We left Milan via its Central Station, a beautiful building that was apparently a creation of Mussolini’s, to head towards Venice. Boarding TrenItalia, I noted with sadness that we were sharing our train car with a large tour group of older Brits, and would be sharing our seating space with a couple from that group. So much for a peaceful train ride, right?
Actually, the couple (Caroline & Bruce) were very nice people who lived south of London and gave us their email address should we ever travel their way. But anyhow, in about 2.5 hours we exited the train to the chaos that was Venezia’s train station. We now had to wait in a line of a bazillion other tourists to get our ticket for the water taxi, as boats and feet are the only means of transportation in Venice.
Upon hopping off the boat and wandering for a bit, we come to the alley where our hotel is located. One problem: there is a few inches of water covering the route. It turns out that at high tide in Venice, the water literally seeps up through the ground, creating large puddles everywhere. In Saint Marco Square, they erect elevated walkways for those waiting to enter the church due to the amount of water in that area. It seems that Venice will sink…eventually.
Regardless, we found an alternate route through more alleys, checked in and went on our way. We determined that Venice is a beautiful place that has been both saved and ruined by us tourists. There are few locals, and the restaurants and shops, for the most part, are tourist-driven. Large crowds are everywhere, especially during cruise ship hours, and we did our best to avoid them.
We didn’t avoid wandering the streets – at times on purpose, and other times by simply being lost. Navigation is not simple by any means, but at end of the day it’s okay. It’s part of the Venetian charm. And as you wander, you cross the canals with gondolas rowing by, occupied by smiling tourists.
But we didn’t do the gondola ride. It was 80 Euros, but that was the determining factor. We had discussed going on our second afternoon, the same afternoon we stopped for gelato and Aaron’s “mint” gelato somehow contained nuts. Cross three hours off the clock – we had to go back to the room for illness and recovery.
I’m running out of time for all this rambling and typing. It’s pouring in Florence, though, which chased us back to our room earlier than usual, so I’m fitting in what I can before we get cleaned up and search for dinner. Back to the main topic: Venice is beautiful and unique, there’s certainly no doubt about that. But it is very much a tourists’ city, and you have to be willing to wander off the beaten path to find its charm. We left Venice Tuesday morning, bound for where I sit now – Florence.