G is for Gondola

Our second day in Venice had a lot to live up to, and it didn’t disappoint. We had a pretty restless night in the pretty unbearable Italian heat that was made even worse by the late night discovery that there was a heater in our room that was perpetually on and thus made our room 10x hotter than the hallway outside. Fun times.

Luckily we were too excited by the prospect of spending another day in Venice to worry about the heat or spend much time in the hotel. We had spent the night trying to decide whether to splurge and do a gondola ride for our second morning in Venice. After realising that this could be the one and only time we are ever here (although I have many fingers crossed  that it is not the last we see of the beautiful city) we decided that to save $80 by not taking a gondola ride in the city where boats are pretty much the only way you can see the back streets of Venice, was silly. So our first, wonderful task of the morning was to find ourselves a gondolier and try not to fall into the canals.

We went back to our favourite courtyard spot from yesterday where there was a string quartet playing and a small but happy crowd watching. Now that I am back home in New Zealand, the idea of sitting beside the canal waiting for a gondola with a violins and cellos providing a backing soundtrack sounds  a little unreal. Almost as unreal as sitting on top of Montmatre in Paris and watching the sun descend whilst a little old man performed a puppet show before the crowds. These moments seem so long ago now, but they still bring a very satisfied smile to my face (which probably comes across pretty creepy to everyone around me).

We happened to get an awesome gondolier who not only took us on the best little boat tour of Venice imaginable but also spent his time explaining what we were seeing and also describing the history of Venice and its gondoliers. He made an already amazing experience even better (taking extra special care to point out the palace Angelina Jolie had stayed in whilst filming here, and not forgetting to point out that he featured in one of the takes). Not only was he proud of his stardom, he was in adoration of this beautiful city where he worked and lived, and where his family had all worked and lived. It was the kind of attitude one came to expect in Italy, and especially in Venice. I can see why.

We reluctantly left the gondola, somehow without falling out, and parted ways with our fantastic host. And I have never felt happier about parting with a well spent $80. So my one tip for Venice (well after my other tips of getting lost and eating gelato at least twice a day), my third tip for Venice is take a gondola. It is worth every cent and is a great way to see the parts of Venice that are only accessible by boat, which is a lot of it! From back yard secret courtyards, to giant Venetian palace facades, it was a perfect start to the day.

After getting just a little bit lost, we made our way to the ferry terminal to catch a ride to one of the outlying Islands, Burano. No walk through Venice would be complete without something to distract us from our goal, this time it was our little cat of the canals who we found balancing precariously on a bridge as he decided how best to catch a bird. We named him Giovanni. No judgements please, we obviously have a cat problem. Acknowledging there is a problem is the first step right?

We got off the boat at the island beside Burano where we felt like one of the only human inhabitants (not counting the many sun bathing lizards) until we found the island’s one restaurant which was buzzing with Italians and seemed like the perfect place to grab a cold beer and a big bowl of pasta with beautiful fresh tomato sauce. I don’t think i could live in Italy (a lie, I would live there in a heartbeat) because me plus unlimited parmesan to pour over my pasta is just not a sustainable life plan. Every restaurant we went to set down a bowl of parmesan, undoubtably meant for multiple uses, that together with Edd I managed to decimate. YOLO (cringe).

Full of pasta and parmesan we waddled across the beautiful island and started to catch glimpses of Burano, a vision in bright pinks, purples, oranges and greens. We crossed the foot bridge and immediately fell in love with this little island of rainbows where every house is coloured so that when the boats come up the canals, the houses are clearly defined. It is such a pretty and quaint little island, and quite a beautiful contrast to everything we loved about Venice. It was also a photographer’s dream, with contrasting colours and reflective water around every turn. My favourite part was its town tower, which was on a decidedly adorable lean. Ah, Italians and their leaning towers.

We spent a while in Burano, turning down every side street and admiring every window sill. Kind of like Venice, my words are far to meagre to explain how picturesque this little Island was. So scroll down to the abundance of photos below. They do a much better job. I think my favourite part of Burano was the people, who stood hanging out their washing whilst staring at the weird tourists taking photos of their door ways and window sills. Creeps.

With the afternoon sun beating down on us we reluctantly clambered aboard a busy ferry back to Venice where we wandered for as long as our legs would carry us before starting to say our sad goodbyes to this sweet little city.

Of all the places we went, Venice is the one that sticks in my head the most, as I drift to sleep or as I day dream in front of my work. It is the one where the colours were in abundance, the people were proud, the food was delicious and getting lost was the best idea we ever had. It was the place where we saw people kissing, people arguing, people drinking Prosecco at 10am and eating pasta all day round. It was Italy and it was amazing. I loved all of Italy, but I think I left a little bit of my heart in Venice.

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I had so many photos of Burano that there is no way they would all fit into this post. So to do them justice I will post them up tomorrow by themselves 🙂

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