Venice / Venezia
Known as a romantic city, however, too crowded and noisy to be romantic, in my opinion. It is a nice city, nevertheless. It is also quite impossible not to get lost in the a-maze-ing maze of the hundreds of similar looking narrow alleys and canals and bridges at every corner you turn. There are hardly any street names, only canal names and some occasional but confusing direction signs on the walls. In fact, the best way to explore Venice is to get lost in its labyrinth of streets and let your feet take you to wherever it wishes.
Took a bus from our hotel out to Piazzale Roma in the city, and started our city exploration here. The tour guide made us say this name out loud 4 times (“Now children, repeat it after me: Pee-ah-zalle-Roh-maa!!”); to make sure each of us remembers exactly where to get back to at the end of the day, to take the same bus back to the hotel, just in case we got lost in our adventures. It was really funny. 😉
We were still in Italy, and just like in Florence, no foreign tour guides allowed to operate here so we were supposed to meet up with our local Italian guide to take us for a city tour from here. Unfortunately, she fell sick and had to blow us off. So we were stranded with the magnificent trio – our own guides+driver, unfortunately, all British. So, sneaky-sneaky….. We have to go ahead with the walking tour with 3 very discreet tour guides, who spoke so softly (or hardly), that i didn’t manage to hear any stories about Venice at all. Except one thing : Every square, big or small, has its own well, for water supply.
As Venice itself is made up of a cluster of islands, it is also practical to take the Vaporetto (water taxi) to travel within the islands. A day pass with unlimited hop-on/ hop-off would cost €16. Taking a Vaporetto is as common to the Venetians as us taking a bus or train to commute to work or to travel anywhere in Venice.
Gondola ride – just like in the movies, except the boatman doesn’t sing. It gives a nice quiet tour within the canals of the city, from the Grand Canal into the smaller inner canals of the city. Our boatman was so skilful he paddled the gondola with only one hand and the other stuck in his pocket, even when navigating through narrow corners and passing other gondolas along the way. Impressive.
Murano – The island most famous for glass blowing and lace making. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived in the evening, all the glass making furnaces were closed. Showrooms were still open though, and displayed all sorts of glass products, pretty, colourful, fancy, and freaking expensive glass decorative items. I asked one of them what time the factory closes, and was answered with a polite but hurried “Morning only, ciao!”. And when i asked what time i can come again tomorrow morning, another louder “Ciao!” came my way. I have decided not to visit this island again.
Lido – The island famous for its long stretch of beaches, and so to the beaches we went. However, it was too cold and windy to take a long walk along the beach on that day.