Today we are in Venice. The internet situation here in unusual, so no pictures for today. Actually it is only 5pm and there are plenty more pictures to be had tonight. Hopefully I can post pictures and more complete details of our adventure in the next couple days. But it might not be until Sunday morning. If you don’t see a post in the next couple days… I’ll see you Sunday.
Venice boasts of wi-fi hotspots throughout the city, as part of a city program called “VeniceConnected.” However, the service map shows that most of the service lies along the Grand Canal, and not down the narrow passageways and in between tall stone and brick buildings. This wi-fi signal is free for residents, but for a visitor, it comes to about 11 dollars a day. That’s pretty pricey – and just think, we are paying to use the internet right now so you can read our blogs . We are in an internet cafe and the guy seems pretty low-key. He’s charging us the student rate, about $9 an hour. And he needed a photograph of our passports! Many hotels in the city, including ours don’t offer internet. And many of the ones that do cost several hundred dollars a night more than our hotel, Hotel Al Vagon. As I understand this, and I may have some details incorrect, Venice has a strict terrorism law. This requires residents to submit ID, which “the powers that be” retain, and to logon to the internet, one must enter some code number that is sent to your Italian cell phone number. I’m not sure what all a tourist has to go through, but it is clear that they need your personal information to “clear” you to use the internet.
This morning, we slept in just a little later than planned and since I got ready quickly, Kellie said I could go down to breakfast alone so she could have more time to get ready for the day. By the time I got back from breakfast, it was just about time to check out. It went very quickly and we were to the train station way earlier than planned. That was nice because I tend to fill up my free time and make it to the train with a minute or two to spare, checking my watch along the way. Today, we got on an almost empty train and had 15 minutes before it left. We took out my laptop and watch a movie I downloaded called “Forks over Knives.” It is an independent documentary in the same style as Fast Food Nation and books by authors like Michael Pollan. It presented the decades of research and experiences of a couple doctors who advocate a no-animal products diet. Not for ethical reasons, but because of the multiple studies (anecdotal and controlled) which point to many of our health problems being the clear result of animal products). It is definitely something to think about, and I am interested to consider how I can apply it to my diet.
Watching the movie made the two hour ride pass quickly and around noon, we arrived in Venice. I was here for part of one day when I was 14, and I don’t remember much other than a couple key tourist spots. It was cool to walk out of the train station and be facing the Grand Canal. We got on the water bus, called a vaporetto, which is 6.50 euros a trip. My first impression was that this city has a clear tourist feel, and that becomes obvious when you see the three huge cruise ships docked here for the day. It makes me excited to go back out in the dark after the crowds have hopefully left. And I will take my tripod with me! I didn’t realize that this city has a Carnivale celebration but it seems that each small street has one or two stores selling ornate masks…the same ones you think of when Mardi Gras comes to mind. Lots of desert shops, lots of postcards, lots of restaurants with British flags on their menus, lots of American pop music (“Funkytown” is playing right now), stores selling “The Simpsons” t-shirts. But also cool shops like old bookstores, stores selling Murano (a nearby island) glass, map galleries, small cafes and, of course, gelato! And I also realize that my path today from Cannaregio (where we are staying) to Piazza San Marco covered a predominantly touristy area. There are miles and miles of turns and alleyways where one could get happily lost, away from tourists. Our wandering path to the internet cafe (which incidentally is right were we walked to earlier) took us through some areas that are much more off the beaten path, but still had enough life so it didn’t feel like being alone in the dark. I would bet this is one city where you don’t have to try to speak Italian…you can speak English all day.
Our lunch destination revealed itself as we were leaving the Piazza San Marco to head back and check into our hotel. Several blocks away, we can upon a café which seems nice, but not crowded. We looked inside and found a large case of fresh Panini and sandwiches in the 3-4 euro range. That is cheap compared to the tourist prices we saw at other restaurants (like 20 euros for appetizer, one course, and drink). This place also had coffee, a deli section, lots of candies, and wines. We settled on two grilled vegetable panini and two espressos, which were excellent. Then we went back to the hotel, and as mentioned, we will head out tonight to wander and take pictures.
Tomorrow, we are hoping to do a day trip to the smaller islands in the Venice Lagoon…Murano, Burano, Torchello….and rain is supposed to come in tomorrow night.