January 15, 2010
In contrast to Rome, I found Venice really interesting. Perhaps it is because my visual image of Venice comes from the Venetian in Las Vegas and Macau, which is basically a repeating sequence of identical buildings surrounding a wading pool.
The real Venice is of course quite different. There are lots of different structures in different colours, and you can’t see the bottom of the canals! The imitations are really inadequate in describing the uniqueness of the city. There are no roads, there are no cars, and you can fall into the Mediterranean Sea if you stumble around drunk.
Perhaps my enthusiasm is a bit tainted because my first few impressions of Venice were: 1) Arriving at night when there were no people, 2) Wandering the streets before/after dinner with nary a person in sight, and 3) Walking the streets in the morning while everyone else was having breakfast. Later in our day, we ended up on the well traveled route between Piazzale Roma – Ponte Accademia – Piazza San Marco which is basically a mall filled with high-end stores hawking their goods to tourists. That should not be the Venice you should see.
The guides tell you to wake up early and explore Venice and we tried to do that. When we set out in the morning; however, we were greeted with a nasty surprise. Venice was overflowing from its canals!
Well we were aware that this was a real possibility so we prepared and brought extra plastic bags to wrap our socks “just in case”. It turns out we didn’t need them since not all paths were flooded (and they had “boardwalks” in the tourist areas).
In the morning, it was easy to just wander around the various alleyways of Venice to explore and get lost. Aside from a few churches/museums, there aren’t a lot of real tourist attractions. We went down to the beach, had some gelato, visited a ship building yard (no one was working), found a midway, took some pictures around the Grand Canal, and did some shopping.
Venice is supposedly a tourist city now, normal residents have no reason to live in the city. Accordingly, the majority of the shops we came across were fashion-related, restaurants, cafes, or souvenir-related. This was pretty apparent when we started getting lost in the SE part of Venice. Here, the buildings were boarded up and there were no tourists or residents. Strangely though, I did not feel unsafe. It just felt like walking through Roman ruins that weren’t ruined yet (I guess in this case, it would be underwater).
One thing I wanted to try in Venice was the Black Cuttlefish in Venetian style. They take the black ink from a cuttlefish’s bladder and use that to cook it. What they don’t tell you is that the eating the cuttlefish makes you goth!