From Budapest I took a train to Vienna but realized that I confused the times and missed my connection to Venezia. Under normal circumstances I would be upset, but I lost only my reservation fee and there was still another link to get me there. I needed to go to Salzburg first before I could head south, but that was no issue.
In my coachette was a Japanese girl who had been living there with her brother for a number of years studying music. Her cello was dominating the available luggage space. Salzburg has a rich history in music thanks to Mozart’s parents, so people from all over the world go there to hone their craft.
I changed to my next train and arrived at a reasonable 8:30 am, ready to conquer a repeat country’s new city. The first thing I did was buy my return ticket for that night so that I didn’t get stranded.
Stepping out of the station, right into Venice was massive change of scenery from where I had been before. And it was hard to believe I had already been out of Italy for a month.
When either the cultural, historical, or scenic landscapes remain the same I tend to grow weary of it. Venice represented a complete refresh in every way, bringing about that smile I get when experiencing excited anticipation for was the day would hold. Here was an example of something that made me go, ‘huh’.
I ignored the map stalls and walked into the labyrinth that is the Venice lagoon. (Fun fact, the word ‘lagoon’ is of Venetian origin). I first found a little nook that wasn’t seeing any foot traffic, so that I could brush my teeth and change in privacy. I bring the idea of living out of a suitcase to a very literal level.
I needed to get online to download a map of the area and also catch up on a few other aspects of my life. I had to buy something to get the password to the cafe, so I went with tiramisu. On my first pass through Italy I missed out on a few of these things and was glad to have another chance. It was really nice, and quite different from the one I ate back in the states.
In a little piazza near the cafe I could hear some powerful singing, so I left my cafe comfort to go check it out. There was a guy singing classically to some background music. I understood none of it, but I sat to appreciate the culture of it. A pedestrian stopped to talk and then began singing with him a duet. Both were impressive, so I captured a little video.
From here I just went for a walk. There was plenty of time to see everything on the main island so to go along aimlessly was perfect. For a while I marveled at the convoluted nature of this whole place. The streets zigged and impassable canals zagged all over. Proper city planning was nearly impossible and development was instead dictated by the environment.
One of my stops was to a free art museum, which actually had a lot of really interesting pieces.
The next stage of my visit was to see some of the historical sites. Venice has existed as a state independent of the papacy since around the year 700 until about 1800 when Napoleon came through and conquered it. That is a lot of time to build some incredible things, and most of these were all located around the Piazza del San Marco.
My first stop was to the San Marco Cathedral, which is old and beautiful. The ceilings are covered in golden mosaic tiles, and the size of it all is noteworthy as well. These famous churches always let you in the door for free, but if one were to want to see more stuff, it would cost. I could have gone up a tower, and looked at the treasury and such, but I was satisfied to skip it.
The next stop was the Doge’s Palace, which is where the Venetian republic was governed for centuries. Doge translates to ‘duke’ in English. The ticket was not cheap, but I knew this was one of those things that would be well worth the cost of entry. The Gothic styling remains almost unchanged thought all these years, and for a while I just stood in the inner courtyard and took it all in.
The inside of the palace housed all of the administrative bodies and
courts in lavishly decorated chambers. The most impressive if these was the location of large meetings and is one of the largest rooms in Europe. The world’s largest canvas painting is in here as well, Il Paradiso. My shot was a bit blurry, so I took this one from the internet.
From here I cross the Bridge of Sighs into the prison building. It takes its name because it is through the windows that those convicted would last glimpse freedom. These cells looked better than some of the other prisons I’ve seen. Sighhhhhh….
From here in just walked around a bit more before going to the supermarket. After a day of avoiding the overpriced tourist offerings I was definitely ready for something. Cheese and bread, of course. This bread though was a full kilo for only a single euro. I was so pleased with my find, and was able to make it last for four meals. Who says that man cannot live on bread alone…
I took the advice of a friend and made Venice a day trip because I really think that is all that is required to get a good feel for the place. There were tons of museums and galleries that I could have been going to, but really saw and enjoyed what I came to see. McMao was a major bonus.