Monday, October 27, 2008

Venice - City of Water and Romance

I'm always excited when starting on a new city blog post - there's this inexplicable thrill of venturing into unchartered territories (like I'm some explorer) and the realisation that I'm finally making some progress on the travel blogging.

When we first arrived at Venice's train station (soon after leaving Florence on the same day), we were greeted by a pungent smell, akin to the sewage, wafting from the nearby canal. Doesn't make for a very welcoming first impression does it? haha. It was already late evening, but most shops were still open. Hence, on our way to our hostel, while lugging our backpacks/luggages, we stopped by a shop to grab some sandwiches for dinner.

Our hostel was a 20mins' walk away, tucked away in an alley a little off the main pavement beside the main canal. The owners were very friendly people, who spoke very good English and were very helpful in recommending places to visit. Our room was a cozy 3 bedder, with a nearby toilet/bathroom just outside the room, shared by 3 other rooms on this floor.

Outside of our hostel

The iron gates leading to our room; Mr Irish figuring out how to open the door to the reception.

They say Venice is famed for its network of waterways, and they were right. Canals and bridges were transversing the entire city. The canal outside the train station was impressively large, there was a large canal on our right while we trudged to our hostel and another small one outside our hostel. The pavements were cobble stoned, just like in most other Italian cities we visited.

We had only 2 days in Venice, and for the first day, after recommendation from the hostel reception, we decided to visit Murano, a Venetian island renowned for glass-making. It happens that there was strike staged by the water taxi drivers in Venice, so we could not board a water taxi at the stand outside the train station. For some reason that I cannot remember, we walked to a remote stand on the other side of the island, and we were able to board another water taxi to get to Murano instead (probably an independent water taxi operator).

Enroute to the water taxi stand to Murano

Welcome to Murano!

It was a hot, hot day in Murano

The island of Murano, like Venice, comprises an intricate network of waterways and bridges

Our scrumptious lunch ala al frescoe at little restaurant in Murano.
The service was impeccable too, unlike some restaurants in the cities we earlier visited

According to Wiki, Murano became the island of glass makers after the glass makers were asked to move their factories previously located in Venice to Murano, for fear of fires. The glassware in Murano is world renowned, with many merchants elsewhere in the world touting their wares to be made in Murano, although it may not always be the case.

The lovely window displays at the Murano shops. I'm in love with half the things inside!

The delicate flowers in the flower boxes were made of glass!

Kungfu dragons =)

The fabulous blue sculpture behind us is made of glass

Murano was a shopping haven, everything a girl could not resist. There were pretty things everywhere - Glass sculptures of every imaginable shapes and sizes, lovely glass ornaments and trinkets, mosaic tiles for crafty DIY projects, chandeliers. The jewelry crafters in Ms Rehau and me couldn't resist spending our Euros on those beautiful glass pendents. Well even guys can't resist the beautiful glassware. Mr Irish bought some glass ornaments himself. *stifles grin*

Our only regret was that we didn't manage to visit any of the glass factories there for a tour, because we didn't know if it's permissible in the first place.

View from our ride back

Back in Venice, we found Venice at dusk and nightfall to be very alluring. Check out the following pictures for the proof!

There were several cozy diners along this canal. Pity we haven't got the time to try any of them.

Sunset by the canal closest to our hostel

The same spot, some minutes later

Twilight descending, some more minutes later

Venice truly lived up to my prior romantic perception of the city - captivating scenery, and laid back, idllyic vibe. Oh, did I mention that we saw some really good looking Italian gentlemen lounging by the diners too? At least, we assumed they are Italians, they could be tourists, for all we know. =)

Venice had woven a dreamy cloak of romance on *starry eyed* moi.

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