Saturday, 11 June 2011

Venice, Italy

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” 
-Maya Angelou

I've spent the last few days living on trains.  Since there are no direct trains from Croatia to Spain, I rode from Dubrovnik to Zagreb to Venice to Geneva to Lyon to Montpellier to Barcelona to Madrid...whew.  Transit is exhausting.

Stopping for one day in Venice was a welcome treat and a welcome rest during this period.

The tourist portion of Venice is actually an island.  Or a series of islands (117 to be exact).  A bus took me from my campsite on the mainland across a bridge to Venice Island, the largest and most visited island.  In addition to being a tourist hot spot, Venice Island is also home to about 60,000 people (another 176,000 people live on the mainland, and 31,000 live on the other 116 islands).

Like New Orleans, Venice Island is currently below sea level, making it particularly susceptible to the ravages of climate change.

Venice Island is crisscrossed by canals.  The canals are actually natural waterways that were enhanced by the Venetians with pilings and dredging to make them navigable.  The largest canal is the Grand Canal (pictured below).  I did not take a gondola ride on the Grand Canal because the price was exorbitant.

  Bridge over the Grand Canal.

Here are some more Venice pictures with captions:

 The streets of Venice are a maze.  Navigation is a challenge, especially on a cloudy day when the sun is not visible.  Bring along a map.

 Venetian masks are everywhere for sale.

Venetian breakfast.  Yum.

Venice Naval History Museum.
If you walk long enough on Venice Island you will reach the Adriatic Sea.

 There are some beautiful buildings on the strip along the Adriatic Sea.

 And more.

Oh, I wanted to tell you that I stayed at a campsite in Venice.  I have seen campsites advertised on before, but I always assumed that you needed your own tent to take advantage of the facilities.  Not the case.  The campsite in Venice (there are several on the mainland) had its own tents set up on concrete slabs.  Here is what they looked like:
Camping village.

The tents.

 Set on a concrete slab, you do not get wet or dirty in these tents.

 There are bathroom and shower facilities on the premises.  And even a mini market that sold alcohol.

The campsite was clean, secure, and comfortable.  And for only 11 Euros per night, camping is certainly something worth checking out for the budget-conscious traveler.  

I would recommend going the route for booking since campsites, hostels, and other accommodation are customer-rated on the website.  Since ratings are everything, I've noticed that the staff at these places usually go out of their way to cater to guests.

If you see lodging with bad reviews and ratings it is easy to stay clear.  (As a rule of thumb, I usually pick lodging with an 80% or better rating, though lodging with lower ratings is sometimes cheaper.)  I have had no problems with any of the accommodations I booked off of hostelworld.

Art in front of a Venetian gallery.

Rocking the Army PT cap for the first time since I slept on a park bench in Prague.

After Venice it was more train travel for this girl.  Check back soon for updates from Montpellier, Barcelona and Marrakech.

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