fountains, I would have been dehydrated during my walks.