Ahhh, Venice. Well I finally made it here, five days later than I thought. Cold, heavy rain followed me from Ljubljana back to Nova Gorica, but a strong wind was behind me nearly the whole way. My bags like a sail, I managed to confuse a few car drivers when they were overtaken by a bicycle. I camped somewhere in Italy, and made a nice fire to keep warm and dry my socks. And the following day to Venice, was sunny all day.
Though Venice, considered one of the most beautiful cities, with an average of around 50,000 tourists a day, wasn’t what I was expecting. It didn’t smell (like some suggested!) although I thought it was quite dirty (understandably must be hard to clean 117 islands with no roads). The buildings are a mix of plain old, boring brick and stone, and marvelous Gothic and Renaissance churches and theatres. It’s extremely easy to get lost inside the intricacy of this urban jungle, with only narrow passageways to go down, some only big enough for one person, and most of the buildings three or four stories high, blocking out any landmarks. Without the sun, I really would have been lost. But I don’t mind that. It was the dead ends that annoyed me. You can’t walk in any direction without having to double back at some point, usually accompanied by other lost tourists. And just because it’s one of the only major cities in the world without cars, don’t expect it to be a blast in the past either, it’s just as modern as any other European city.
I did find it rather interesting though, that the people live in this way. The abscence of roads, means that the fastest way to get anywhere, by a long way, is to take a boat. Police, ambulance, taxis, even the buses are boats – which run as regularly as any other bus service (and the drivers are still mental, and they are still late!). They also have their own language here – Venetian – similar to, but different from Italian, although most of its speakers also speak Italian.
Nearly the entire city is built on wooden piles, dug into the sediment beneath the sea (the wood is mainly from the Kras wine region in Slovenia and the Velebit mountains in Croatia – that explains why they were so barren!) and is slowly sinking at a rate of about 2mm a year. Some of the buildings are visually lop-sided too!
So from here, I will try to find some cool stuff on the way to France. Although I don’t have a map for Italy yet, so this could be fun.