Welcome to my blog about Venice- A city built on approximately 120 islands out in the middle of a lagoon. Venice has around 150 canals and over 400 bridges and with no traffic other than people on their foot rockets it has a uniqueness and serenity unlike any other large city I have visited. The streets here are tight, winding and maze-like, chances are you'll get lost like I did but that is half the fun of visiting Venice. Venice has water buses and gondolas but the beauty of this city comes at a price as it is Italy's most expensive city and gets over 20 million visitors per year.
That morning we left from a dock just outside our camping site and hopped on a ferry which was heading over to Venice. Tamara and I had a nice talk about events on the trip so far and boy issues on the ferry ride over which was a good vent for both of us. Stepping out and into Venice was very surreal as it felt like a whole other world there. We met in St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) to begin another guided walking tour around the streets of Venice. The tour guide was so beautifully dressed and had an amazingly huge engagement ring which I couldn't stop looking at. She was a soft natured Italian women who definitely knew what she was talking about. I loved walking around the streets of Venice with her and the rest of the group that day. I learnt lots about the history of Venice and some interesting facts. Italians (politicians and famous people etc) used to attend 'Carnivales' where they wore masks to disguise their identity when they were gambling or at exclusive parties. This is where the whole 'masquarade' theme steams from which was interesting to know.
|Just one of the many 'Caravarle' masks on display in Venice|
|St Mark's Basilica in Venice|
We also learnt that there are over 500 types of pasta in Italy which is a crazy amount! She told us that Gondolas were and still are an expensive and luxurious way to get around Venice and were once known as the boat for rich people. There are over 800 gondolas which float around Venice (with only one female gondoloa worker) which are hand made and take over 3 months to build. Gondolas used to be used like a rendezvous place where lovers would go and meet up with each other which sounded a little promiscuous to me.
The Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto):
We also visited the Rialto Bridge which is the oldest and possibly one of the most famous of the three bridges which cross the Grand Canal. This bridge dates back to the 16th century and the arch in the middle allowed war ships to pass beneath it.
|Me on the Rialto Bridge overlooking the Grand canal in Venice|
|Me in St Mark's Square Venice|
|View of Venice from the ferry|
Venetian glass blowing demonstration:
After our guided walking tour Mia lead us onto our next stop-the Venetian glass blowing demonstration. When we walked into the showroom there was a man waiting with a large stick with some glass on the end. The room was so hot but the man must have been so used to working next to a hot oven all day making glass objects that he wasn't even sweating. He ended up heating up the piece of glass and making a pouring glass mug in a matter of five minutes. I watched in amazement as the Italian man blew the end of the stick he was using to then shape the heated up glass into the mug. He said that there are no apprenticeships for 'Venitian glass blowing' and that most boys practise with the help of their fathers or family members from as young as 10 years old. After the demonstration we walked through many showrooms of glass ornaments, jewelry, lamps etc towards a room where they showed us how durable the items made in this factory were whilst trying to entice us to buy something. The man even banged some drinking glasses onto the glass table to show us how strong they were.
|Venetian glass blowing demonstration|
|Venetian glass blowing demonstration|
|Amazing Venetian glass vases|
|soooo cool that they can make these by blowing glass!|
Venetian Lace talk:
We also watched a Venetian lace demonstration and I didn't realise the detail and the process of making lace was so intricate and delicate. There are apprenticeships in Venetian lace making as well and it can takes women years to perfect these skills. We also had the opportunity to by linen and doona covers etc at the end of the talk also which would have been a perfect gift for someones grandmother.
|Venetian Lace Demonstration|
After the glass blowing demonstration the girls and I enjoyed getting lost around the streets of Venice as we made our way to the markets near the Rialto bridge. We saw so many interesting things including snails and some weird seafood which were on display. We shopped for souvenirs, as we did in every city we visited and I found a cool little Italian Gondola man magnet to send home. I had made it my 'thing' to collect magnets in every country along my trip around Europe. Sally, mum and dad have put the magnets along with my postcards on the fridge at home which looked so cool in the picture sally posted on my Facebook. Tamara and Jess collected key rings in every city along the way to take home and we were always on the look out for the best keyrings and magnets. After the markets we got some sandwiches along with some slices of pizza and sat on one of the many bridges in Venice to relax. We watched gondolas float by and it was such a hot and beautiful day. We stayed there for some time before continuing to walk around Venice and as Mia told us to do 'we just followed our nose and our senses' in Venice after getting lost to lead as back to the main area of San Marco. Compared to other cities there wasn't all that much to see in Venice so we found ourselves just sitting around and relaxing in the alleyways and the sun and eating gelato until it was time for our gondola rides.
|Gondola men waiting to take people on a ride in the streets of Venice|
|Snails on sale at the markets|
|Seafood on display at the markets|
|Italian leather handbags in Venice|
|Eating pizza on a bridge in Venice|
Our gondola ride around the canals of Venice:
Mia walked us to where we caught our gondola ride and damn some the gondola men were full Jersey Shore style good looking lol Of course we had to get the old one didn't we...:( lol We had already bought some strawberries at the markets for our champagne which I was really looking forward to drinking on the Gondola. We put on our silly Venice captains hats, which we thought we quite funny and Rachael, Tara, Tamara, Jess and I stepped carefully into our gondola and started popping the champagne topped with strawberries straight away. I felt like I was in a movie or something as we were cruising around the canals of Venice for around 35 minutes in total. We saw many other gondolas along the way and floated past a couple who had just got engaged which was so romantic! By the end of the ride we were quite tipsy from all the bubbles in the champagne and were calling out 'Ciao Bella' to everyone and trying to make our gondola man sing Italian songs to us. Rachael was also singing an Italian song that she knew which was nice to listen to.
|Me and the girls on our gondola around Venice|
|Our gondola man|
|Me and Jess loving Venice|
|Tamara walking around the small streets of Venice|
|Tamara, Jess and I with a cute gay gondola man|
|Floating through the canals in Venice|
|We love Gondolas!|
|Waiting for our ferry after a great day in Venice|
|One of the many bridges/canals in Venice|
After a big day and experiencing charismatic Venice it was time to head back to our camping site. While the rest of our Contiki group partied I skipped dinner and fell asleep at 6pm that night. I must have been still feeling quite sick as I woke up again that night with body sweats, headaches and I couldn't stop coughing.
Love the Gondola Floating Backpacker