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Monday, October 22, 2007

Possum & Orson's European Adventures - Chapter 2

Venizia, Venizia [sung to the tune of Felicia's opening track]


We set off freakin' early for the airport (sharing a taxi with the Capetonian from our hostel), and flew out to Venice, well Mestre really, well, after a bus ride from the airport, we were in Mestre. Then a municipal bus to Camping Fusina where we were staying.

 Camping Fusina was a place where Jono and his travelling mates stayed in 2001 when they did their gap year, and it turned out to be pretty cool. we stayed in a tiny private cabin for the same prices as a youth hostel bed, and they have a bar and beer garden, pizza oven, restaurant and teeny groceries shop.

 Much to my delight, on of the camper vans parked there had Eastern Cape number plates, a SA flag and a portrait of Madiba on the side. We later watched the SA v USA rugby with the proud owners of said van. They told me how they'd taken six months to drive up through Africa and Europe with their two small children and were off the France next. Admirable, but daunting!

Venice is the most beautiful city. It is like something out of a dream or a grown up Disney movie. It is a warren of crumbling buildings, dainty wrought iron bridges and opaque green canals. From Camping Fusina we took a half hour ferry onto the islands that constitute Venice, and it is the best way to get to the city - although there is a bus which is much cheaper. A three day pass for the ferry costs 20 euros and entitles you to unlimited trips, but get a timetable first as the operating hours changes from season to season and you don't really wanna get stuck overnight.

It is a city that people flock to to be beautiful and see beauty - all of which has a fairly ugly side: the biggest informal trade seems to be Central African - looking men flogging not so cheap handbag knock offs. This is apparently illegal. If you walk past the real Luis Vitton and its neighbours, there are signs out saying that the bags are made from toxic substances by child labourers and will turn you into a green hairy monkey should you look at one to closely, but there is zero evidence that this is policed (how do you spell that?) in any real way.

One thing that Venice has in abundance, and is very famous for, is the Murano and Venetian glass, particularly the glass jewellery. I could have maxed out the credit card on this alone!! It is stunning, very reasonably priced and completely unique pieces are standard.

Note, however, that this glowing review of the city must be balanced by Jono's input, which is that it is simply boring. If pretty crumbly buildings and pretty jewellery don't cut it for you, make Venice a single day trip only.

Lessons learned: Kate has an unquenchable unfathomable capacity for jewellery shopping, Mestre is a cheaper, more realistic option for (near) Venice accommodation. The best views in Venice are to be found atop the tower in San Marco's square for 6 euros (and there is thankfully a lift).

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