Published: May 31st 2008May 30th 2008
Another entry written without internet. Hopefully these get posted soon.
Today was a Venice day. Yesterday was travel.
Venice started out a bit disappointing for me-- for some reason I had it pictured in my head as a lot more... "quaint". But it fixed itself pretty quickly as I escaped the tourist traps while I wandered randomly. I decided that I wouldn't even use a map today, instead just randomly wandering in a general direction (east) until I hit large water, and then going north and back west again. As the streets get smaller, the image matches what I had expected a lot more, narrow with worn walls and flowers/clothes draped everywhere.
The rivers here are used seemingly interchangably with the paved streets. And cars can only access a very small part of Venice, so the noats get used like taxis and buses all over (not to mention the tourist trap, ridiculously-priced gonolas). You can even see auto shops for boats here and there. The have signs with little gondola men on them in the streets and traffic signs in the rivers, for crying out loud.
The bridges in this city are like choke points, since they
seemed to be completely okay with there being random dead ends everywhere in Venice-- which I discovered to be quite the annoyance during my random-ish walk. Some of the bridges are quite nice though.
Walking through the city, you see a large number of art shops, either for paintings or for glass. Glass is apparently something Venice is known for-- there's an entire island for glassmakers, Murano, which I didnòt get to see. I bought a little family of glass bunnies here as souvenier :) one show was giving free demonstrations, one of which I got on video if I could upload them...
I also got to browse some random music exhibit, with some instruments I had never seen before (a hurdy-gurdy?) and an exploded view of a violin. And nobody yelling "no pho to" at me.
You also get the same feeling of something interesting being around every corner that seems to be the rule in Italian towns, although I've seen too many of most of these things (churches, fountains, towers etc) to really claim I felt any awe. There is one exception though-- the Plaza of San Marco. This place is huge considering how utterly
cramped the rest of Venice is. What's really cool is that I had worked with images and models of this place quite a bit during my work in computer vision without even realizing what it was, so seeing it in person was cool. The place was also choked with birds, which would climb all over you (literally) if you offered bread-- intentionally or not. I got a really cool video of myself being ganked by birds that I will be sure to upload.
I browsed the stores for a bit, since I decided I needed a hat to avoid skin cancer and I want to try to coat the hat with patches for each country I visit (didnòt get the exact hat I wanted since they didn't have it in my size, but I'll manage). And then walked towards the only large clump of trees I'd seen in Venice. The trees held a couple of parks, the first was your typical flowers-fountains-benches affair, but the second was strange. It held a bunch of empty buildings, each dedicated to a different country. The idea was cool, but the place was so in disrepair and so dirty that any charm it
should have had was wasted. I don't know if they plan on cleaning it up again, but otherwise it's the biggest waste of real estate ever in such a crowded place. Took me too long to find The USA's building too :p
Some more random wandering and I finally found something I'd been looking for for a while-- an Italian candy store. Bought myself a huge liquorice stick and a big block of lemon torrone, as well as a little something for home.
After some more random wandering and eating dinner (apparently "fish" here can mean squid, bleh), I headed home early since the place I'm currentlòy staying at gave me a free upgrade to a sinlge, and I really need the rest. Next is Austria, starting in Vienna. I'm already starting to miss the US so hopefully when Brent joins up in Switzerland that shakes things up a bit :) I should hopefully have regular internet again for a while so hopefully there will be no more chunks of downtime for this blog for a bit.
There are more photos below