A tale untold until it has come time to reveal all.
There is no safety here, no net to catch the dregs of forgotten misery.
The urge to run from the pain is unbearable but without shelter,
There will be no barrier,
I will bear it all.
High above the clouds, she soars passed creatures that live beyond the chaos. She glides through clouds that hang over the land that moves under her wings. The clouds are mere wisp’s, cool on her face. Its vapour leaves droplets along the top of her feathers as she passes willingly through its cover. As she emerges the heat from the sun pours over her body, instantly evaporating the liquid clinging helplessly to her body. Something from below catches her eye. She dives swiftly towards the ground. The gathering speed drags back her face causing her eyes to water. Up here above it all, she feels free and calm but the closer she gets to the ground the more her body stiffens. Below comes quickly into focus with its buildings taking shape all around. Her wings stretch higher and higher causing her body to drag and slowing her descent. As she prepares to land her legs stretch and her claws reach out towards their target. She drops lightly onto the pavement cooing as she taps the stone under her feet. Her head bops back and forward-looking around for signs of the nourishment she spotted from high above. Through an eye she notices movement. It’s people. They are much larger than her and their bodies have lost their feathers and they cannot fly like her. That makes her feel sad for them at times but only briefly.
Three girls carrying heavy backpacks step off a ferry recently anchored. Others around them are gathering their things from the cabin crew. One of the girls head rests on another’s shoulder who’s eyes search through a map held low and away from the suns glare. They both walk around the pigeon absentmindedly. The pigeon’s whole body turns with them expectantly. The last of the three is munching on some bread and following the other two. She walks in the direction of the pigeon and almost steps on it. The pigeon quickly reacts fluttering its wings and waddling out of harm’s way. The Girl looks behind her tearing off a piece of the bread as she does. She smiles and throws the piece of bread towards the pigeon. The pigeon watches as the bread climbs higher before it falls towards it. The bread bounces a few times before rolling along the stone pavement and settling right in front of the pigeon’s feet. Its head swiftly plunges into the soft bread and begins to peck at its fluffy centre. The Girl continues walking with her friends towards the inner city of Venice.
My First impression of Venice… hectic. Sinking with the weight of all the bodies that scurry along its shore. The beautiful floating city has is overrun with tourists. Yes, I am aware I am one of the many tourists but being one of many took away a bit of the magic of the city. I knew it would be busy but I never expected it to be so unauthentic. So many tourist traps draped all over the streets. Our view was a city covered in ants. We made our way through all of the people crowded around us. We pushed our way through and made it to the people mover. The people mover is an overhead tram that brings you over to the mainland and back again. On the other side, we waited for the coach shuttle that would bring us to Camp Jolly.
Camp jolly is a campsite where you can book small caravan like rooms which depending on your price range can include kitchen fixtures. We opted for the cheapest room which had two-floor beds and a bunk that was reachable via a very dodgy ladder (Which we decided to not use after it fell down mid climbing). The camp has its own small supermarket that is way cheaper than inner Venice and a bar area. It also had a pool to cool down in. Overall, it was well worth the money but a warning if you are short of time, its a bit outside Venice and can take between 30 – 40 mins to get into the city from the camp. We were on a budget and refused to pay 200+ for a hostel room for the few days we were there so 40 mins on a bus weren’t all that bad for us. If you don’t want to spend time travelling in and out every day then I would recommend booking a room well in advance.
When in Venice take a Gondola
Of course, you take a Gondola! You’re in Venice! but it’s not cheap. The Gondola costs 80 euro for a short trip along the rivers and fits max 6 people. There is another option for you to get the gondola experience without spending a lot of money. There is a Gondola taxi that goes from one side of the river to the other and cost €1.70. It fits a lot more people on its deck so get ready to share the ride and this Gondola shows you how busy the waters of Venice really are.
We chose to do both. The 6 seater Gondola’s are parked adjacent to the many bridges connecting Venice’s many islands. The man who stirred the soupy waters of Venice, the captain of our boat took us through the river channels and gave us a brief tour of the surrounding buildings as we passed them by. He told us that all of the men in his family were Gondoliers except for his son who was the first to step away from the tradition. His son is one of many taxi boat operator in Venice. He told us that he lived outside the city because it is too expensive to rent a home there but his parents still live in the city.
To the Well!
Again we decided to take the free walking tour and this folks introduced me to the real Venice.
The tour started in front of a Well. And let me tell you now, there are dozens of Wells in Venice and they all look the same as every other dotted around the city. After comparing the site image to multiple wells around the city, we eventually triumphed and found the right one. As we waited for our tour guide to turn up we watched as a drunk man waddles across the courtyard with his trousers around his ankles before he gave up and lied by one of three Wells that surrounded us. We talked to one of the locals about calling someone to help him but there was no need. A small group of people gathered around him and helped him to keep his dignity. They pulled up his trousers and called for help over the phone. It gave my heart a little lift to think that there are good people in the world, not all is lost. The man was helped away and we turned to find our tour guide in all his glory.
A flamboyant man who called for attention. Francesca, a local and world traveller brought us around the alleyways of Venice. This was the true Venice. Not out in the crowds but hidden among the inside the cracks. He spoke about the Merchant of Venice, the famous Casanova, the Pope who slept in an ally during a revolt, what the support beams on the buildings are for and loads of facts about Venice I had no idea about. He was a fascinating character and very entertaining to be around. He had an interesting way to interact with people too. He liked to hone in on someone to ask them questions about why they thought the beams were there or why a corner was structured like the way it was. The majority of the answers began with ehhhh?… He also liked to pick a tour assistant out of the group to take over as the tour guide and direct you with information while he got himself a drink from one of the drinking fountains. I highly recommend you take the tour. It gives you a much better view of Venice and has lots of interesting facts about the city.
This is the remnant of a Jewish synagogue which was hidden at the top of buildings during the war. Apparently, they were many like this one all over the city so they could attend prayer in hiding.
Giacomo Casanova the most famous womanizer that ever lived. Venice was where he grew up and the building below was apparently where he liked to bring his conquests.
The oldest church in Venice is the San Giacomo di Rialt. It is located in Sestiere of San Polo. I feel like this church has not changed since its creation. I can see people from another time gathering in its courtyard to discuss the news circulated the only way it could back then, by word of mouth and not by the world wide web. Slowly everyone would grow silent. It was Gods turn to speak.
While walking along the streets of Venice we happened upon a museum. The entrance held a beautiful lifelike statue of a woman meditating while perched on top of an open flower. The museum showcased art and interactive installations from all over the world.
This piece was to illustrate walking in the footsteps of someone from a country torn apart by war.
Venice was beautiful. At the beginning I was distracted by the many people who came to experience the floating city like me. Once I got over the distraction of the crowd’s I found the true city hidden by its narrow walls.
If you want to visit Venice I would recommend waiting until the high season has passed.
The cold air and dark skies creep ever closer but It will belong to you and only you.
I want to revisit Venice and experience it in a completely different way. I want to get lost in her alleyways, I want to get lost in the stories etched into her skin and the wrinkles that cover her body. I hope next time I can spend a little more time getting to know her.
What was your Venice experience like?
I hope you enjoyed the post!