There’s no denying that Venice is one of the most beautiful cities you could visit, and that’s why I’ve chosen to post some of my photos here. My experience there was less than inspiring for many reasons, but in hindsight, looking through the pictures I took there, I’ve come to appreciate how good looking the city is.
I was advised to find places to stay and eat outside of San Marco; I thought my friends were recommending I stay out of the main San Marco square, when in fact they meant the whole San Marco district. However, I booked the reasonably priced Domus Ciliota Hotel online which was located a few minutes walk from the square and based myself there for a few nights.
Unfortunately I’d timed my trip during one of the worst Europe had seen in a while, with extreme weather warnings issued in Italy and people advised not to travel unless necessary. I love the sunshine but the humidity was stifling and made it very uncomfortable to walk around for long before I had to stop and try and seek out some air conditioning.
Dinner on my first night was in a quiet, authentic Italian restaurant somewhere in the maze of Venice’s streets. I felt relaxed, excited about what lay ahead over the coming days, but I didn’t feel that again. On my second day, the air conditioning broke in the hotel.
Some of the staff were horrified and apologetic about the AC disaster and reassured me everything would be fixed as soon as possible. One staff member didn’t seem to care and told me (and some other guests I met) to go elsewhere if we weren’t happy but we weren’t getting a refund. I met a couple from Nottingham who, like me, couldn’t afford to just go and stay somewhere else, so they bought a fan for their room. I ended up having three cold showers that night just so I could get to sleep.
During the day when I’m on a city break I like to pop back to hotel a couple of times, shower, nap, recharge – but knowing I couldn’t do this in a stuffy and uncomfortable hotel room made things difficult.
However, I did take a walk to one of the highlights of my trip, the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. It’s home to a beautiful collection of modern art and sculpture, and I took my time there enjoying the Twombly, Pollock, Giacometti, some of my favourites. I figured whilst Renaissance art isn’t my thing, Venice was home to plenty of modern art which I could enjoy.
The hotel never fixed the air conditioning. The Venetian mosquitoes tore me to shreds. The medication I was on made my face swell up; I generally felt like crap. I went from exhibition to exhibition, soaking up the Kandinsky and Magritte. My favourite galleries in the world are home to modern art and whilst I can’t always explain why I like a lot of abstract art, I find it enriching and I’ll easily sit and stare at a Picasso for a while. I even found a Damien Hirst exhibition, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, which, despite being disappointing and kitsch, was housed in the beautiful Palazzo Grassi.
I found good food hard to come by. I would probably have had to walk to one of the further districts to enjoy a decent meal but by the evenings I was exhausted from the humidity so settled for local eating. Thankfully I found plenty of fresh bakeries so I fuelled myself on pastries and chugged espresso like it was going out of fashion.
There’s no way I was paying the extortionate prices for a gondola ride (most passengers seemed to be selfie-obsessed and/or bored with their surroundings) but I did take a water bus to Burano. I’d seen plenty of photos of this colourful little town online and figured it would be a pleasant escape from the crowds.
The story goes that fishermen would paint their houses vibrant colours so they would recognise them easily when staggering home drunk – whether there’s an ounce of truth in that or not, Burano is still a photogenic little town (also full of tourists) and worth seeing.
By the final day I was exhausted, and ready to move on to my next stop – Dubrovnik. I spent my last day in cafes, reading Game of Thrones and listening to good music. I packed up my bags and blew a chunk of my budget on a nice hotel by the airport so I could catch my way-too-early flight to Dubrovnik the following morning.
Another thing I learned is that the iPhone really doesn’t mind night shots at all..
All in all I can say I appreciate Venice and what it has to offer in terms of architecture and art but I won’t be rushing back, especially not during the summer holidays. Tomorrow I’m visiting another new country – Morocco – which will hopefully inspire my next blog post.