Friday, September 25, 2009

Visitig Italy - Venice

Just a few weeks after returning from Madrid, we had a flight booked for Venice.
The plan was to stay for 3 days in Venice, and in the two days left - we were going to have our first couchsurfing experience.

We were very excited about both: visiting Venice and meeting people from the CS network - for the first time.

Our flight landed this time in the late evening and we hurried to catch a bus before the transportation schedule ended. Since the airport was placed far from the city, we wanted to avoid getting a cab, as the long distance would have implied a pricey outcome.

With no accommodation arranged for the first three days, we asked the bus driver for suggestions about hostels or hotels near the city (Andra did the talking as she knows Italian pretty good).
The buss driver was good enough to drop us right in front of a nice hotel (Primavera, if I remember correctly). Took the bed and breakfast option which proved to be great, because we ate well in the morning and had plenty of energy for visiting afterwards.

Before this trip I finally managed to buy a new dslr camera - D80, after the D40 previously owned; so now it was a good occasion for me to test it properly, satisfy one of my hobbies and keep on stalking Andra with the camera :).

A few pictures from the 1st day:

We knew that Venice implied water, but we weren't expecting so much water (it was unexpected in a pleasant way).
Also, we'd seen Rome, so we knew what a small street looked like; but in Venice many streets were more like alleys that allowed two or three people to walk aligned, and others allowed only one person to walk conformable from one end to the other.
There are no automobiles of any kind allowed - nor present in the city, and it wouldn't be possible to drive there - to that matter.
The public transportation is done by water, in ships called "vaporeto". They are quite pricey compared to transportation in Rome or Madrid, for instance.
A taxi is a lot more expensive, similar to the gondola prices which float around 80 euros per 40 minutes trip.
Most of the locals have a boat of their own, and we saw many houses completely surrounded by water.

In our wondering through the city, we got lost from the crowd on the way to San Marco plaza. It was great; the tourists number was pretty high in that period, and all the main streets looked like an ants' nest. So, by getting lost, we actually ended up in a less transited area, with smaller alleys, nice, old architecture and fewer shops.

In the San Marco plaza one can have a very nice time by: feeding the pigeons (they eat from you hand), visiting the cathedral and climbing the tower, from where the whole city can be seen at 360 degrees.
There were lines of people gathered at these attractions, but they were worth the waiting time.

During the last day in Venice, we met with Andra's uncle and his family - established in Italy for a few years now.
While meeting family relatives is sometimes boring or routine, this time it was quite the opposite.
Vera, their young daughter, was adorable. Always talking and telling more funny things than a comedian :), she was the party spirit.

Last days - Caltrano city.
Andra's uncle helped a lot by driving us to Caltrano, where we met Raine and Emanuele.
They seemed very nice from the first moment we saw then, and after we started discussing on various subjects, everything turned to be very very interesting.
It was a unique occasion to learn about two cultures, as Raine is Estonian and Emanuele is Italian.
They had a lot of stories and previous experiences to share with us, and we are grateful for everything.
Emanuele even let me his car to drive around with Raine and Andra - when he was at work!
(Emanuele, when you'll visit us here, I will definitely share my motorcycle/car with you ;)..).

While at home with Raine, the girls cooked food together and we visited the surroundings (Caltrano is a nice city in a serene and beautiful area).

In the end we were wishing to have stayed a bit longer, to finish all the topics started.
We are glad to have met such an intelligent, generous and interesting couple - who offered us an unforgettable experience.

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