How appropriate that when we woke up at an obscene hour for our trip to Venice on Friday morning, we looked out the window and found that the Thames had flooded and our road had literally turned into a canal. Our building was completely surrounded by water, and we had to wade through the water and jump over a couple of fences to get to our taxi which was waiting a block away. Although it was 4am, bloody freezing, and we were all barely awake (but jogging through Putney to make the cab that was parked a block away), it was really one of those times you couldn't help but laugh at the stupidity of it all :)
And of course, we were all excited because we were going to VENICE! On the whole I loved it, and although we had some questionable encounters with not-so-hospitable Italian hospitality staff and yes, the city is a little bit squiffy (and those pigeons??!) , I definitely recommend it to anyone. It is a beautiful, fantasy city, and getting lost in the winding Venetian passageways, crossing blue canals manned by hunky gondola drivers, and gorging on massive portions of Italian pizzas, pastas and risottos, and fine Tuscan wine, is just divine. We were there for three days, which I think was enough to see most of the sights (although I could have definitely stayed to eat Italian food forever). Piazza San Marco, the Basilica and visits to the islands Burano and Murano are a must if you only have a short time - and if you're anything like me, you'll need quite a while to sample the delights of the shopping (I was quite restrained and only bought one bag and some beads, as my budget didn't quite stretch to Louis Vuitton and Dolce and Gabbana - ah, i can always dream though). I think the most important Italian lesson I learnt was 'Quanto costano delle scarpe?' (how much do these shoes cost?)
The city is expensive if you're not careful. I don't even want to think about how much money I spent. On Saturday I almost hit a grinning little Italian waiter when he gleefully brought us our bill with my SIX EURO cokes on it. Who checks the price of coke on a menu? I had two, so in total spent 12 euro on coke, that's about 8 pounds and almost 20 Aussie dollars. I still feel a bit sick :) you can tell i'm still a little bit bitter.
On the plus side, we had the best hot chocolates and wine I've ever had and our hotel was the cutest little gem (see the photo). The thousands of pigeons in Piazza San Marco grossed us out a bit, but the view from the top of the tower is amazing. So I guess there were a few negatives, but dozens of postives to outweigh them. And it's Venice! No trip to Europe would be complete without seeing it and now I can tick it off my (very long) list!
My photos will be coming here soon....