For a short fall break, a couple of my friends and I traveled to Venice and Florence the 7th through the 11th of November. If I could sum up our time in Venice, I think the verb "traipsing" fits it best. Perhaps "ambitious wandering" could epitomize it as well. When the sites are as beautiful as this, it's tough to want to do much more than traipse.
Venice is a beautiful city, but it is covered in tourism. I've found that my favorite parts of cities aren't the touristic parts; they're the hidden gems and tucked away treasures. For example, I've visited the Eiffel Tower 3 times since I arrived in Paris, but the little cafe nestled in the Montmartre Hill... I've been there at least 7 times. As for Venice, it seemed that even the back streets and less populated areas were still catering to tourists.
But that being said, it is a stunning city.
I knew that Venice was sinking, but I didn't know that it was sinking and flooding to the extent that it is! Each day when we were there, there was a midday high tide that cause large parts of the city to be unaccessible without rain boots (or the beautiful covers that go over your shoes.. They come in ridiculously bright primary colors.) The city puts up walkways each morning before the high tide and takes them down each afternoon. They were great for us, considering that we did not want to pay the 10 euros for a pair of plastic covers for our shoes and bottoms of our pants.
See below for examples of the shoe cover possibilities. San Marco was a little more underwater than I expected.
My one friend compare Venice to a large outlet mall with water, and that sounds like a pretty accurate summation of the city. It was absolutely beautiful, as I mentioned before, but they were lined with souvenir shops and gelato parlors and restaurants. Needless to say, it could get a little overwhelming, especially as someone who does not entirely love shopping.
We spent a lot of time wandering around Venice, typically searching for a particular place. We spent a lot of time confused, but we ended up happening into a couple amazing places this way. We found an incredible Italian restaurant that didn't even have a menu -- just daily specials. Amazing food for really cheap. I haven't had such cheap food since I left the States!
Another place we ran into was this museum. Museums in Italy were not free and often cost a hefty 15 euros or more. Coming from Paris, where almost all the museums are free for EU students (that's us!), we were a little put off by the prices. It's expensive (especially considering that there were problems with the bank on my end and problems with pickpockets on my friends end...). We were able to get into this museum for free though!
As you've probably noticed, I am so impressed by the European ceilings. In nearly every blog post, you'll find at least one that made it into the final draft. They've spent so much time decorating what Americans hardly ever consider to be an important piece of the decoration. I've been quite taken by them.
One of my companions is mildly obsessed with churches, so she made sure to stop at nearly every one and pay the 2 or 3 euros to get in. I was quickly put off by the entrance fee to a church. I thought the purpose of a church was to be free for the masses? (The bold is so that you don't miss the joke.) Apparently, in such a touristic area, churches are not free -- Unless there is a funeral going on. We walked in on a funeral.
We realized about two weeks before we departed that we did not have a Venice hostel. In a scrabbling effort for a hostel, me and my friend tossed up our hands and basically said, "Ugh, anywhere, Kasey. Just pick somewhere." She picked an amazing hostel with this view. I could go on and on about it, but I'm pretty sure you shouldn't write home about your lodging accommodations.
But let's give a grateful HOORAY to Kasey on her successful hostel booking!
Venice is an incredibly picturesque city. My sister saw one of my photos and thought she did a puzzle of a scene that was very similar. As it turns out, she did a puzzle of the exact same row of houses taken from the same bridge in Venice. Such a beautiful city.
Our second day there, we attempted to find this hidden bookstore and spent most of the day in a lost pursuit of it. It was an interesting book store, but fortunately, all the books were in Italian so I wasn't tempted! Without further adieu, the self proclaimed "the most beautiful bookshop in the world":
Thanks for letting us stay for a couple days, Venice, and for letting us eat all of your gelato.. Sorry if there's a shortage now.