Sunday, March 21, 2010
That's amore: Venice
Last weekend our school took us to Venice for a three day trip. Everyone kept telling me that Venice is a city you can do in one day and that we were definitely going to be bored by the end of the trip. False. You can’t possibly not have fun when you put 160 American college age students in a town that has only one piazza to go to for the nightlife. I’d say that about 150 of the 160 students were at the same bar both nights, including one of our teachers, Franz. I mentioned Franz in one of my earlier blogs as the tour guide who could talk for hours. Apparently he also knows how to throw down because he was the life of the party. We all had a blast hanging out at the outdoor patio since it is finally getting warm in Italy and I’d say that this was definitely one of my favorite weekends so far in Europe.
We got to Venice on Friday afternoon after taking a ferry to one of the 118 islands that makes up this town. Yes, 118. We learned that the islands were all just marshlands and that the Venetians brought wood from trees elsewhere in Italy to build platforms on top of the marshes so they could live there to protect themselves from the Huns. This seems like way more manual labor than I would ever want to partake in, but it made for a beautiful city right on the Adriatic Sea. These islands are connected by over 400 bridges and it felt like we crossed every single one of them over the course of the weekend.
Friday we basically went on tours all day. Very exciting. Really, there are only so many churches and museums you can see in Europe. The most entertaining part of the tour was at a museum where we had to have “whisperers” aka headphones that you put into your ears so your tour guide can speak quietly so as not to disturb the other museum-goers. These are also known as dead giveaways for tourist activity. While listening to our whisperers, some very strange man decided to latch on to our tour and try listen to our guide without any whisperers. He was just following us around as our tour guide kept trying to sneak away from him while we all just kept laughing. I don’t know why he was trying to listen in on the tour because if he couldn’t understand that we were all laughing at him then I have no idea how he would be able to follow our tour guide’s speech on ancient Venetian history.
Saturday we decided that it would be more beneficial for us to experience Venice for ourselves rather than be stuck inside museums all day so we opted out of the morning tour and ventured out for probably the most famous activity in Italy-a gondola ride. I had two requirements for my gondola driver: that he be wearing the typical striped shirt and hat, and that he serenade me with Italian love songs while we drove. He met the first requirement but told us that he couldn’t sing Christy and I decided to take over for that part. After getting through the first chorus of “That’s Amore” and realizing we didn’t know any of the other words, we entertained ourselves by waving to all the other tourists riding gondolas. I posted a video here of the multinational tourist groups we passed. During this process we must have been drawing a little too much attention to ourselves because the police ended up pulling us over for having seven people in the gondola when the max is six. We would be those dumb American tourists who get pulled over while riding a gondola. The police actually came up to us on their little speed boat to give our poor driver a ticket! We gave him quite a generous tip after that little mishap.
In the afternoon we went to Murano which is famous for its handmade glass. We took what felt like a 5 hour ferry ride there only to be shown a demonstration of glass making that lasted about 30 seconds. Then we set off to go shopping in the town. The shopping consisted of hand made glass jewelry, frames, chandeliers, and little sculptures to display on our mantel. This town had about 100 stores all selling the exact same things so 10 minutes and one small purchase later, I was ready to go back to Venice. Unfortunately we were stuck there for another hour so my friends and I decided to set off in search of a quick bite to eat. Everywhere else I have been in Italy has bars every 10 feet, and by bars I mean Italian bars that serve little paninis and pizzas so we figured we would be able to find something easily. This was not the case in Murano so after 30 minutes of walking around and finding absolutely nothing, I settled for a Twix bar. Good thing I got to experience more Italian food while I was there.
We got back to Venice for dinner and ended up going to the same restaurant as the night before, followed by the same bar. After the bar this time though we went to Venice’s only discoteca and stayed out outrageously late dancing the night away. According to my friends in Barcelona, 4:30am is still early though so I guess this was just a warm up for our Spring Break in just two short weeks. This trip is flying by!