Anybody who has been to Venice or has heard of Venice knows how beautiful it is-it is the city without cars and is made up of a crisscrossed interconnected network of canals and pedestrian paths. It’s claustrophobic to an extent, until you reach an opening of a waterway, but even then, the buildings appear as if they’re trying to push you in-they themselves almost ready to fall into the canals. The interconnected canal ways and twisted bridges create beautifully geometrical areas of different depths; with no two areas alike. Because of this, Venice at the same time is the most difficult city to navigate; there’s no way to orient yourself and alleyways either abruptly end with another building or at the waters edge, leaving you to backtrack and find another way. Sometimes you’d think you were safe following people who had just come from an alleyway, only to find that it ended and the reason they were coming from it, was that they had made the same mistake. Luckily, there is an iphone app with the map of Venice that you can use offline; but there’s no fun in exploring a city that way.
When I arrived to my hostel, coincidentally a friend who I met in Rome was checking in at the same exact time. After checking in we set out to explore the city. We wandered around and eventually made it to the Piazza San Marco where we saw the Palazzo Ducale and the Basilica; two buildings I was incredibly excited about seeing since learning about them. We didn’t go into either, but stood out front admiring them both. Around this time, the sun began to set throwing beautiful colors into the sky, but at the same time bringing in the cold. And it got cold. We continued to explore Venice making a loop toward our hostel; we came across a beautiful church, a really amazing mask shop, a hospital that was converted from a monastery and a really wacky and unique bookshop. The bookshop had thousands of books strewn across different rooms in no apparent order; thrown in tubs or on tables. It also had a staircase made of books and some other unique things randomly scattered throughout its different rooms.
We got pizza at the best pizza place in Venice. It happened to conveniently be located less than a minute walk from our hostel. I didn’t think it was that good and was really disappointed if it was they best; they jipped me on pepperoni. We later learned that they usually aren’t open on Sundays and they had a ton of orders that night we went, so i’ll give them that (Michael ordered it the next night and it looked 100 times better). While eating we drank some wine and then wandered around the central island with a Colombian girl we had met in our dorm. There weren’t many people out, so walking around was very relaxing.
The following day we woke up to it raining. Michael and I had planned to do a free walking tour the Colombian girl said she had done. I was very hesitant to go because of my experience with rain in Florence; I really didn’t want soaking wet feet and shoes. In the end, I decided to go and I’m glad I did because I got to see more of Venice and learn things I would have never learned. It was called an alternate tour because it didn’t go to the main focal parts, but instead weaved its way through the whole city touching all six districts. It started in the Jewish quarter, which is the birthplace of the Jewish ghetto. The Jews wee expelled from Spain during the inquisition and came to Italy; the ghetto was the place where they were protected because they were walled in and guarded. I also learned that Venice was a wooden city until the 11th century, which is fascinating to think about and one of the reasons why they are having such trouble today. The city is on a wooden foundation and if not for the metal braces holding the houses together, most of them would be non-existent. Buildings throughout the city are crooked; the most noticeable being the bell towers-they put the tower of Pisa to shame (I don’t really know, but I imagine they are leaning just as much if not more). I learned that carnival was started during a 6 week period with no police intervention between the upper and lower class; the masks were used so neither could tell who was who. On the tour we also saw the place where gondolas are made, unfortunately none were being made at that time. The tour lasted a tiring, but well worth 4 hours.
Afterwards, Michael and I split ways because he wanted to do something else and I wanted to go to Burano, a small island consisting of colorful buildings. Trying to find out how to get there and which boat taxis to take was extremely complicated, I received different information from the different people. On top of that, I was starving, but could’t find any place quick to eat. Eventually I found a kebab place and I found out how to get there. I had to take a total of three boats lasting a little over an hour an a half. On the way there, there was a brief repirve from the clouds and a brief sunset peaked its way out. Just as I was getting excited about the possibility of a cloudless night, it faded and returned to cloudiness.
I only spent 30 minutes in Burano (the time between the next boat leaving) because it was getting dark, my feet were wet and freezing and it was getting cold. There really isn’t much to do there other than to see the town and walk around; I saw all I wanted in the time I had. Of course, I would have loved to stay longer if it was nicer, but it wasn’t, so I didn’t.
The next and my final day, I walked with Michael to the bus stop in the morning, so I could see where I had to take the bus later that day. It was about a 50 minute walk there and back and of course it was raining again, so my shoes got soaked, but I didn’t have to worry about getting lost on my way there! I knew exactly where it was leaving from and how long it would take me to get there. My next stop was Verona!