Actually it seems my head has been wrapped around Venice, Italy lately so I'll start there for now. I'll try to add more pictures as I come across them.
Lets see, we were in Venice for 3 nites I believe. Between the two of us we had mixed reviews of the city. It didn't start out great, we got off our train on the land 'side' (for lack of a better word) of Venice (yes, there are two 'sides', you don't here about the land 'side' of Venice for a reason, yuck!). So after some confusion we hoped another 30 minute train to the Canal 'side' of Venice. Much better. Sadly due to carrying our luggage I don't have any first pictures of anywhere we went and that is a shame because arriving in Venice you step out of the train station and on too a huge platform looking on to canals! It is pretty striking!
So I say we have mixed reviews of Venice and that is because Mark didn't really like the place at all and I agree with him on a lot of his reasons but I can look past a lot of the bad and say that it was just bad luck and bad circumstances. I would like to go back and give it another chance...
By the time we got to Italy we had made two stops in Germany and one in Switzerland, the weather had begun to warm and we knew we needed to unload some clothing and such plus we needed to do laundry, we were getting ripe... So there was a lot of buisiness to do at our 1st stop in Italy.
This is one side of the famous Rialto Bridge. Its amazing how hard it was to photograph - it is just so massive!! If you'd like to know more about it you can check out this link
We arrived and it was drizzly and dreary most of our stay. We got off our water taxi at the Rialto bridge and lugged our very heavy luggage over the bridge (which is all stairs and tourists)only to discover that we were suppose to be on the other side of the bridge (the side we exited the taxi on). We find our B&B (two blocks off of Rialto) and climb a typically narrow stairway to the lobby and then discover we are in the top (attic) suite; more narrow stairways carrying our luggage. I think Mark slammed his head on a low beam going up if I'm not mistaken. The room was small but nice enough, until you open the bathroom door. The sewage smell was sooo strong you could barely stand to do your own quick business. The door had to remain shut at all times which made the smell worse but to open the door and air it out would stink the whole room! We had yet a few more stairs to access our own personal patio that overlooked Venice roof tops.
It was nice but the mosquitos were terrible! We had no a/c to speak of and it was hot and stuffy and smelly in this room!
Anyways, we discovered rather quickly that the service and personel everywhere (accept at our B&B) was terrrible!! Merchants of Venice aparently do not care about repeat business because they know that if its not you someone else will be there to pay them... its really sad. This is the 1st place that you really felt the tourist trap, everything is priced up because it's Venice. I'm sure if you got away from the main canal it would be better but doing our trip as fast as we did I planned to be in the heart of everywhere we stayed.
When we finally settled down to do laundry we found out how windy and claustophobic the allies of Venice can be. There is no kind of standard grid for the allies or anyway to even look out above to find a land mark to get your bearings. This is what Mark had the biggest problem with. We took off to the laudry mat which appeared to be about a 10 minute walk from our BB and it should have been but the buildings are all so tall and the allies so narrow and nothing is really labeled well... We got there and got back but it was a challange. (The post office was done the next day and had it's own unique challanges).
St. Marks Square was nice, just like the movies minus some construction to one of the buildings. There were pigeons everywhere and plenty of vendors to hand out some sugar juice you could hold which would cause the winged rats to climb all over you and your loved ones - GROSS!! We saw a couple get engaged in the middle of the square! That was Great!! He dropped to one knee and handed her a ring and she started crying and hugging him saying yes, yes - it too was just like the movies - it was sweet.
Lets see, we had 2 small cups of coffee there at the square for the kick ass price of about $30. EXTORTION!! It was crazy, you are paying just for the experience to sit down in the square.
We didn't do the gondola rides, we'd heard from everyone that they were too overpriced as well and besides, all the gondoliers went on strike Friday while we were there... ptttthhhhh!
The last day the sun began to peak out from behind the clouds and it's light, I think, really didn't brighten up the city. I could ramble here for days just about Venice. It is an old, sinking city with vultures for shop keepers but it has its charm and I think if the stars would have lined up differently for us we would have enjoyed it better. I guess some where has to be the least favorite place... Next time it will be better, I'm sure of it!! :)
Me at one of the canal/ally crossings.
I have to stop for now... I'll try to get back on and add some more pictures very soon...