I left off on our European adventure talking about Paris. After Paris we caught a flight to Venice. Our trip was planned in such a way that we only had a few hours to experience this bucket list city.
Venice is beautiful and quaint but has been more than a little tainted by tourism. I was sad to see a tourist shop around every corner selling t-shirts, mugs, and keychains. I wanted the more authentic experience; but sadly that was really hard to find.
We were hungry so we sat down at a little cafe with tables along the canal and ordered some pizza and wine. Some little birds kept flying up to us and we fed them parmesan cheese out of our hands.
The gondolas cut through the water and we could hear the gondoliers singing as they steered the boats. It all felt very idyllic. Our waiter was hilarious and kept calling Sam “Devil”. He was a bit of a flirt but we enjoyed chatting with him.
Venice feels so romantically cliché until you remember that the beautiful canals are actually the town’s sewage system. As we sat and sipped at our wine, nothing quite killed the mood like watching some guy throw his dog’s turd into the water. How beautiful.
With only a few hours to kill we paid our tab and walked along the bridges and alleyways of Venice. There were a menagerie of colorful shutters and doors everywhere and I was captivated by them.
We were assaulted a number of times by street venders. One man trying to sell roses was particularly bad. He came up and gave each of the girls a rose acting like it was a gift. We told him we didn’t have any money to pay him and he said anything would do. Sam and I each gave him a €0.05 piece, but Esther was adamant that she didn’t have any money and he took her rose back. Sam, Jer, and I thought it was hilarious.
You can’t go to Venice without taking a ride on a Gondola, right? We could not believe how expensive it was. We paid €80 for fifteen minutes. They normally charge by the hour but we begged him to just take us “around the block” so we could have the experience without spending an absolute fortune. While they definitely take advantage of you on the pricing, we were glad we took the ride. It is part of the experience of Venice and I think we would have all regretted going there and not doing it. Hence, the obscene overpricing.
Venice is unique and captivating and gorgeous, and sadly, it’s also sinking. Our gondolier pointed out to us where the old water level used to be. As we looked down into the water we could see stairs that have been drowned as the city slowly descends below sea level.
One day I would love to go back to Venice and experience it the way the locals do. There was so much there that we didn’t get to see but it was a fun afternoon that I don’t think any of us will ever forget.