We got to the airport in Venice and our airbnb host offered to pick us up, which worked out well, and he picked us up wearing a Captain America shirt, which was very amusing. We found out later he was really into comic books, so it made sense, but it was fun at the time. The house was also really nice, we had our own bathroom and essentially the whole top floor part to ourselves. Our host was also incredibly friendly, he made us dinner our last night and we made dessert and we all played a couple card games together. He also offered to drive us to the bus station so we could actually get into Venice and helped us buy tickets to do so and all of that, and drove us to our bus station when we left, which I’ll get to in a bit. But if anyone needs a recommendation of an airbnb near Venice, I have one.
I don’t think I enjoyed Venice quite as much as some of the other ASE students who have visited, mainly because I found it incredibly difficult to get around. Venice is definitely a maze, with not well labeled streets, and the tourist maps tend to have large icons of the tourist attractions, making it difficult to figure out how to get there. I also have a very poor sense of direction, which really didn’t help with that. All that being said, it definitely is very pretty and you can easily stumble upon some lovely buildings and things to see.
Once we found out where it was, we spent most of our time in St. Mark’s Square, which has a ton of things. The main is St. Mark’s Basilica, but we weren’t able to go in because I was wearing shorts and you can’t have exposed knees or shoulders in order to go in. So instead, we bought a pass to go to four museums in the Square, part of which allowed us to go through the Bridge of Sighs (see photo below), of which there is a similar bridge in Oxford. We also went to the Doge’s Palace, which was cool, and all of the museums had a lot of history woven into them, and since I don’t know much about the Italian history, I appreciated that, and they were on a variety different topics, not exclusively wars etc.
In the Square, Henry also got conned into buying me roses. A guy came up to me, handing me a rose, which I tried to not take, but it was basically forced on me, and then he started asking us questions and as we answered, he handed me two more roses and then asked a few more questions and then asked for money. We also went to the Rialto Bridge, which is another tourist spot, and more men tried to give us roses, but we learned our lesson and very clearly said no. The Rialto is also where a lot of people take their pictures of the Grand Canal and there are a lot of little shops and food vendors and things along the way.
Our second day in Venice we stayed in our airbnb, which actually worked out well because I was able to sort out all of the check-in and baggage for our future flights, and Henry was able to get some work done. And hey, the Italian countryside is not the worst place to just spend a day in bed on a computer. As I mentioned, our airbnb host drove us to the bus station and dropped us off, we were taking a [9 hour] bus from Venice to Vienna. When we got there, our bus wasn’t listed, so we asked someone working there, and got a difficult and condescending answer about where to go, which was a bus stop down the street. As it turned out, there were three bus stops down the street, so we spent a bunch of time waiting between them for our bus, and after thinking one bus was ours when it wasn’t, we did eventually get on the right one. It turned out to be 10 hours because there was traffic in Slovenia, and we also watched a guy get taken off the bus at the Slovenian border because he didn’t have the proper documents. So it was yet another imperfect travel experience, but we did make it to Vienna.