Visiting Venice

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August 12th 2017
Published: August 12th 2017
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So, technological foibles have struck again. After finishing over half of my Venice entry which normally saves to drafts, somehow I have deleted it. Since I am typing this painstakingly on my cellphone, this has sent me into despair. Alas, I shall try and recreate the former glory of ten minutes ago. So back to Venice. Venice was a both beautiful and baffling place. Navigating it, is like trying to send a drunken mouse through a maze. But more on that later. The first hurdle was dealing with our less then ideal accommodation, at a camping ground. It all started with the tent. The surface area of the tent ensured that the maximum amount of comfort would equate to zero. The two slat camping beds took up the vast majority of the minimal space. Poor Bex had to sleep (I say the word sleep euphemistically, for sleep would be putting it generously), with her sizeable camping back (beyond the cabin bag regulations, certainly...yet inexplicably it continuously gets through each plane ride without being checked) on her single bed. My bed was also not without drama. After delicately placing myself down upon the said bed, the bed decided to immediately break, because of my apparent vast girth, of which I was not aware of before. My self esteem like the bed was shot. A slat had fallen out, and after a quick examination under the bed, I saw that there was already a missing slat. The bed was doomed from the outset, sprung like a waiting trap. Upon requesting my "bed" to be fixed, the local "handyman" was sent to our tent to "remedy" the problem. The fellow spoke not a word of English, and despite several attempts to convey that I had not in fact sabotaged my own bed and removed a slat for shits and gigs, he proceeded to put back in the fallen slat. He did not return to replace the other slat that was missing. Needless to say, the moment I lay on the bed, it broke again instantaneously. Luckily, our first foray into Venice proper proved to be better for the most part. We were immediately charmed by the canals and houses adorning the canals. Everywhere you turned, there was a picture perfect opportunity. We set out to find the designated meeting place for our free walking tour. We endeavoured to use our map to find the meeting point, but encountered two rather salient issues. One, the map lacked many, many street names. Two, many of the streets themselves lacked street names. There were some street names, but not all. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it. So Bex and I devised a highly technical system whereby I looked for street names and Bex dealt with the map, an arrangement I was only too happy to oblige with as my map reading skills are negligible at best. Miraculously, we made it to our meeting point with time to spare. Our two tour guides turned up. We divided up into two groups, filled out a form (strange legal requirement which allowed us to do the tour), and set off. We learnt a fair bit about Venetian history, how people chose to appoint themselves as aristocrats of the newly formed Venice for example, and that every time you crossed a bridge you were on a different island, trippy! We saw the iconic bridge of sighs (the last bridges convicts would see before being imprisoned back in the day. Funnily enough, the bridge is a popular place for marriage proposals, as nothing screams romance like the bridge's history haha. We of course saw some pretty nifty sights also. The main square was quite the sight. There was even a cafe where Casanova himself used to charm the ladies. Don't ask how much it costs for a coffee there, you wouldn't believe it if I told you. There was also a rather uniquely lovely palace, and a rather tall watchtower. After fawning over the sights we continued on. Not too long thereafter, we had an assault on the ear drums in the form of one vexed and manic old man armed with a megaphone. This frazzled fellow barked into his megaphone the need for us to march down to the police station to get our tour guide arrested for operating his tour illegally. We knew our tour was legit, and continued on, perturbed. The old man harangued us all the way to the end of our tour. He did himself and his other "official" tour guides zero favours with his ranting. Negative publicity some might say. Our tour guide told us that these other tour operators charge 50 euro an hour and previously held a monopoly for tours, and these free walking tours have come about to cater to a different type of traveler,, the budget travellers. 50 euro an hour is extortionate after all. Upon concluding our tour, Bex and I learnt of the best places to get aperol spritzes and gelato. To those of you unenlightened as to what exactly this delectable concoction is, I shall tell you. It is comprised of aperol (a semi sweet orange alcohol mixer), white wine or prosecco and soda water. It is a very refreshing beverage. Our tour guide, Luigi invited Bex and I to have a spritz at his local along with his fellow tour guides. Not ones to reject an attractive Italian's proposal, we obliged. A few of the others in our tour group came along also. We had some good banter with a Russian lass, an Italian woman and a British chap. Two spritzers later, we decided to walk home before it got too dark. As you can imagine, it didn't go too well. The combination of two drinks, byzantine alleyways and having not had dinner meant we felt unable to find our way home with any ease. Eventually Google maps decided to work after a long time (and ample exasperation), and we made it to tjr promised lands (the bus stop). When we finally got on the bus with the , we were promptly sardined. I had the unenviable position of standing on the highest step on the bus in front of people and below me, and had to hold the air conditioning grates as to not topple onto everyone. Profoundly awkward. Lucky I had the most uncomfortable bed to collapse onto (collapsed being the operative word for that excuse for a bed). The next day we went to shower and saw a male cleaner sweeping the women's bathrooms at the busiest time of morning. Also, profoundly awkward. We spent that second day in Venice actually enjoying getting lost. Ironically, we seemed to find our way to key places with zero adherence to the map, go figure. We saw all the main streets, many secret alleys, and even ventured to the Jewish quarter, which was quite peaceable and largely devoid of tourists. We had an early night and another crowded bus ride home. Despite Venice's labyrinthe ways, I really loved the place. It's old fashioned charm, colourful houses, overpriced gondolas (which we avoided)definitely made Venice a worthy travel stop for all you maybe globetrotters reading this. Time to end this entry before another technological glitch strikes. Goodnight from me, as I write this on the bus from Toulouse to San Sebastian.

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