Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Venice, Part I

Venice is exactly as you imagine it to be. Long winding canals, gothic architecture (think the Doge’s Palace), cobblestone streets and gondolas being maneuvered by gondoliers in black and white striped t-shirts and wide-brimmed straw hats. I was fortunate enough to be in Venice during the Biennale, one of the biggest events on the art calendar, where artists from all over the world exhibit their work in the hope of winning the impressive Golden Lion award. I would have loved to be able to see more exhibitions but with only two days in Venice, I was limited to what I could see. From the airport, we had to travel on a vaporetti (a water bus) to get to where we were staying, which was a stone’s throw away from St Mark’s Square. During the day, chaos reigned, as thousands of eager tourists surfaced from their hotels like busy little ants. The queue to get into St Mark’s Basilica coiled like a snake around the Doge’s Palace. We got to the Basilica two hours early to avoid the wait and boy, was it worth getting up early for. The sweltering day gave way to a cool night. St Mark’s Square lit up and several orchestras started playing at the restaurants on the perimeter of the square, each competing for the attention of passersby. I love Venice at night. It’s really quite magical. These and many more, are the amazing things about Venice. I wouldn’t be doing my journalism lecturers justice if I didn’t mention the bad things as well. Firstly, the Venetians are extremely rude. I think I can count on one hand how many of them were actually friendly. They make you feel quite unwelcome. Sad, but true. Secondly, the food was pretty damn awful. Mentioning Italian food conjures images of mouthwatering pizza and pasta but alas, neither lived up to their reputation. The gelato, however, was delicious; I’ll give it to them. Lastly, Venice was incredibly expensive. Most restaurants have a cover charge, which means that you pay to sit down at the restaurant and eat bread that you actually do not want. A margarita pizza was about 10 euros. That’s a whopping R100 for us poor South Africans. The cheapest gelato we came across was 2 euros per scoop (R20). The moral of the story is, if you want to visit Venice, you had better save those hard-earned monies of yours. 

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