Venice – the Italian floating city made up of 118 islands and canals. One of the most beautiful and most visited cities in the world. A city that I’ve been dreaming of visiting for a long time.

We arrived in the stinking heat late Thursday evening. Too hot to sleep with a mixture of mosquitoes that appeared to be on steroids. The little supermarket within the contiki campground rapidly sold out of insect repellent.

The next morning was better with cooler temperatures as the group eagerly piled into a ferry to take us across a canal and into the city of Venice.

Starting with a walking tour, I quickly felt very lost within a maze of canals and gelato shops. The way the streets and random canals and bridges are set out, it is impossible to not get lost there. Anyone that thinks different, well I dare you to come to Venice and test the theory. One handy hint though is that there are yellow signs on the walls that point the way to the main square so you can use that spot as your meeting point.

Venice is a beautiful city. So photographable. I took so many photos. The highlight of the walking tour was getting to see some venetian glass blowing in action. It is amazing how a blob of melted glass turns into something so beautiful so quickly.

The Bridge of Sighs. It is said that prisoners walking across to the prison directly on the other side would let out a sigh as they saw their last sight of Venice and freedom

Beautiful church mosaic with lots of gold leaf. It faces west and comes alight with the setting sun

Mask-filled shops everywhere

Just one of many typical Venetian courtyards

A gondola

Me loving the canals
I found Venice to be a really expensive city to visit. There are ‘no sitting’ signs everywhere, and the restaurants charge quite a high “service charge” even if you just want to sit down. A few friends who ordered only water (aiming for the cheapest thing on the menu) still got stung with an expensive bill of £10 each (equivalent of NZ$20). The food wasn’t terribly cheap either depending where you went. The other thing that people never mention is how the city has a bit of a stinky smell to it.

However I did try my first slice of real Italian pizza, and it was seriously mind-blowing. Best. Pizza. Ever. I regret that I didn’t take a photo of it but the taste will be burned into my memory forever. I did take a photo of my lunch though which was just about as tasty as the pizza.

Seafood salad – with real tentacles in it!
Another Italian food I am really loving is gelato. So creamy and refreshing. With the temperatures being over 30 degrees every day so far, eating delicious cold ice cream is a great way to cool down. The flavours are really different here too in addition to the usual flavours. A few of the different unusual flavours I’ve seen (and tried) include kit-kat, kinder surprise, milky bar, tiramisu, creme burlae, lemon, trifle.. The list goes on.

After a long day of sightseeing and eating gelato, I then floated through the canals with Shelley and a couple of other contiki friends on a gondola boat.

Sadly our gondolier wasn’t keen to sing for us. But Erin sang a lovely rendition of ‘I’m on a boat’ by Lonely Island. It seemed very appropriate.

Later that night was a contiki beach party at the campsite. It involved sumo suits, tug of war, a water hose, and way too much alcohol. My head did not appreciate that the next morning. It was good fun at the time though.

Overall I liked Venice but it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. I’ve been dreaming of visiting this city for a long time and I think that heightened my expectations a little too much. It’s been the most expensive city to sight-see so far, and the canal water was pretty murky and smelly. Souvinears are quite unique in the shops with multiple traditional colourful venetian masks and gorgeous scarves. The Italian people are quite friendly but there are a shocking amount of people with disabilities begging in the streets.

Final Venice verdict – Beautiful but pricey.


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