I was too scared to go to the bathroom during the night for fear that I’d see some posessed child sitting on the bed. Oh and if you were wondering, that is in fact a step machine in the corner.
Thankfully we survived the night and were up early for the complimentary breakfast, ready to stuff ourselves as we often do at these things. You can imagine our surprise when we wandered downstairs to find this spread…
Not quite the hash browns and baked beans we’d been expecting and although cheesecake and chocolate torte may sound like a fantastic idea, it really doesn’t taste great at nine in the morning. I settled for some crunchy sugary bits masquerading as cereal instead.
For all it’s oddness, the hotel certainly delivered on location. This view greeted us on our way out of the lobby.
As with any touristic destination, there were hustlers a-plenty. Luckily for us, they all dressed in uniform so you could spot them a mile off and adjust your walking route accordingly.
Gondoliers. These guys are a different breed. Obviously we were going to go on a gondola ride. To be honest, we didn’t know what else there was to do in town aside from get rowed around the waterways. What we didn’t expect was the price – 80 euros for 30 minutes or 100 for 45! Ummm excuse me?!! We had to ask if we’d misheard and then tried at least three other people before we could come to terms with how much it was going to cost us.
While we were deciding whether we could justify parting with our cash we were approached by several striped swindlers and treated to an onslaught of dirty looks and gruff words when we waved each of them away. What’s weird is that they’re not even ripping you off – there is a set price for all of the gondoliers in town and they will not go any lower than 80. Believe me, we tried.
However, there is an alternative. If you’re not bothered about sharing your boat you can get a cheaper ride (around 60). Better yet, combine your gondola ride with a walking tour and you get a whole day of entertainment for the same price as a half hour boat trip. We picked up this deal from the tourist office on the wharf by the San Marco Giardinetti water taxi stop.
The walking tour was much more interesting and enjoyable than the boat trip in the end! We learnt a lot about the history of Venice and were treated to some amazing sights that we may never have found on our own. Here are some snaps Tom took on the way.
Aside from wandering there isn’t a lot else to do aside from eat, drink and shop. We did a lot of window shopping as we weren’t really in the market for masks, glassware or designer threads. Seriously, the town is comprised almost entirely of shops stocking one of the three. Oh and candy shops. Lots of beautiful candy shops.
More than anything, Venice is a place for photo ops. The entrepreneurs on the waterfront have cottoned on to this fact and as a result, 99% of street vendors sell one thing and one thing only – selfie sticks. We restrained from buying one but maybe should have invested after this poorly framed self timed effort.
After selfie sticks, roses are the next popular sale item. The ‘sale’ of roses provided great entertainment for us. We spotted them at work when we climbed to the top of Saint marks basilica (also worth doing for a great view of the Piazza).
Their game is that they thrust roses at women – literally they throw them at them so the men they’re with are forced to buy them for their sweetheart. I was startled by the volume of Tom’s NO THANK YOU as he spied one approaching us from several metres away.
I realise I’m treading into negative territory here but honestly, even the touristy bits of Venice are charming. The whole place is simply adorable and feels like it’s own country. We managed to sneak a peek at local life on the Sunday morning when we got lost and found ourselves down what must have been the high street of Venice. There was even a McDonald’s. It felt as if the city had been trying to hide that there was regular life going on underneath the surface of holiday makers living the dream. I liked it even more after that.
Venice is a curious place with loads of personality and I think it deserves a spot on everyone’s travel list. Mainly for the fact that it might not be there one day but also because it is so different to anywhere else. Oh and you can get sweet selfies there too.
Final sell – check out Venice by night. Stunning.