Last stop: Venice
Well it's the last travel update!
Can't believe we made it here, go you if you've been reading along this whole time. I hope I've been entertaining. I promise there's no pop quiz at the end to prove you've read them all.
That would be funny though. Where was I June 8th?! Honestly, I don't even remember.
But this is about Venice.
They call Bruges the 'Venice of the North' and after being in both places it's pretty easy to see the similarities.
But Venice is a little busier. And by a little I actually mean a lot. One of the tourist guides proudly informed me that Venice, with a population of about 55,000 in the historical part of the city, sees more tourists everyday than its population. Which seems a little farfetched... but after walking the streets and running into a traffic jam every second I might almost believe it.
The city itself reminded me of a maze I once helped make as part of a work experience trip to a lab where they were running tests on rats to study blood pressure. Every corner opens into a narrow street that twists and turns and all of a sudden you hit a canal or a bridge or a dead-end and have to turn back around.
But it's small enough that getting lost really isn't that big of an issue as you're bound to make it back where you started at some point.
I arrived in Venice in the mid-afternoon after a very complicated morning.
I left Salzburg at 8am on a train that was supposed to drop me in Villach so I could get another train to Venice. But disaster struck. I arrived in Villach well enough with my 7min transfer time. I was all confidence until I saw "Gate: BUS". A moment of panicked ensued. Bus?! Where the hell do the buses leave from... do they leave in 7min too?
After rushing around and being directed outside by a vague flick of a hand from a worker I found three buses with my train number on them. Naturally, I checked the number, dumped my bag and jumped on to make sure I had a seat. You never know with European transport and I hadn't reserved a seat for this particular train trip.
After everyone was seated the driver gets on and says "Udine only!" to which all the little heads around me nodded and my stomach dropped out of my ass. Where the fuck is Udine?!
But I decided I wouldn't panic. This was definitely the replacement bus. There were going to be other stops on the way to Venice, that made sense. It didn't make logical sense to me that in the chaos of getting on the bus they would've organised each bus for each stop so I thought, fuck it, I'll stay on. Worst case I get off in Udine, wherever that is, and get another train to Venice.
I trusted that I was at least heading in the correct direction. Plus everyone around me seemed to be American and I couldn't believe they were all on the way to Udine so I had faith.
Cue a bus arrival in bum-fuck nowhere.
It all worked out as I'd be watching the bus in front of our bus (one of the other three) and it had also arrived in Udine so I was confident we were all in this together.
The workers in Udine were much more organised. "VENICE PLATFORM 6" they screamed, over and over again.
Another train ride later and I was in Venice - Santa Lucia.
A little later that I had planned but in one piece and on the same day, so I can't complain.
What I can complain about is the water bus situation. It was about 1km to my airbnb and I had my fat bag and it was over 30 degrees and I was tired. This is not an ideal combination for dragging my bag through the streets of Venice.
So I payed my 7.50 euro and got on what I thought was the correct water bus which turned out to be an express? So I had to get off and on again and go back the way I'd come.
After all the hassle I still had to walk 400m to my airbnb over two bridges. So I was feeling pretty peeved I hadn't saved my 7.50 euro and just walked.
The airbnb was beautiful though. This was the view out of my window:
I spent my first afternoon having an aperol spritz by the canal nearby and letting myself sweat like I was in a shared sauna as opposed to a city. But I was too tired to care.
I picked up some snacks from a grocery store and spent the evening sitting in front of a fan praying for a cool breeze.
On my first day in Venice I mentally prepared myself to sweat my tits off.
I walked to other side of Venice and then spent 2 hours on a walking tour of southern Venice, including descriptions of previous inhabitants of homes along the grand canal and a brief history of the city itself.
On this tour I met ANOTHER australian. I seriously made up for the lack of aussies in the first half of the trip by being surrounded by them in the second half. Constantly.
Anyway, this australian was lovely and happened to live in Geelong where my favourite football team is. We decided to have lunch together which was really nice. We followed this up by finding some Banksy art, checking out the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari, which is the largest church in Venice. It was beautiful inside. We concluded the afternoon with a gelato and a walk back across Venice so I could go on my second walking tour and she could ride the water bus the entire way around Venice.
All in all, a great afternoon! Hope you're enjoying that surf and yoga trip Claire!
In the late afternoon I went on my second walking tour around the northern part of Venice. This tour was a little different as the guide was a bit eccentric and very, very Italian.
We even had a wine break for half an hour in the middle.
But it was still a great tour of the Jewish ghetto, some of the lesser known areas of Venice and even the Church of the Illuminati (an important stop :P )
A few people had to leave midway through for flights or trains and he spent the rest of the walk shit-talking them so badly I think he scared a few others into staying.
In the evening I walked back to my airbnb and crashed pretty hard.
On my last day in Venice I left my bags near the station, walked around aimlessly, found the bridge of sighs (I saw a similar one in Oxford that had been based on this bridge so I was pretty chuffed to see both in one trip). I also found a cute little spot to write for a while and cut down the time. At 6pm I enjoyed a shared gondula ride around the canals, with an audio guide we couldn't hear because our boat got too far ahead of the guide (naturally).
But the views were nice enough and its a novelty I wanted to partake in.
In the late evening I read a book in the park, at more gelato and relaxed before my late night train followed by an even later overnight bus to Rome for my last stop before home.
I won't bore you with a post because I only had the one night in Rome and I stayed in Fiumicino near the airport but there was a lot of searching for a bus (2 hours) in 36 degree heat and a very pissed off sweaty Rhiannon who lay under a fan for 12 hours in agony.
But that's over now.
And so is my trip (but there'll be another post for that).