I hate hate hate traveling days. On this Friday we had to travel from Milan to Venice, which worked out to be about 2 hours and 30 minutes, although you need to look into that number. We rode on a fast train, for 9 euro, and at about 280km/hr. North America is no where near as sophisticated with their public transit as that. We rode the train in peace as I wrote and Rebecca read.
Upon arriving in Venezia Mestre we boarded a train to hop, skip and jump to Venezia St. Lucia, the train station on the Venice Island. We, however, had one small problem. We didn’t have a ticket. We had our ticket that took us to Venezia Mestre and in our opinion decided that for the 10 minute trip there wasn’t much point in rushing to grab a ticket. We thought we were better to board the train and if we had to, buy a ticket on route, but we figured there was little chance a guy would come around checking tickets. We were sadly very wrong on that one. We gambled and we lost, and boy did we loose big. My original idea of pretending I thought my ticket took me to the island didn’t work then he gave us a price for the ticket we were blown away. The train was to cost 2 euro but for us it was 35 because of a penalty/violation. That didn’t make me very happy. After trying to have a reasonable conversation with him it turned into a fight and which point he wrote me up and Rebecca faired better and was able to pay her ticket on the spot while I am now forced to go to a post office to pay my ticket. My only issue with the Italian train system is that when they check tickets if they find one person without one they stop caring about anyone else. You become the only person on the train while the other six guys slipping from car to car get away scot free. Either way, it put a damper on our day but we soldiered on.
Once we left the train station with our luggage we headed to the main station of the Vaporetto, or water bus, to get a ticket so we could make our way to the Rialto Bridge, where our apartment was located. The way the bus works is that you buy a ticket which is good for a specified amount of time, the cheapest you can buy as a tourist is 7 euro for an hour. If you live in the city its a fraction of that. I stand by the statement that Venice is the most expensive place in Italy, however it is justified. It is beautiful. I however wasn’t fully prepared for how busy Venice was going to be this time around. It was packed. The boats were packed, the streets were packed, it was incredible, and I wasn’t ready for it. After our short but expensive bus ride, we had planned to meet up with Niko, the gentleman who was renting the apartment. All that went smoothly and he took us on a deeply confusing route away from, the busy streets to the apartment in the Salizzada San Lio neighbourhood, just a three-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge. We climbed the 4 stories to the apartment, which I will be honest, did suck, but that’s Venice. Venice is stairs. The apartment was very lovely. Our room had a great view over the city. The bell tower at St. Mark’s square in the distance along with the roof tops adorned with the clay shingles was breathtaking.
We quickly settled into the apartment because we had a full day. First off we headed through the confusing streets to make our way to the bus stop Fondamenta Nove as we were heading to the San Michele cemetery. I had never been there before but had heard great things about it and that it is a hidden gem. The cemetery is low on space and years ago they started to stack the graves on top of one another. What this has created is a very cute scene of elderly Italian ladies wheeling these large ladders around to be able to put flowers on the grave. We walked for a short period of time making a stop to find Ezra Pound’s final resting place, it wasn’t until later I found out that beyond being a talented writer Ezra Pound was also a Nazi supporter.
Upon returning to the island we headed on a scenic route towards St Marks square where we were due to meet up with a travel company to take us on a tour of 3 surrounding islands, Murano, Burano, and Torcello, each famous for their own reasons. Murano for its glass factories, Burano for its lace making and fisherman cottages and finally Torcello for being once a large city but now only having a population of 14 people. I had done a similar tour in December with my grandmother and found it to be very interesting so we opted to do it again. We boarded the boat and took a nice ride to the first island, Murano where we had the opportunity to visit a glass blowing factory and watch a master glass blower form two different pieces, a vase and a horse. Watching him work the glass is very very cool. Sadly it’s a short demonstration then they usher you into the gift shop and try and get you to buy overpriced pieces of work.
Next up was Burano which is famous for its lace and we had the chance to watch a old lace maker work but again then slightly pressured to purchase things. We opted to use the little time we had there to find cold water and wonder around them fisherman cottages, all multi coloured.
Finally, we headed to Torcello, where you are given free time and just instructed to return to the boat before it departs. We walked halfway to the centre before deciding we weren’t overly interested in seeing an old church and instead stopped in at the same restaurant where Granny and I stopped for a glass of wine only a few months prior and sat and relaxed and admired the beautiful garden. We spent a little too much time there and had to hustle back to the dock to ensure we didn’t become the next two residents of the island. Our boat ride back took us along a few smaller islands with pleasure boats moored with people swimming off the boats and into the beach.
Once we docked back at Venice instead of walking right back to the apartment we headed towards the park and street in the other end where the tourists rarely travel to and we took in a chance to walk through small outdoor bars and markets. I sat for a while on a bridge where I was able to pick up some free WIFI watching little power boats dock and the people jumping out and grabbing a drink. I wondered to myself how neat it is to boat to a bar and just sit by the water. Rebecca finally caught up with me as she was looking through things for her parents. We walked back through St. Marks back to the apartment as it was late and we found a restaurant which was not a great but still expensive, such is Venice. We enjoyed a pizza and spent the rest of our evening walking around enjoying a gelato on a bridge.
I fell asleep that night to the sound of an old man singing below our window. It was really something else.