This weekend we were able to take part in an optional trip to Venice, Italy. Upon arrival to the island is the most interesting train station I have ever been. As you step out of the train, you need only to walk about 50 meters and are immediately greeted by the canals full of water boats and taxis. It amazes me that people were able to build such magnificent buildings which basically float on a constant changing body of water and still remain standing to this day (even though Venice is sinking). The topography of the land is clearly evident in the arrangement of the streets and buildings, there is almost no straight road and some allies that are nearly shoulder width apart. The thing that amazes me the most is how water infiltrates the city in so many places, how have these buildings withstood and weathered the elements for such a long time? Even more amazing were some architects such as Scarpa, who were able to use the changing water levels due to the tide in the design of his buildings. During high tide the water literally consumes the ground levels of the building in such interesting geometric patterns which shows the connection of this place to the sea. Another unique aspect of Venice were the small bridges that connected the island together. It was quite an experience to stop on one for a minute a stare down the allies of water with buildings that enclosed you. Such a strange sight to see water base corridor with man powered gondolas rowing through tight rows, rather then hard ground or concrete and cars. One of my favorite highlights of the weekend was meeting one of the few left craftsman who makes forcoles for gondolas; a special craft of wood carving that is not practiced by many anymore.
This particular weekend was the infamous carnival which was quite a treat to experience. A treat and at the same time a burden because there were so many damn people. A lot of the time I felt that this one weekend is kind of similar to the state fair in Minnesota. Hoards of people dressed up in ridiculous costumes and masks parading around to experience this strange party. I think I would have enjoyed my time their much more if I could have seen what Venice is really like 330 days out of the year, a quiet low inhabited city with many empty buildings and large piazzas all to yourself. To me that is much more enjoyable then trying to push your way through hoards of clowns (literally people dressed as clowns).
Also another aspect of my trip which would have been more enjoyable is if I was actually staying on the island. My friend and I made the mistake of booking our hostel at Plus (Venice) when everyone in our group was staying at Generator on Giudecca. But Plus is most certainly not on the island of venice, in fact it is nine miles inland tucked away in a suburban area. It took an hour and forty five minutes everyday for us to get to the island which included a half hour walk and a forty minute bus ride. Also the hostel we stayed in was like a movable camper and the grounds were more like a trailer park. May I also add that one morning at 5 AM I was woken up by a roster…… The only “plus” of staying at this location is I was able to see much more of Venice then most tourist would see. It is a very nice little town with bike paths everywhere, roundabouts, parks/green space, rows of trees lining the roads, small coffee shops, and good transportation. Overall this was a great experience and I really enjoyed my weekend.