[Sept 12, 2007]
From Austria, our tour bus headed for Italy next. The first Italian city we visited was none other than Venice (Venezia).
Venice is famous as the hometown of Marco Polo, the famous Italian adventurer who traveled to China and served in Genghis Khan’s Mongolian court about 1000 years ago. It is also a central trading gateway between Asia and the rest of Europe. More recently, Venice is also famous as one of the main locations for Mark Wahlberg’s movie The Italian Job.
Venice is actually an island. To get here from mainland Italy, there are two ways to do it. You can either drive across a bridge, or take the ferry. Being the tourists that we were, of course we went with the more exciting of the two options.
He’s quite a looker, isn’t he? The girls were all drooling over him…
Why is taking the ferry to Venice more exciting compared to driving across the bridge? Well, because if you take the ferry, you will be able to see these…
Don’t ask me for the names of these buildings though. I don’t know what they are called…
The first thing that greeted us when got off the ferry was this magnificent statue, the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (The Victor Emanuel II Monument)
And then our guided tour began. We started walking along the seafront until we reached these familiar columns..
“See those columns there? That’s where they used to hang thieves who felt fine – freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional” – The Italian Job
Just beyond these columns, lies (Paul’s name for the places) 威尼斯大广场 Venice big plaza and 威尼斯大教堂 Venice big church, or more accurately Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) and Basilica di San Marco (St Mark’s Cathedral).
This basilica is probably the second most famous cathedral in Italy (the most famous one being in Vatican City of course). It has a nickname called Chiese d’Oro (Church of Gold), apparently there are some mosaics in this cathedral that are made of gold. It is the symbol of Venice’s wealth and power back in the medieval ages.
Unfortunately, we could not go inside for a peek. There is a limited opening time for visitors every day, and apparently we missed the timing. And you know how tour groups have tight schedule to follow. Shucks….
We then moved on to the next agenda of our Venetian itinerary:
Seriously, one of the few things that Venice is famous for are the canals and gondolas. Even though it is super expensive (I think it was €25 in 2007), please pay and get a ride. You don’t want to spend so much money to travel all the way here and then miss out on this once in a lifetime experience because you wanna save on €20 or €30. The long term regret when you go home is totally not worth it!
Okay, let’s show you more of my gondola ride. Each gondola can hold up to 5 passengers. This was 2007, selfies have not been invented yet. So, to take photos of ourselves, there are 2 options.
Of couse, option 2 is a higher risk venture. The gondolianer (gondola driver) needs to multitask between the camera and the gondola, so.. yeah… you know… your camera might end up at the bottom of the canal…
By the way, that impressive looking bridge in the backdrop is the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge), the oldest and most famous bridge in Venice.
Boy oh boy, when you look at this photo, doesn’t it look kind of precarious? The gondola looked like it might overturn at any moment. 😐
Here’s some more pictures from the gondola…
The gondola ride took about half an hour in total. After the ride, it was time to leave this lovely island. And by leave, I mean get the hell out of here.
You see, although this island is lovely and historical, there is one major problem that has already been mentioned by most other travel bloggers. According to Paul, this problem is not seasonal, it occurs 365 days a year. What I mean is: bloody crowded. I don’t need to elaborate, I’ll just show you some pictures…
Yeah, welcome to Venice! You are lovely, your buildings are lovely, your canals and gondolas are lovely, but you know me. I don’t do crowds, like, ever. So the one thing I most looked forward to when on this island was to get the hell out of here.
Venezia, grazie mille for the experiences, but arrivederci, and addio! We shall probably never see each other again…
On the other hand, if I ever find myself in this part of the world again, I would probably want to visit one of those sister islands surrounding Venice, like Murano and Burano. I heard they are almost as lovely, without the crazy crowds.