I wanted to love Venice
Ahhhhh Venice. A city of romance – because everywhere you look someone is getting screwed. I guess everyone should see it once, if only to know what it’s like to be lost in a walled city beset on all sides by swindlers.
I wanted to love Venice. I was looking forward to it more than anything else on our holiday. It was beautiful and unlike any place else in the world. I’m sure the locals are sick of the hoards of swarming tourists and I wasn’t expecting to be hailed and hugged upon entering the city, but I also wasn’t expecting city employees to rip me off. I guess I should have considered this blurb in the guide book fair warning:
“As Venice’s power grew, so did the desire for a top-rank saint as a patron, rather than St. Theodore, a saint so obscure as to be unknown outside the city. Theodore was traditionally attended to be a crocodile which can still be seen at the foot of his statue on top of a column in the Piazzetta. In 829, two Venetians stole the body of St. Mark from its tomb in Alexandria, and, cunningly concealing it under a pile of pickled pork to keep the Muslims away, brought it triumphantly back to Venice. To bolster Venice’s claim as his resting place, a tale of shipwreck was concocted and the Basilica erected as his shrine. St. Mark’s symbol as an Evangelist, the lion, became the emblem of Venice, and can be seen all over the city and wherever Venice once held sway.”
The Venetians don’t waste any time. Upon arriving I waited in line to buy Vaporetto tickets, which I asked for in phrase-book Italian. The man chatted with me with a big smile, handed over change and waved “Ciao.” I didn’t think anything of not getting a bill for my 7 Euros change because I’ve gotten used to anything under 10 Pounds being in coin. I stepped away, counted the change then went back to the counter. The man gave me a dirty look and handed over the fiver. Before I get a lot of comments from sweet Midwesterners telling me it was an honest mistake, listen carefully: There are no honest mistakes in Venice.
There are two prices for everything – the price you are quoted and a lower price if you can point to something in writing. We watched a train conductor try to fine two American ladies 50 Euros for something involving their train passes, but they balked and he let it go.
We were also disappointed in the food. If there’s one thing The Husband and I are happy to pay top dollar (or Euro) for it’s a good dinner, particularly fresh seafood. Sadly, we weren’t particularly impressed with any of the meals especially considering the prices.
I’m not saying don’t go, just be wary. Stay two nights – get in, see Piazza San Marco, drink some wine and get out. Pay cash for everything because once the credit card receipt is printed there’s no getting out of the surprise special “taxes” (we learned that during our first dinner after seeing two Brits at the next table get screwed).
“Do these pigeons look out of control?”
Yes! I felt like this man except not happy.
A Dutch woman and her daughter were also staying at our hotel. On our way out the second morning The H said, “I just saw those two women again but they were really quiet.” I said, “Well, it’s early and everyone’s terrified.”
I took many pictures since I plan never to go back. Well, The H and I might wait until global warming has raised the ocean levels more significantly and then charter a helicopter so we can watch Venice sink while throwing pennies at the birds.