Saturday, 24 September 2005

Travelling: Venezia

I’ve always wanted to go to Venezia and I can’t quite believe that I finally have been!!! I went the weekend of 16 September with several of my classmates and friends (12 of us in all). It was a really last minute thing. I mean there had been some talk about maybe heading to Venezia during the weekend, but we hadn’t actually made any final decisions till about 1.30am on Thursday (or should I say Friday), after we had finished watching a French/Spanish movie at one of my classmates’ apartment…which pretty much left us only a couple of hours to do whatever was needed (go home, pack, sleep) before catching the 7am train. All of us probably got about 2 to 3 hours of sleep that night, but there was the long train ride where most of us eventually fell asleep on after the initial chatter. Lol

It seemed everyone was going to Venezia that weekend though coz we met heaps of other exchange students on the same train and when we arrived in Venezia. The first thing you see coming out of the train station is the Grand Canal with the many buildings on the other side and the huge government building.
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Since we couldn’t check into the hostel till 2pm, we decided to hop onto the vaporetto for which we bought a 24hr pass. The vaporetto is basically the equivalent of the public bus coz in Venezia there are no buses and no cars….everyone travels by boat or by walking coz the land area isn’t very large and the streets are more like alleys – way too narrow for a bus or car to pass through. Anyway, the vaporetto took us down the Grand Canal so it was kinda like a sight-seeing trip down, with lotsa stops along the way.
Image hosted by Along the Grand Canal
Image hosted by Waterways between streets

One thing we noticed on the trip down was that there were hotels and buildings with red penguin statues on the balconies…they were pretty common, but to date we’ve not found out why there are the red penguins there coz it wasn’t written in the guide books and the Italians we asked didn’t have a clue.

We kinda wandered around mostly waiting to check into the hostel and had lunch at some restaurant in the middle of a maze of alleyways. You can quite easily get lost in Venezia coz it’s a maze, plus there are lotsa dead ends at the end of alleys…I wouldn’t like to be running from someone there, you’d just turn left and right and get lost or find yourself at a dead end.
Image hosted by Typical Venetian streets...and Michael

After checking into the hostel, we went out and wandered around some more, mostly taking it easy. Probably the one place that really stood out was Piazza San Marco…which should probably have been named Pigeon Square instead. There were hundreds and hundreds of pigeons all over the place. You just wanna stomp on them really….think pigeon sea. They wander so close and there are so many of them that if you kicked out, you should probably be able to kick one of those annoying things. As you can see, I bear no love for pigeons…but they’re unhygienic, fat, greedy and ugly. If you hold out a piece of white paper, you’ll find a whole swarm of them flocking to you, flying in your face and perching all over you (and transferring billions of germs to you), thinking that it’s food coz tourists can purchase a paper cone of food (at an exorbitant price of course!) to feed the pigeons (which honestly that should be banned). Now if anyone is into hunting…

Actually Piazza San Marco is where the Basilica is and is just beside the Doge's Palace and it’s really beautiful at night…also partly due to the fact that it’s pigeon free then. The cafes around the perimeter of the piazza would have tables and chairs outdoors and there would be mini stages set up with quintets or quartets playing lively tunes or classical music. It’s definitely a place for lovers then…or a bunch of good friends just chilling 8).
Image hosted by Basilica

Dinner was at this nice restaurant with typically huge Italian portions and I enlisted Michael’s help in finishing off my pizza. Between us all we had 4l of wine as well…except that the 2 American chicks and this French/German one got drunk and got kinda embarrassing as we walked around after dinner.

Piazza San Marco is pretty in the early morning as well…coz there are no tourists and NO PIGEONS!! Anyway we spent some time exploring the Doge's palace and visited the Basilica. Getting into the Basilica took quite awhile though coz not only was there a queue to get in, but we also had to queue to move from the entrance of the palace to the Basilica as there were heaps of tourists and it was high tide so you could only walk on the raised platforms they put up. During high tide, the piazza is flooded and they set up raised pathways for walking. Unfortunately, the pathways are narrow and there are few of them…much fewer than the number of tourists, so it ended up being more like a queue just walking along the pathway!!
Image hosted by Doge's Palace courtyard
Image hosted by Piazza San Marco at high tide

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