Sunday, 21 September 2008

overwhelmingly underwhelmed.

First impression of Venice? It stinks like the sewage they pour into the canals. After 3 days my impression has softened a little to concede that in parts it is quite pretty, but it is still not going down as the highlight of this trip.

The first day went awfully - everything that could've gone wrong did (with the possibly exeption that I didn't die of a stroke on the plane like I thought I would). The short story: 2 hours in the airport trying to get on the bus which we were overcharged for and yelled at about, mum nearly got locked in the luggage compartment under the bus, the toilet in the B&B overflowed, on our hostesses' advice we got stuck in tourist hell for a few hours, on the way home we got really lost from the bus and ended up stranded in the dark in a carpark on the side of a highway. Yes, that is the short version. Venetians are the rudest people I've ever come across, and I can literally count the number of people who've so much as smiled at us on one hand. They range from agressive (the really bad) to just plain sullen (the relatively good). To top it all off my camera has fully packed up and (all of a sudden) refuses to even turn on. I think maybe it's just Venice working its magic. Now I am using mum's for the rest of the trip, and all my photos are turning out grey and out of focus. Urgh.

Yesterday we got out of Venice proper after not enjoying our first day's taste of it. We visited the island of Murano which was basically the same only a bit better because it was less completely overrun by tourists. We had a nice lunch in the sun on the canalside, wandered through the pretty backstreets a little, and after seeing approximatly eleventy billion shops full of tack, managed to find some nice locally made perfume bottles.

Somewhere in there we also caught the waterbus around the grand canal at sunset which was admittedly rather magical, although somewhat marred by the old English lady who kept elbowing me in the head.

Today we tackled Venice again, but this time wandered around the further edges where everything was less touristy. (Notice I say 'less'. It's still mega-touristy, just not Christmas-eve-in-Rundle-Mall INSANE like the middle). We had a few points of reference to visit (a gelati shop, a glove shop, a bead shop, the shipyards) of which we managed to find two, although we didn't really get that lost, I maintain it was more that things weren't where they were supposed to be. Have I mentioned the complete rabbit warren that this place is? It's nutso, half the streets don't have names just numbers and I don't even know how the posties do it. The gelati shop was very nice, but no better than Cibo, and I did buy some extremely lovely soft leather gloves. We also had a super delicious lunch (even after our hostess helpfully told us 'there are no nice places to eat in Venice') - I had black pasta with prawns and roasted tomatoes with a rocket/garlic/oil sauce. Nom nom nom.

Actually this trip is making me realise exactly how influenced Australia is by Italian culture. In some ways I feel more at home here than I have anywhere else because so much feels familiar, and I also think that the migrants must've brought the best of their culture with them (and left the tools at home), becuase every lovely thing I've had has been comparable to the best I've had at home. I am talking about food here again, of course...

There are pretty parts of Venice - it is admittedly awesomely cool being in a city with water instead of roads, and no cars at all, and many of the buildings and views are ridiculously sweet, with the candystriped pole boat parking bays, the painted walls, and the rooftop gardens. However, it's dirty, stinky and the people are totally repulsive. The hidden corners are lovely, and I'm glad I've seen it, but on balance I'm not sure the visit is worth the grief.

Tomorrow we're getting out and going on a day trip - maybe to Padua. Hopefully that will be better.


Lauren said...

Aw man, I'm sorry Venice isn't being good to you. I loved it, but I think that's mostly because we did a lot of wandering through the quiet parts where there was time and space to appreciate the beauty.

Campo Santa Margarita has awesomely good and cheap pizza and fabulous gelati, and tourists generally don't go there. :)

m∃ said...

Jeez, man! You're up early!

Yes, we found today much more enjoyable and we were in the quiet(er) parts. But that's almost a good lesson to learn for any city...just exponentially so for Venice.