So last you saw us intrepid travelers, we were wearily rolling into beds in a tent outside Venice. We would sleep until our one other roommate got up and decided to sit and repack everything she had, at least everything that was very, very crinkly. But I guess we can’t really get annoyed at her, since we woke her up when we arrived at 2am. And it’s really just expected to have those experiences at hostels, cheap stays..
After she left we rolled out of bed and bought a few cheap things at the camp store for breakfast. The campground was large, with a restaurant, a pool, RV spots, tent sites, structured tents, and “bungalows.” What is a bungalow? What makes it a bungalow? I think someone just invented the word because it was so fun to say.
It took us about 15 minutes to walk to the bus stop, and from there it was almost a 30 minute ride into the city. But that’s all right, because if we had stayed on the city it would have been at least twice as much. At the campground it was only 13 euros a night, about as good a deal as you can find anywhere in Europe.
We had had a glimpse of the city the night before, but more like a “run-for-the-last-bus-oh-look-we’re-in-Venice-and-there’s-water!” look, not to mention it was dark. Now we started by finding a tourist info building and getting a few suggestions of where to head. The only problem about finding those places was, well, you have to know where you are. And Venice is very skilled at getting everyone lost. She winds and turns until you feel like a mouse in a maze, blocked by dead ends and guided by the sentient Maze itself. But rather than being an uncomfortable feeling, or trying to be “not-lost,” we just accepted the condition and began to feel rather fond of the city, as it felt like she showed herself to us. It was the first city that really felt like a person to me. We wandered and choose the streets that didn’t look familiar, and somehow managed to see most of the city during our 2 day visit.
It was rather hilarious to see everyone else in the city, because to a one they were also lost. Everyone was holding maps and looking at street signs and in the same boat. A big gondola of lost people.
Once you accept that you will be lost, for most if not all of your visit, Venice is a great city to visit. Yes, it was crowded in the popular places, like by the Grand Canal and in San Marco square, but then all we had to do was let the city lead us for a few twists and turns, and then we were walking down a narrow, pretty street that was completely empty, the noise behind us.
How to tell you of Venice? Honestly what is in your mind and what you see in pictures is probably 90 to 95% accurate, at least it was for me, except I envisioned the city a hundred years ago. The colors the Italians paint their buildings – yellow, white, and a sort of salmon pink – look perfect juxtaposed to Italy’s vibrant waters.
We mostly wandered the streets, popping in and out of shops to buy presents and ooh-ahh over what we couldn’t afford/pack. Gondola rides are 80 euros for a half hour ride (ridiculous!), but there are also short rides across the Grand Canal that only give you a few minutes to enjoy the trip, but cost 2 euros. So we could say we’d been in a gondola, in Venice.
And yes, some of the gondoliers did sing, in Italian as they steered.  Apparently when they get off work they all head to the same bars, so you walk past a bar filled just with striped shirts.
We splurged and ate out one evening – it came to 20 euros each but we got drinks, two courses each, and salad. And sometimes you need to eat more than an apple and bread, and try some local cuisine! 🙂 We also discovered a very cheap espresso-and-desserts shop when we had to duck out of the rain. We came back to it after dinner to split a tiramisu.
And of course, we stayed out late to walk around the city at night. It was gorgeous… but we both agreed it would be better if we were there with husbands, haha.
We only spent two days in the city before taking a train to Bologna, but we had a good stay. Venice showed herself to us, more than any other city has or ever will, I think.