(just to let you know, you can click on any of the pictures to make them bigger)
I'm sorry for the lack of updates, internet connections in hostels aren't very good. So prepare yourself for a long post covering all of Venice.
Katie and I left bright and early Saturday morning for Venice, and after 2 flights, a 45-minute bus ride, an ambiguous map, and using mapquest on my phone, we arrived at our hostel: A Venice Fish (our hostel had it's own bridge- pictured above).
Hostels are always an adventure. It had a great location and a beautiful view, but the hostel itself was highly unorganized and we got moved around every night because they forgot that we were staying there for three days.
Katie and I were both pretty sick the whole time. Which was unfortunate, but we have some pretty hilarious memories because of it. Our sickness included a runny nose and a bad cough. We quickly learned that laughing causes horrible coughing fits, followed by a huge runny nose. We also quickly discovered that when it's wisest not to laugh, you tend to laugh a lot more. I'm pretty sure that everyone in Venice thinks we're the grossest people ever. We'd get into a huge laughing fit then we'd start coughing like crazy and then we'd both have to blow our nose. I think we were bad business for outdoor cafes.
So Venice (or Venezia, as the Italians call it). Venice is magical. It's a lot smaller than one would think, being a larger tourist spot in Europe, but it would take us about 30 minutes to get from one side of the city to the other. I say it's magical because it's like a combination of every cute Italian movie stereotype and Phantom of the Opera. I think the Phantom of the Opera should've taken place here. It could take place today and still look the same. The city is old, and it goes to sleep around 11pm, so the streets are deserted. It's both creepy and cool because it's like you get the city to yourself.
The first night, Katie and I were exploring and we wandered down many empty streets that
were so narrow, we could touch both sides with our hands. We wandered our way to the largest piazza (or, plaza) in Venice called St. Marco's Square. We were looking around when we both heard music and assumed it was playing from a speaker because it sounded like a symphony.
But we followed the sound and found that it was actually coming from a small stage surrounded by cafe tables and chairs. There was a small band of a violinist, bass player, pianist, and an accordion player. They were playing songs both familiar and unfamiliar to the people eating at the cafe and a few onlookers. People were dancing in the lamplit plaza. It was a great first impression for both of us. And it helped that they played a Phantom of the Opera medley!
(I put together a quick video of this, combined with an opera performance we went to.)
The food was wonderful, of course. We had homemade pasta the first night, and the next day, and the next. For breakfast one day we had these awesome pistachio croissants with chocolate chips in them, I had the best basil pesto I've ever had, and we had to eat gelato at least twice a day. A wonderful food we discovered was pizza. Yeah, pizza is going to be good in Italy, I know. But street vendor pizza. It's 2 euros per slice. But check out the picture to see what a "slice" is.
It's impossible for me to describe everything, so I'm leaving you with these pictures and a few tips/facts about Venice.
- Pigeons should be fed when you are completely done eating.
- Being by both the river and trash means that you will most likely see a rat. Ones that I mistake for small dogs.
- You will get lost - but you are never really lost. You will always end up somewhere unexpected that turns out to be some of your best memories (stumbled across the empty plaza [below] that way).
- If you sit on steps leading down to the water, leave a step or two for waves from passing boats.
- Cheap pizza is like taco bell. There's entirely way too much food for so little a price, and you know it's not good quality, but boy is it good.
- Always follow your ears and/or nose. It will be worth it.
- When staying in a cheap hostel, prepare to be flexible.
- Venetians work on their own time. Prepare to be flexible.