Published: March 28th 2012March 27th 2012
First glance at Venice
It only gets better from here...
Upon arriving to the outskirts of venice, whether by plane, train or automobile, you reach a certain point where you can go no further. You leave these mainstream modes of transport behind you and you begin your adventure as pedestrian extraordinaire. From the train station, you cross the bridge over Canal Grande. You start to walk down a slightly narrower street, and then you cross another bridge, much smaller than the last one. The next road is even narrower, and the bridge even smaller. This pattern continues until you find yourself in the middle of a fairytale. You are LOST in a paradise of winding canals and impossibly stunning architecture, both centuries old. But you soon learn that lost in Venice is the ONLY way to be in Venice. Follow the sea of fanny packs and baseball caps and you bypass the true magic of the romantic city. In fact, as soon as you see a group of these tacky tourists, you go as far as you can in the other direction. This is where you find the real venice...
Have you ever felt completely awe-struck? It's now two days since I arrived back in Biella after my 2-day excursion
in Venice, and the awe factor is still very deeply present within me. It probably always will be, as those were two days I will never forget.
Although I've absolutely loved spending weekends with my friends this past month, I didn't want to waste the perfect opportunity to see some more of beautiful Italia. I spent some time searching couchsurfing.com for the perfect person to host me during my first couchsurfing experience. I found the profile of a guy named David who had raving reviews, and he lived in Venice. This, I thought, was too great a coincidence to pass up. I sent him a fairly last-minute request, he accepted, and the rest was history...
David is a crazy breed of human, half-mexican, half-french. He's only 22 (like me) but has spent the last 4 years travelling, finding work along the way to cover his expenses. Needless to say, one GAP year turned into 4, which has now turned into his life. He once lived under a bridge (in European destination unknown) for 3 months as he had run out of money, couldn't find a job, and refused to return home. This man IS crazy, but as I
Streets get narrower
came to learn and love about him, a very good kind of crazy. He's an extreme partier who doesn't drink alcohol or do drugs, he can somehow make beats, peas, spinnach, carrots and bacon taste amazing together (the result of trying to use up all the food in his fridge) and he's also the friendliest soul you'll ever meet. Oh, and did I forget to mention that he also hosted 6 couchsurfers for one night in his tiny one-bed, no couch bachelor appartment? (more on this to follow) This definitely fits my definition of crazy. A crazy, but very special breed of human...
David lived in a a city outside of venice called Mestre. When I arrived at his flat to drop off my bags, I met the first fellow couchsurfer, a Ukranian man whose name i couldn't spell if I tried. Upon entering the flat, I was offered a bowl of borscht, the famous Ukranian soup that him and his sister made the night before. After my belly was full, we took the bus into venice. When I asked David how much the bus cost, he said "well technically its 2.50, but we're not going to pay". I
know how the bus systems work on this side of the pond...you choose whether or not to buy a ticket, and IF the super scary jacked bus police decide to grace you with their presence, you receive a 50 euro ticket if you are caught sans billet. We took the risk. The first of many, as it turns out.
When we arrived at the station in Venice, which also happens to be the final destination for any means of transportation equipped with wheels, we were led to a church where me met 2 German girls, Anki and Sofie. Surprise! There are 4 of us sleeping together tonight! These girls were fantastically nice, though, and ended up being my travel companions for the duration of my stay.
David and Ukranian dude left to meet some friends and I set off on foot with my 2 new friends into the abyss of canals. I'll let the pictures describe what I saw. I'm afraid words can't describe the beauty, and even the pictures don't do it justice.
At the end of the day, we met David and the Ukrainian at the train station. Oh, suprise again, David came hand-in-hand with
two more girls. "You're not sleeping over, are you?" We asked them. "Um ya we are, are you?" *hysterical laughter followed by blank stare* "yup..." 1 Mexican/French host, 1 Ukranian, 1 Canadian, 2 Germans, 2 Latvians...one bed, no couch, bachelor appartment. Life is hilarious!
When midnight rolled around, it would be Diana's (latvian girl) 20th birthday, so to help her celebrate all 7 of us ventured around Mestre until we could truly say happy birthday. After a few hours of walking, taking silly pictures and eating gelato, it was off to bed for an early start the next day.
So how exactly do you sleep 7 people in a space that small (with limited sleeping surfaces)? Easy...A skinny Ukranian, 2 petite Latvians and one normal sized Franco-Mexican can easily squeeze onto a double bed, and the more reserved Canadian and Germans take up residence on the hardwood floor. Bonus...we had sleeping bags to keep us warm! Those suckers on the bed all had to share one measly sheet! muahaha
Please don't misread me. I had no problem with my sleeping arrangements (although I can't speak for the Germans). In fact, I've slept in much worse places (i.e.
The perfect instrument for a place like Venice. He stood outside a giant empty piazza which really set the mood for some corny old movie dancing!
CDG airport in Paris, using my suitcase as a bed and my coat as a blanket). It was kind of like glorified camping, and it was free..so who's complaining?
Day two was much the same as day one...walk alot, get lost, stop and lounge in the sun by the sea, eat. Hmm, eating...that's where things got funny. Sofie and Anki wanted to have some real Italian pizza, but were on a VERY tight budget for this trip, so we (or should I say THEY) settled for a small snack bar way outside of tourist central. I warned them that if they want their pizza to be guaranteed delicious, its safest to go to a Pizzeria. To save a couple bucks, though, they chose the shady snack bar. When our pizzas arrived, they looked like they had been run over by a tractor. None of them looked appetizing, and they were clearly not fresh. This, I expected as I've had my share of pizza eating experiences thus far in Italy. The other two weren't having it though and refused to pay the bill. We talked the waitress into a couple euro discount, but still they were unsatisfied. In the end
we put 10 euros on the table (5 euros less than the discounted price) and ducked away into the whirlwind of narrow alleyways. I STILL feel bad about it. I'm not one to dine and dash, and it wasn't ever a true dine and dash! Life goes on though...
Unsatisfied with our lunch, we decided to try pizza again at Dinner. After a long day, we met David and the 2 other girls at a Pizzeria where we would share a nice meal together. Ths pizza passed their standards, you'll be happy to know!
After dinner, as there was a birthday to be celebrated, we headed to David's friend's bar where David surprised all of us with a Tiramisu birthday cake and champagne. This was followed by a 3 hour night tour of Venice (led by David, of course). The nightime is THE time to see Venice. As it's not a nightlife city, Venice turns into a perfectly calm ghost town. A completely different scene from when the steets are packed with tourists. Even those places where tourists seem to devalue the beauty during the day become serene at night. We walked forever, occasionally catching an unpaid ride
on the water taxi. We didn't get home until about 2am, but every blister and sore muscle was most definetly worth while. Like I've said already, Venice is magical (when seen the right way). Put this destination on your bucket lists, people, you won't regret it!
Enjoy the pictures :)
There are more photos below