Naturally, the first thing I did was to take a boat ride along the Grand Canal, Venice's Main Street. The public transportation system in Venice consists mainly of a fleet of marine buses called vaporetti. Of course, this being a tourist city, it was expensive, but I wasn't quite expecting 6.50 € for a single ride. Oh well: It was also the most scenic public transport ride I've been on:
|The view from the train station|
|Gondolas on the Canal|
|The Ponte Rialto, one of three bridges across the Canal|
|On the way to the island of Lido near Venice|
However, since my trip was just starting I wasn't suffering from exhaustion or burn-out just yet. I went back to the main island, first to quickly see the main tourist attractions, then to get to know the rest of the city. I went past the Arsenal, the Venetian shipyard that was the basis of much of Venice's naval power:
After that, I headed toward the Piazza San Marco, known as the main tourist square of the city. Later in the day, though, it was populated only by street salesmen selling the latest tacky light-up novelty.
|The Piazza San Marco. The tower on the right is the famous Campanile; the Basilica is to its left.|
I made my way to the Ponte Rialto to see it and the Grand Canal at night. It was almost more impressive than it was by day:
Not hopelessly, permanently lost, of course. By that I mean that I wandered through the narrow streets of the city without any particular destination, with a map in my pocket in case I didn't remember the way back. This wasn't a problem in Venice, though, since signs like this were helpfully posted on many buildings:
|Of course, you had to know that "Ferrovia"meant "Railway [Station]."|
The following morning, my visit in Venice was already at an end. It was a very nice place to visit: The city is full of history, there are many things to see and experience among the beautiful old buildings, and the setting of an island on a lagoon is unique and interesting. However, I couldn't imagine permanently living there. For one, the same feature that distinguishes the city for tourists -- the canals and the location on the lagoon -- make everything outside tourism incredibly impractical for everyone else. I already saw how expensive public transportation was. Also, I spent much more money than I was planning on a single dinner: 30 € for a salad and pasta dish, with water and a caffé (Don't call it espresso in Italy or you might pay double the price because you sound like a tourist). Of course, I didn't get the chance to total my bill because the waiter didn't return it after I paid -- another lesson learned the hard way.
But all this was starting to become a memory as I boarded the train headed for my next stop: Florence, on my way to Rome.