Thursday, 7 November 2013

Herbstferien Part 2 - "Just one cornetto-o-o-o..." (I went to Venice)

So, the after the Farmers left, it was time for another bout of Year-Abroad-Fever, in the form of a 14-hour stint on the German (and Austrian, and Italian) public transport network. No, I wasn't just riding around for the fun of it. I went to VENICE!

Just one cornetto-o-o-o!
After said-14-hour trip, which involved sprinting through Munich Central Station in an enormous rucksack (never again), 2 delayed trains and an ill-advised cheeseburger (just thinking about it makes me shudder), I alighted in the beautiful (and considerably warmer) city of Venezia, and was greeted by my lovely friend Esther who I would be staying with. After a brief stroll along picturesque canals and through winding alleys, we arrived at Esther's flat, which is in the main student square.

The next couple of days involved much walking around taking in the sights, eating delicious Italian ice cream, meeting Esther's friends from Venice uni, shopping, watching films, and generally relaxing and enjoying ourselves. We also stopped to peruse an incredible bookshop, which was absolutely crammed with books of loads of different genres and languages, as well as being able to boast its own book-staircase and indoor gondola. Fancy.

It's a gondola filled with books!!! You might even say someone had *booked* a ride in it... (sorry)
Having been to Venice before, I knew what to expect, but was still impressed all over again by the unique beauty and strangeness of its atmosphere. But, although the city is beautiful, I hear its quirks do eventually begin to grate if you live there long enough. This became evident on the Sunday, when we took a trip to neighbouring Treviso, and Esther was revelling in the fact that there were green spaces and trees, which were showing real signs of autumn. There were even real roads! (Shocking!) Perhaps there's only so much one can take of floating buses...

On Monday, we set off bright and early to watch the Venice Marathon, having hauled ourselves out of bed at stupidly-early-for-when-you're-on-holiday o'clock, and headed to St Mark's Square to witness this exciting event. However, when we got there, it was evident that there was no marathon and we presumably got the date wrong. Embarrassing. But being the enterprising young women that we are, we decided not to let the morning go to waste, and spontaneously headed up the Campanile (bell tower). The unusual lack of queue coupled with the very welcome lift (instead of having to climb hundreds of steps to the top - I'm looking at you, Florence Campanile) made the visit very enjoyable. Oh, and the views were quite nice too...

It's preeeeetty... preeeeetty...
Then, still flushed from the surprising success of our morning, we decided to go the whole hog and make Monday a day to remember by heading out to see some of the islands. Murano, famous for its beautiful glasswork, and Burano, famous for its lace, were beautiful and peaceful, a welcome change from the noise and bustle of the mainland. Totally worth the slightly nauseating boat-trip.

On the last day, we experienced yet more failure, this time in finding the exhibition from the Biennale (some sort of art festival), which was of the work of some Irish photographer. We wandered around in the rain for a while, occasionally dashing into cafés and another photography exhibition when the downpour got too much. The poster I bought while sheltering in the latter even made it all the way home on the train with me, somewhat surprisingly considering my knack for leaving important items on public transport. Eventually, we gave up on the exhibition, but we did end up going to a lovely but rather confusing café called the Reading Room. It was a sort of shop/living room containing a piano and an enormous collection of P.G. Wodehouse books, but did not seem to want to charge any money for anything. The staff there even gave us free tea and cakes, and when we offered to pay, just said 'no, we're not capitalists.' Confusing... But an interesting find nonetheless!
They had books and a piano and gave us free tea and cake! What more could you ask for?
Meanwhile I gradually discovered that all the Italian I learnt at A-Level has been seeping out of my ears these last three years. This, coupled with my having spent the last 2 months trying to convince my brain to think in German, has resulted in the unfortunate demise of any Italian language skills I may once have possessed, and led to many a confused look from café staff and shopkeepers.

I also learnt a couple more things during my stay. Firstly, October is graduation season for Italian universities, and, as a consequence, we were treated to several hundred thousand raucous choruses a day of their graduation song, which sounds like a cross between the seesaw song and 'Oom pah pah' from Oliver! Wonderful. Search 'dottore dottore' on youtube and you'll see what I mean... Another graduation tradition, or so I'm told, is putting up a poster of the graduate with all the embarrassing things they've done during their degree, and making them read it out loud, before throwing foodstuffs on them and forcing them to down a bottle of wine. Those classy Italians.

Another thing I learnt is that, when an Italian menu says Roast beef all'inglese, it will not be English-style roast beef, no matter how much it claims to be. It will actually be wafer-thin slices of nearly-raw beef with grilled aubergines and potato wedges. Nice try Italy.

One last thing: Never trust technology not to all break at the same time.

So the second part of my Autumn Holiday was a success, and I left Venice with almost all that I came with (but sadly, minus one camera memory card. *sob*). Until next time. Ciao!

1 comment:

  1. YAY just what I wished for, an un-sugar coated account of my silly Rachel's adventures in Venice. :D That un-capitalist cafe sounds so awkwardly weird yet awesome! And 'booked a ride'...oh dear, that is almost as bad as my 'TEA samples' pun about Wittards. XD