Today started out as kind of a bummer but ended great. And somehow the night on the train was almost pleasant. That was mostly due to the revelation that the reclinable seats, which we had thought to be unreclinable on the last night trip, were indeed very reclinable.
The revelation came about after having observed one of the guys in our compartment pushing the seat forward, so that it reclined into a half bed. And since Zuzanna and I sat across from each other, we could both push the seats out to make a tiny shared half bed. So we could actually sort of lie down this time around, which was the first plus on the comfort-meter. The second plus came in the form of time, since it was an 11 hour train ride, we could actually get a decent amount of sleep, despite waking up frequently. The funny thing is though, that all of us young kids in the compartment did all sorts of tricks to sleep a little more comfortably, while the elderly lady just sat down in her seat and slept until 8 the next morning, no need for reclining the seat, having her feet up or shuffeling around. I only hope to be as cool as her one day.
As we arrived in Venice I had expected warm weather, a fairy tale city and small amounts of tourists because of it being off season. I was in for a rude awakening. It rained when the train rolled in and started pouring down about 15 minutes after our arrival. But even though the weather was bad, there were still SO many tourists. At first it seemed alright by the train station: the facade did look fairytale like,
and we were able to buy a three day transport ticket at a reduced price that also gave us reduced entrance to most museums. We took the water taxi to the Rialto bridge around 10 (since we were allowed inside the AirBnB apartment we had rented at 10.30) and with a little trouble in the very very confusing streets of Venice we found the apartment and the key.
The apartment seemed nice, and with a great location, the only problem being that there was no wifi and our own data couldn't reach through the stone walls. We left our bags there and headed towards Piazza S. Marco, getting a little lost but ultimately making it there. And even before reaching the square I was feeling stressed out by all the tourists. While it was still pouring down, it seemed that the whole world had decided to visit Venice at the same time as us, and hoards of tourists were making their way through the tiny streets, most with a giant umbrella in hand, ready to poke an eye out if you got in their way. And it only got worse when we reached the square, where it looked like a cross between an ant hill and an add for umbrellas.
At the same time I had noticed that as soon as you got away from the shore and the most touristy places, the buildings looked kind of worn out, with faded or no colour and crumbling facades. It wasn’t all bad though. Luckily there was no qeue at the Correr Museum, where we bought a ticket for four museums around St. Mark’s Square at a reduced rate because of our transport tickets. While it was a weird mix of archeological finds, old paintings, a little modern art, historic coins, the national library halls and most importantly, the printing revolution, the museum was really interesting and taught us a lot about Venice’s history.
Outside the sky had started to clear, only worsening the amount of tourist, although undeniably making the square with it’s basilica and other historic buildings even more beautiful.
We visited Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) straight afterward, where we walked around the incredible Gothic rooms, a lot of which were painted by Tintoretto, and even went down into the old prison, all if which was a great experience.
By then we had grown hungry, so we started looking for a place to eat, which took a few tries and a bit of getting lost, but ended up delicious and not too expensive (although quite another price range than what we had been used to in the other countries).
By this time the sky had completely cleared up (even though it had been forecasted to rain all day), and we decided to see a little bit more of Venice, away from the turmoil of tourists at St. Mark’s Square, a decision that definitely changed my admittedly rather pessimistic look on the city. Walking through the tiny streets and over the beautiful bridges, the buildings that had seemed gray and worn down seemed to have gained their own special charm in the sunlight, while everything seemed much more colourful, enjoyable and peaceful away from the big crowds.
We walked to the Aqua Alta Library without getting lost on the way, while discovering incredibly beautiful streets and alleys on the way, most of them now feeling authentic.
And although there were quite a lot of tourists at the library it was a wonderfully little quirky place, with piles of books everywhere and anywhere, even in a gondola and a bathtub, and outside built as a (questionable) staircase from where we had a beautiful view of the canals.
We walked to a square a little further away and continued over random bridges and through little streets. And it seemed that the farther away from St. Mark’s Square and the streets close to the Rialto bridge, the lovelier and the more charming our surroundings became.
After a little while of exploring we walked back to Campo St. Maria Formosa, where we bought ice cream which we enjoyed in the sun. We then continued on our journey to the other side of St. Mark’s Square to Teatro la Fenice and further, straight into tourist hell, to see the Rialto bridge.
But this time around I wasn’t as stressed anymore, having had a break from the claustrophobia of all the people for most of the day, and we quickly found refuge in a Spar, where we bought our breakfast for the next morning. Happy with the day’s achievements we went back to the apartment for a quick rest, before once again heading out, this time trying to make our way to vegetarian restaurant Fiumefriddo bio. We got a little lost on the way, but ultimately found the place that turned out to be super cozy and seemed to have the special Italian atmosphere - sitting outside in a perfect temperature, with a good (but cheap) glass of wine and string lights hung from the parasole.
After eating dessert we went back to the apartment, for the first time since leaving, not having to worry about disturbing others.
Read on: Interrail Diaries day 10: Venice
Previous post: Interrail Diaries day 8: Vienna