Campanile Bell Tower
I was up at 8 am today for our full day in Venice! After breakfast, we all got on the ferry that would take us to the city. It took 45 minutes to get there. It's not actually that far of a distance, but there are really strict rules regarding the speed of boats as they come close to the city. Apparently the waves created by ferries are actually eroding the sides of the buildings.
Another thing to be aware of in Venice is the prevalence of pickpocketing. With all the tourists and crowds in such a small space, it is easy for thieves to grab whatever they want. Just be careful not to leave your purse or backpack open, and don't flash around expensive jewellery or watches. This is also true of any big European city where there are lots of tourists, especially Paris, Barcelona, and Rome.
Once we reached the city, we had the option of doing a walking tour (at extra cost), or heading off by ourselves to explore. Venetian walking tour (11 euro):
Get an in-depth look into Venice as you walk through the little lanes and gorgeous squares of the city's historic heart.
St. Mark's Square
Our Local Guide will show you the monuments of St. Mark's Square and reveal the hidden secrets of the floating city. You'll also visit the Rialto Market - the traditional food market for locals.
Our group of me, Debs, Colleen, Emma, and Karly decided to skip the tour and go get lost. The best way to see Venice is to walk in any direction and just go wherever you want. No matter what you will end up getting lost, but every turn there are tiny alleyways and interesting shops and restaurants. As long as you eventually find your way back again, you'll have a great experience!
We did lots of shopping and I ended up buying two rings made out of Venetian glass and a few postcards. Postcards are my favourite souvenirs because they are very cheap, easy to pack, simple, and you can get them everywhere (except Albania apparently). I've made a collage in my bedroom at home out of all the postcards I've collected over the years and it's really cool to look at and remind me of all the great places I've been. I also bought a cashmere scarf as a present for my sister,
Carolyn. My plan was to get one present for my mom, dad, sister, and boyfriend, but I was having a hard time findin things that they would like (especially for the men). I really liked this scarf though, I almost bought one for myself too :)
We met up with the rest of the group at 12:45 and went to an included glass-blowing demonstration. I've been to a demonstration like this before in Victoria, but it was interesting seeing it in Venice. I would have liked to have bought some of the glass, but it was too expensive.
After the demonstration me, Verity, Debs, Colleen, Rosi, and Emma went for lunch. We found a nice-looking place and I enjoyed another Italian meal (this time actually in Italy). I had a margherita pizza, which was delicious. We didn't think it would be too expensive, but our bill for the six of us ended up being over 130 euro! Turns out they had charged us some ridiculous amount for the six waters we ordered. If you don't need "special, filtered" water that costs an arm and a leg, try asking for tap water at restaurants in Europe. Also be clear
about whether you want still or sparkling water. Europeans love sparkling water (I don't understand why haha) and unless you specify you will almost always get it sparkling. It's good to be careful when buying water in supermarkets too. You can always shake the bottle to see if you can't read the label. (sorry for the rant, but I HATE sparkling water).
After lunch we did a bit more wandering around, and eventually me, Emma, and Colleen split away from the rest and went to a mask store. I really wanted to get a carnival mask as an extra souvenir from Venice. They sell these masks EVERYWHERE, so it's pretty easy to find one at a decent price. We walked back to St. Mark's Square and got some cold drinks and sat on the steps to people watch. I think it would be really cool to see St. Mark's Square really early in the morning, when there are not a lot of people. Every time I've been there, it's always been filled with crowds and kiosks and pigeons. We didn't see too many major sights in Venice today, just wandered around, but it was fun. I'd already seen the
Rialto Bridge, and been up the Campanile Bell Tower before, so I wasn't disappointed.
At 4:45 pm we met up with the whole tour group and walked to our gondola excursion. Gondola ride (21 euro):
Sit back and watch the city open up on a gondola ride along the canals. From the mangificent palaces to the local's laundry strung across the backwaters, Venice's charm gets at you from every curve. Grab a bottle of wine to share with your travel buddies and toast the experience.
I highly recommend the gondola ride. No trip to Venice is complete without one! It is a little pricey, but I believe that is the case no matter who you buy your tickets through. On my gondola there was me, Rosi, Emma, Colleen, Debs, and Verity. They all had bottles of Bellini to drink, but I still couldn't handle alcohol so I had water. The ride was so relaxing, I just enjoyed my time in this incredible floating city. Our gondolier refused to sing for us though, not sure why. Sometimes they are grumpy.
After the gondola ride it was time to head back to the campsite. For dinner tonight there
Us on our gondola ride!
was an Italian BBQ, after which I decided to take it easy and spent some time sending e-mails and repacking my (ever growing) suitcase. We were heading to Florence tomorrow!
What did I learn today? Yummmm, Italian food is even better in Italy!
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