Feb 16, 2008

Venise

Our trip to Venice began with an overnight train ride six hours north east from Rome. We waited on the platform for our train to arrive, under the impression that there is assigned seating once we get on. We climb aboard and calmly walk to our cabin, only to find out that it is occupied by people who were already sleeping. They shut the door in our face and we keep walking.

In the mean time, people have been making mad dashes to any cabin they could find. This should have been an indication to us that the reserved seating was not enforced. Whoops.

We had already broken up into two groups, and Venise, Antony, Jen and I are searching for a cabin. We finally find one, but it doesn't feel very cold. We're running out of options and we figure there's a possibility the air just isn't on because the cabin is unoccupied.

No such luck... the A/C is definately broken. But we've already put our bags up and tried to pull out the seats so that we can lay down. The seats are stuck as well, but we make do. Venise has a very badly swollen ankle that we're trying to keep elevated and Jen has been devoured by bugs that have mercilessly attacked her legs.

Shortly into our train ride a gentlemen pokes his head into our cabin and asks if there's room for one more. All the other cabins are full and he's tired of searching. He helps us pull out the seats further and he joins us in our very hot and humid misery.

Some of us got a little sleep, but I remember all six hours. I remember not knowing when we were supposed to get off the train. Venice is actually a series of islands with a portion of the city on the mainland. We could have gotten off on the mainland, but we had paid for tickets that took us all the way out to an island.

We finally get off the train and are irritated to find out that it's actually colder outside than it was on the train. And then we find the rest of our crew and all I can say is "You're wearing sweaters?!"

Turns out their A/C was broken as well, and they spent their entire night too cold to sleep. Just our rotten luck, right?

We sit inside the train station for a while waiting for the Venitian equivalent of buses to start running. Hooray for water taxis.

I was excited to leave the station and see canals. We were even in time to see the sun rise. And below is one of the statues that was right next to the train station.
Eventually we each pay 10 euro for an all day pass... it might have been 12, someone please correct me if I'm wrong... and we load onto the boat.

I'm looking forward to seeing the city, but I don't know much about Venice and I didn't really have the chance to do my homework. We decide to ride for a while to figure out where we're going. Except we're so tired, as soon as we sit down we start dropping like flies. From left to right we have Jen, Kat, Antony and Sarika. The reflection in the window shows that Venise is still awake, but that doesn't last long.
Venise and Trevor, both passed out.

I've got plenty more... Christina, Antony after he's moved, Kat... but sleeping college kids is only entertaining for so long. I mean it was so bad Kat said she'd "blinked longer than she'd slept." No, it's not quoted properly, I replaced I'd with she'd and not used [ ]. I know...

Most of us sleep through the morning rush, and I watch the locals get frustrated with a bunch of young tourists asleep and taking all the seats, all the while lamenting the fact that we're in VENICE and all we're doing is riding around in a mini motorboat. But I understood how tired we all were and at some point briefly succumbed to sleep as well.
After riding around for nearly two hours and taking in the scenery twice, we get off at Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark's Square, home of St. Mark's Basilica and Campanile. It's the tourist hotspot and a beautiful one at that.

Did I mention I loved Venice? I love Venice. Anyway...

The square is very unique. This will give you an overall idea of the layout.
The water is to your back, the Campanile is to your left, the Basilica and some buildings with beautiful facades to your right, and the square continues off to your left around the Campanile. It's more of a backwards L shape if you will. And now for the close ups.
I don't know much about the Campanile, but I know that the Campanile on the Berkeley campus is modeled after it, and somewhere around here I have a picture of all the Cal kids standing in front of it. Christina, Venise and I were the only non-Cal students of the bunch. Hmph.
Found it. It was taken on Trevor's camera and I just borrowed it from his Facebook...

And this is one of my favorite shots of the Basilica with all the tables and chairs that fill the square from the nearby cafes. The compression just kills the shot. From another angle... This portion of the square is also filled with tourists feeding the pigeons. I know I just heard about twenty people say ewww, but for some reason we did it and it was hilarious. We bought two bags of birdseed for a euro a piece from a woman in the square, and we fed the birds. Let me tell you, those are some smart birds.

And yes Mom, I washed my hands afterwards.

As we were running out of birdseed someone suggested that Antony lie down and we cover him in it. Well, I wouldn't have mentioned it if he hadn't done it, would I?

Following the feeding frenzy we broke up for a little while to do our own thing. I of course walked around and took pictures. I didn't go into the Basilica, but Trevor did and he said it was pretty cool.

Here are some details of the Basilica and the surrounding buildings.
To give you a better idea of just how big the square is, I have a little video for you.

video
And of course, what is Venice without some water and gondolas?We meet back up and decide it is time to check in to our hotel. To do that we have to go back to the trainstation to go back to the main land to take a bus to get to our hotel. The trainstation via water taxi and mainland via train was easy. The bus was not so easy.
The guy at the trainstation told us we had to take the 9 to get to our hotel. He also told us how soon it would be arriving. He got the bus number right and the ETA very very wrong. We wait for more than an hour, and even venture off two at a time to get food and drinks while waiting. Some of us fall asleep... the whole bit. The bus finally arrives and we make it Hotel "R" around 1PM. We take turns getting into the shower and putting on clean clothes. I had changed by shirt at the trainstation earlier that morning, but some people were still in the clothes they had worn the day before in Rome. And if we weren't showering, we were definately napping.

I think we made it out of our hotel around 3:30PM. Two and a half hours for 8 people is pretty darn good. But for some of us, me included, this was our only day in Venice, and we wanted to see as much of it as possible.

We make it back out to the island and we have a few things on our list. Dinner, a gondola ride, gifts and gelatto.

At some point during our walk Antony suggests that we steal some guy's boat. Trevor is instantly up for the idea. I look at it and see POLIZIA down the side. Now I don't speak Italian, but I'm pretty sure I do know what that means. I know they're joking, at least I think they are, but I still decide to tell them "You guys know that's a Police boat." They hadn't notice that yet, and everyone busts up laughing.
This would be "that guy's" boat...

We continue on our walk as the sun starts to set.
We do some shopping and I picked up two masks for my sisters. I wanted one for myself, but it was a full size mask with peacock feathers at a bargain price of 325 euros. I knew it would neither fit in my budget nor my suitcase and I sadly left it hanging from the rafters of the shop I found it in. It's one of those things I'll pick up on a return trip. Finally we find a gondola. We tried to stay away from the popular places figuring that the price my be cheaper if there wasn't a line around the block. Gondola rides are a total tourist attraction. No one in Venice uses them, they take the water taxis or they have their own boats.
This gondola is like the Ferrari of all gondolas, tricked out and tacky in red and gold. It's a little much, and we're all making fun of it until we find the gondollear and realize that the Ferrari is his. Kat and I don't really want to spend the money for the ride, and the boat only seats six anyway. She and I also aren't about to go find our own boat and pay 45 euros each for a 30 minute trip up and down a canal.

It is however something I will do when I go back.

So Kat and I watch the rest of the group load up and float off, and we wander.
... but not before taking a classic tourist shot on a bridge looking into the sun.
We find gelatto and enjoy. I believe Kat had peach and was savoring every last spoonful.
Next comes dinner. Yes, we had dessert before dinner. Sarika on the other hand had dessert for dinner. The ice cream sundae she ordered was larger than her head. It's definately dark by the time we're done eating and I take advantage of window sills and spot lighting.
We're not quite sure what to do now that we're done eating, so we head back to St. Mark's Square. The square is full of vendors selling paintings and trinkets. There are also more tables and chairs lining the square, and we figure out that there are three restaurants from the end of the square to the Basilica with outdoor seating. Each restaurant has it's own live orchestra playing, and it's almost like they're dueling. It sounds fantastic and creates a very romatic atmosphere. We sat down at one of the tables and planned on ordering a drink, but when we found out that a coke was 8 euro, we decided to grab drinks from a local store and sat in the middle of the square instead. The air had finally cooled down and the stone of the square was still warm. It was perfect. I just sat there watching it all, taking it all in.

Here we have the Basilica at night...
It gets late and we decide it's time to head back to the hotel. Four of us have to get up early in the morning to catch our flight and it's been a long day. We load up on a water taxi and we start the trip back. We had to catch a different boat then usual because of how late it was, and there was some confusion as to when we were going to get off. Unfortunately, Trevor got off one stop to early, and before we could get him back on the boat it pulled away from the dock. We drove off watching Trevor stand there all by himself.

We all felt terrible because we'd managed to lose Trevor. I mean first Venise in Rome and now Trevor. You could say we were a bit disorganized. So we waited at the last stop until Trevor was found and we all got back to the hotel safe and sound.

Those of us who are leaving in the morning pack our bags so that we're ready to go. We set alarms and go to sleep, ready to wake up in the morning and catch our plane out of Treviso, a nearby city, back to England.

If only things were so simple.

No comments: