Note to self: Always, ALWAYS, do your due diligence before booking accommodation.
I caught the train to Venice this morning and in true Italian style it was running 38 minutes late due to “technical issues”. I’m becoming quite proud of myself for not breaking into an anxiety attack every time this happens. I know it affects nothing when there is no connection, but the old me would have stressed out for no reason.
While on board I had the urge to check on all my upcoming airbnb accommodation and somehow ended up reading reviews of the host for my Rome accommodation. I don’t know how I overlooked this in the first place but her reviews were not positive at all. I panicked, checked I was still eligible for a full refund, and spent 10 minutes finding a hostel to stay at instead.
Well 2 minutes too long apparently. When I went back into the app to cancel my booking I was only eligible for half now. I WAS 2 MINUTES PAST THE 7 DAY DEADLINE. I didn’t actually realise this until after I spoke with an airbnb rep, but they contacted the host and spoke to her and she refused to be lenient (ironic they got in contact with her so quickly, I’d been messaging her for weeks with zero reply).
Airbnb were amazing about it though, and offered me a voucher for double what I had lost. So if anyone is planning on using airbnb in the near future and wants a $260 AUD voucher let me know.
Refusing to let this ruin my day I stepped off the train, waited 30 minutes for the vaporetto and met my airbnb host at the Rialto bridge port. She was the sweetest, she carried my back pack, walked me all the way to the apartment (seriously, thank God I would have gotten so lost) and pointed out a gelato store and restaraunt for dinner along the way.
We got to chatting and I learnt that she has spent her entire life in Venice, born here, went to school and uni here, and now works as an architect on the island. I found it absolutely fascinating, especially when the local population has halved in the past 30 years to 60,000 and is diminishing at a current rate of 1000/year.
After walking me through the apartment and showing me how it all works, she kissed each cheek (twice each side, lucky I was prepared) and was off. As soon as she left I chuckled to myself, the apartment is so small I can basically touch each wall, the main bathroom back at home is bigger. It has so much character that it doesn’t phase me at all though, and it is so well located I really can’t complain.
With the delay, the boat and the walk it was 2:00 by the time I headed back outside. Having seen a nice looking pizza place along the way I managed to find it (more self pride – my sense of direction is dismal at best) ordered a slice of zuchinni pizza and walked to the Rialto bridge to stare at the view while I ate. Pizza was so tasty I started eating before I remembered to snap a photo.
The pizza place happened to be right near the Gelato place so I walked back from the bridge and got a double scoop. Gianduia with a salted pistachio cream and fig and walnut. Oh. My. Yum. The gelato was sooooo creamy and had sooo much flavour I didn’t want it to end. Hands down best gelato I’ve had in ages. The salted pistachio cream was so delicious, I saw them selling jars of it in the store, I think I’ll buy some as a souvenir tomorrow (food souvenirs are the best souvenirs)!!
I spent the better part of the next 2.5 hours getting totally “lost” (impossible to do really when you’re on an island). While I was meandering through all the alley ways that phrase “not all those who wander are lost” popped into my head and I found it so fitting. I knew that I would be doing a walking tour tomorrow so there was no real need to go and see all the main attractions. So I just walked, and walked, and walked, soaking it all up, taking it all in, and pinching myself every now and then to make sure it wasn’t a dream. Venice is really something else, post card views at every turn.
A friend had told me about this amazing book store called Libreria Acqua Alta that just so happened to be right where I was staying. After a few hours of roaming I realised I had meandered back close to the apartment and so walked to the book store. The little shop is packed floor to ceiling with books of all languages. Gondola’s and bath tubs are fulled to the brim with books (a safe guard against the annual floods). It was quite a sight to be seen!
After spending the better part of a half hour looking through the store I decided to get another gelato (benefits of travelling solo, no one to judge you or tell you no!) I thought about trying a different place but suso was just so good. This time it was tiramisu and pistachio. Yup. All their flavours rock.
A friend lent me his copy of Rick Steve’s guide book wherein he provided a guided tour of the canals. Keen to give this a go I bought a 1 hour ticket and set off from St Mark’s square to Santa Lucia station. It was an absolutely beautiful journey with so many sights. I couldn’t listen to the Rick Steve’s audio tour podcast though because we were travelling in the wrong direction. So I did something cheeky, I got off at Santa Lucia station and got on the boat going in the right direction to listen to the tour. All in all I was on the ferry for about 100 minutes. I’m glad I did it though, Venice is filled with a rich and deep culture that you can not grasp simply by looking.
You wouldn’t know that the woodem Accademia bridge was supposed to be temporary but the locals loved it so much it stayed.
Or that the first Venetian Jewish community were so tightly knit that they all lived together near a copper foundry. Not so interesting until you learn that the word foundry in Italian is getto. Yep, the term we all know for a segregated community known as a ghetto has nothing to do with the high crime neighbourhoods of America and everything to do with Venetian jews.
Or my personal favourite; the Venetian government runs the casino to keep the mafia at bay.
I don’t think I put my camera away the entire trip, there was just so much beauty to capture. What was totally mesmerising was the gold hue that washed over the buildings as the sun began to set.
As I stepped off the boat I realised it was aperitivo hour, or better known in Venice as cicchetti time. 4€ later I was sipping on a campari spritz and eating some yummy snacks – a sardine and artichoke mix on one, and a creamed codfish on the other. Delizioso!
You know you’re adjusting to the European lifestyle when you don’t start to consider dinner until 8:30! I walked to the restaraunt (totally walked in the wrong direction for 10 minutes) recommended to me and ordered the scogliera pasta, salad and 1/4 carafe of the house red.
From the first bite I was in food heaven, the seafood (mussels, clams and prawns) was amazingly cooked, the pasta was perfectly al dente and the fresh tomatoes and sauce, rich and velvety smooth! I ate every last mouthful.
One last evening stroll to burn off some dinner and it was back to the broom closet to write.
I can not wait for the walking tour tomorrow, I’m so excited to learn more about this amazing city and explore it further.
Buona notte! Xx