Today I broke my shoes. Well, kind of. The insole decided it didn’t like being anchored to the sole and thought it might be entertaining to make a break for freedom via the ankle. I’ll re-secure it when I get home.
The reason for the shoe destriction was a huge amount of walking. After the short bus journey from the hotel, over the bridge and into Venice City, we nominated “east” as the direction of travel and started off.
Venice isn’t really that big. It’s possible to walk from end to end of the majority of it in a couple of hours, if that, with the exception of a couple of outlying islands it takes a short boat trip to reach. We didn’t have any kind of plan, just wander around and soak the place up.
The first thing I noticed with Venice is that there are approximately six different shops which are replicated infinitely like some kind of 16th century kaleidoscope. As a result, it does get a little wearing walking past yet another papier-mache mask retailer, or someone else selling “genuine” Murano glasswork. Most of the stuff’s not bad, though obviously overpriced. If you do want to shop here – and most will – then compare merchandise and prices from area to area. Certain regions are far more expensive than others for the exact same goods. And don’t be afraid to haggle a little, either. Especially in the off-season you can find marked prices being dramatically chipped away with very little effort indeed.
Once away from the opening area near the Piazzale Roma, the streets start to converge, more bridges appear and little alleyways delight, confound, point at your sense of direction and burst into fits of giggling. This is the Venice I was looking for. Much like the tight, meandering streets of Jerusalem or Varanasi, but with a more modern architecture, they were fun to walk around and generally filled with flats rather than shops. Very occasionally a little bar would surprise us and be far more interesting than the expensive street corner ones near the major churches.
Up in the Cannaregio area we hopped into a little nondescript cafe for a cuppa and paid an incredibly reasonable â‚¬1 each. Not too long later we picked up lunch at a little cafÃ© in the Armoury area for a handful of Euros. Staying away from the built up and hectic areas by no means reduces the quality of the food, but it does lighten the load on the purse-strings!
As the day wore on and it got chillier, the sun went down and we picked a random restaurant (“Albergo Malibran”) for dinner. Despite its close proximity to one of the main shopping thoroughfares, the prices were incredibly reasonable. Pizza and pasta were consumed and we ambled home via a supermarket. 2 litres of local rosÃ© wine for â‚¬4 was a chance we couldn’t pass up. Likewise, a bottle of Jagermeister for â‚¬10.79. Come on – that’s pushing it for half the price in the UK.
Venice closes fairly early. It’s no party city, but it’s bustling during the day. With bellies and shopping bags laden down, we caught the bus back to the hotel. That bottle of wine was demolished over a couple of classic Peter Jackson films on the netbook. It wasn’t bad, either. Mind you, alcohol always helps when you’re watching Bad Taste and Brain Dead.