Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Our stay in Venice was quite relaxed compared to some of the other places we stayed. There really isn't a lot to do in Venice and it's all contained in a small area close together. It's mainly gondolas, glass, masks and shopping, shopping usually related to the first three items on that list.

On our first day, the first order of business was to find a laundromat. We found one that wasn't self service and wouldn't have our washing back to us for two days. Fortunately as we were saying no and getting ready to leave, an English backpacker came in and told us about a normal self-service laundromat. We didn't have too much trouble finding it, and the machines were fast. While the washing was on we went for a wander and found a bakery/ confectioner who sold enormous meringues. We had seen large meringues before, but they normally looked like those grocery-store 'fake' ones. These looked like proper home-made meringues and were a bit cheaper, so decided to give them a go. And they were good! About the size of my hand, they were too big to eat all in one go so we had to save the rest for later. Michelle had a chocolate one, André's was plain and I had a strawberry one.

Most of the rest of the day was spent looking through markets and shops. We did the tourist thing andd went to see San Marco's Square, which I was thoroughly underwhelmed by. The buildings were all dirty, although it looked like they were in the process of cleaning them, possibly for the America's Cup which we saw being advertised everywhere. We found a great little place for lunch where André got pizza and decided it was the new best pizza he's had on the trip.

Just before tea we decided to go for a gondola trip. It was 80 euros, which was what we expected, and between the three of us not too expensive. It was late afternoon on a weekday, so while there were other gondolas out on the water, it wasn't too busy. It was very peaceful and relaxing and gave us the chance to see parts of buildings and areas we wouldn't have seen otherwise.

On our second day we spent half the morning first looking for a post office to send souvenirs home, and then when we discovered how poorly stocked they were, a shop that sold bubble wrap. We didn't find any bubble wrap so just used newspaper, but by then the post offices had closed anyway (about lunch time!). After having some lunch we bought ourselves leather gloves from one of the market stalls, as we had found a lot of places in Europe, while they might not be too cold during the day, can get quite cold at night, and neither André nor I brought gloves with us!

Afterwards we bought vaporetti (water bus) passes and headed over to Murano to see a glass making demonstration. I've seen glass blowing before but this guy also sculpted a glass horse for us which was impressive to watch. I was surprised to note many of the buildings in Murano look more modern than in Venice, and the streets are much wider with more space, and cleaner. It also seems very residential which also surprised me. We had a look in a few glass shops, and while I was surprised that a lot of the prices were not exorbitant, I also saw things for considerably more than I had seen them being sold in Venice. I might have actually bought one or two things if it weren't for the problem of carrying or posting them home! That evening we took a vaporetti up and down the grand canal for a bit of sight-seeing before having a late dinner at a restaurant right near our hotel. It seemed a bit touristy and pretty empty, but it was late and a lot of other places were closing! The food was good though.

The next day we moved on to Salzburg. We were having problems figuring out the connections online, so the day before we dropped by the train station to get a staff member to help us book the right trains. We ended up having to get a monorail from the main Venice train station to a larger transport depot, from which point we got on a bus to Villach in Austria.

When we arrived in Villach we spotted a post office, so I went in to send the parcel of presents and souvenirs while Michelle and André went to look for some lunch, agreeing to meet on the train platform. I sent off the parcel no problem, and headed back to the train station. I found the right platform, with our train already there, and waited for André and Michelle. And waited. And watched the hands on the clock tick by. Departure time. Doors began to close. I heard somebody yell, and saw Michelle and André running from the other end of the platform. I ran towards them, we hit the button on the closest door and it opened for us. Jumped on and the train began moving about one minute later as we walked through the train to find our correct carriage and seats!