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Kristen & Joe in Italy: A couple days in Venice


After an overnight stay in Milan (the most memorable thing that happened there was when I accidentally sat in someone’s throw up on the train), , we headed to Venice.  Venice is made up of 117 islands.  It is very different.  No cars are used on the island and everyone gets around by boat.  Earlier this century, Venice started to sink, due to aquifers being put into the ground.  This has caused a lot of problems.  There is widespread flooding and many ground floors in buildings are unusable.  Tourists flock to the city, which has driven the price of everything up.  The flooding, as well as, the high cost of living, have driven many Venetians out of their homes.  When I checked into the hotel, I asked where the “real” part of Venice was since I like to go to areas that are more local than touristy.  He looked at me funny and told me there is no more real Venice, only tourist Venice.  I found that unbearably sad.


After we checked in, we walked around to get our bearings.  We window shopped and had dinner on the Grand Canal watching the boats go by.  After a while it got noisy as party boats started to go by.  This did not fit my idea of Venice.  I expected gondoliers singing and romance, not party central.  Later we walked to St. Mark’s Square and I fed pigeons out of my hand.  It was so much fun!  We met a lady named Nancy who informed us that this was a major holiday (that’s what the partying was about).  We followed her to the water and saw an amazing show of fireworks.

The next day, we went to the nearby islands of Burano and Torcello.  Burano is known for its amazing lace.  I saw many older ladies working on very intricate pieces in their stores.  I bought a couple of items I though some family members would like.  Burano is also known for its brightly colored houses.  These colors follow a specific system and if one wishes to paint their home, they must ask permission of the government which gives them a certain selection of colors they can choose from.  After Burano, we hopped on the waterbus to Torcello.  There isn’t much to say about that except it is REALLY tiny and we got there when everything was closed.

The next morning, after losing Joe for over an hour (he wandered off again), we went to the island of Murano.  This island is known for its glass.  We went to a glass factory and watched a father and son make a jar.  We spent a good portion of the day wandering from store to store looking at the amazing work.  They make glass EVERYTHING here.  It’s really beautiful.  I got a couple affordable pieces, again for family since it’s pretty pointless getting it for myself when backpacking.

In the evening we decided to take in a little more culture.  Venice was the birthplace of Vivaldi and we went to a concert featuring his music.  The concert also featured some opera.  This was Joe’s introduction to opera.  I don’t think he enjoyed it very much, but he agreed to with me again sometime.  I think he’s just humoring me.

The last day we spent in Venice wasn’t very exciting.  We had accumulated a few things on the trip and we needed to lighten our packs, so the first order of business was to go to the post office.  They didn’t speak English there, so it took a few times to get it right.  I also had to wait in the same line four times, but I got it done.  We looked for a place to get my hair cut and a magic store for Joe.  We couldn’t find either.  We realized that the islands have everything a tourist would want or need, but has no regular store that a local could use.  It gets a little boring after one sees the first 100 jewelry stores, mask shops and souvenir stands.

We didn’t want to leave Venice without a gondola ride, so we asked around for a good price.  The cheapest we could find was €80.  That’s over $100 for a 40 minute ride!  We passed on the gondola and went back to the room instead.  We lucked out with the room.  We have a small terrace overlooking a canal where the gondolas go by.  Every once in a while we even got serenaded with some Italian singing.


I am really glad that I got to experience Venice.  It was very different from anything I have ever experienced.  However, I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t experience anything of real substance.  I would not come back in July again.  It is hot and way overcrowded with tourists and cheap souvenir stands.  I can imagine how it must have been like a few decades ago before everyone moved out.  I bet it was wonderful!  Venice, I believe, is unlike any other place.

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