Looks like snow? It isn't - it's marble. Amazing.
Thankfully the train to Venice had Internet access as we still didn't have any accomodation sorted. After much searching, we finally found a bed and breakfast that was actually pretty cheap (given it's location in Venice). The guide book warned us that due to Italian laws we shouldn't expect much for breakfast - maybe a packed croissant and a coffee.
On arrival we grabbed a three day pass for the boats around the island (they are very expensive otherwise), and then jumped on a boat to the stop near our accommodation. without a decent map and given the random nature of Venice streets we then wandered around in circles for a while before finally doing what everyone does and ask someone. Venetians are completely used to this and happy to point you in the right direction. "Go down here, go right, left, right, right again, and then ask someone else there". We found our place and then went through a strange check in process which was done upstairs in a common room and had to be in cash. The room was really big, with a large ensuite and had a hand-written post-it note stuck to the door saying "Privato". Odd.
Leaning tower of..
Another wobbly building (this one in Venice)
Having just used up all our cash we went for a walk to San Marco square to have a look around and (eventually) find a bank. We were pretty exhausted and ended up wandering into a bit of a tourist trap place for a menu dinner. Venice is generally an expensive place for eating out, and the quality is not great. The spaghetti frutta di mare was good, but the fried seafood following it wasn't too good. It came with a nice salad though, which is what we were really craving. We managed to find our way back to the BnB and slept well.
In the morning we came down to the dining room to find a pretty decent breakfast (muesli, yoghurts, tinned fruit, croissants, juice, and freshly brewed espresso) waiting and our host wanting to chat a lot about Italy, Australia, and Nepal (where he was from). Chris was pretty excited at the possibility of real muesli as we had only seen weird sugary "healthy cereals" everywhere else.
After breakfast, we walked through the back streets over the crowded Ponte Rialto and to the Rialto markets which had a good fruit and veg section, and a
Looking across to one of the islands
seperate seafood area. A lot of the stalls sold watermelon by the slice ready to eat which was great for a hot morning. We bought some beautiful cherry tomatoes, mixed salad greens and then watched a large seagull swallow a pretty big fish head whole. For lunch we found a place which sold delcious panini nice and cheap and then added our tomatoes and salad greens to it. We also tried one of the popular local drinks: Ballini which is a sweet fizzy alcoholic drink. Yum. We went in search of some good gelati for desert and found one recommended by the guide which had some weird flavours (rose, pear, almond), and a Jamaican flag out the front. Strange but tasty. Deciding to do the normal thing in Venice and wander the streets we came across a couple of great musicians playing an African stringed instrument and a few different wind instruments (flute, saxophone and an electronic sax). It was really nice just sitting in the shade listening to the music - definitely the best buskers we've seen. After a while we kept walking and went in search of a cafe (mainly so we would use the toilet) and had
Venice by night
Which is a great way to see it. It's very safe too.
a "Shakolato" which is an espresso shot shaken in a cocktail mixer with ice and a small amount of sugar syrup. We ended up at Campo San Marghera which is a popular area for students to hang out. Three students were standing there wearing bathers reading out loud from a poster while other people threw food at them. Apparently it's a graduation thing and the poster they were reading contained embarassing stories from their own lives.
In the evening we sat on the water's edge as the sun set eating bread, cheese, tomatoes and salad and drinking Aperol Soda. It's a tough life. :) One of the "Things to do in Venice" is to see Campo San Marco empty of tourists. Supposedly if you go there late at night this can be done, so we headed over there at around 11pm. It was quieter, but there were still a lot of tourists around. Heading home, we decided to take a different route and ended up getting lost (which incidentally is the Number 1 thing to do in Venice). We finally got home around midnight feeling pretty exhausted.
After a bit of a sleep in, we checked out, left
Always love a pile of cheap herbs
our bags behind and went to do a few more tourist things. Going up the bell tower, and then into the church in San Marco were first on the list. The church was pretty funny - there were signs everywhere showing that you needed to cover your shoulders, cameras weren't allowed, and tour guides should not give explanations inside. Soon as we walked in there were people everywhere taking photos, guides talking loudly about the church, and people with bare shoulders. Oh well. :)
After another panini and Aperol soda lunch we caught a boat over to Murano which is a seperate island where a lot of high quality glass work is made. They artisans used to be on Venice, but to reduce the risk of a catastrophic fire they were moved to a seperate island. The glasswork was beautiful, and of course - expensive! After some food and getting vaguely lost a few more times we grabbed our backpacks, jammed ourselves onto a boat, and went to meet our CS host for the night - Valerio. We went out for drinks and met a group of his friends and workmates who were Italian, Greek, Turkish, and one of
the guys had just come back from Australia that day. It was a pretty late night, and even once we got back to Valerio's place we spent an hour or so chatting about movies.
In the morning we chatted some more over breakfast, said our goodbyes and caught a boat, a train, and then a bus to get to our hosts for the next two nights in Treviso.
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