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Madison, WI, USA
Last updated 10/2/2012
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The One and Only Venice

After we said goodbye to our family in Milan, Brad and I moved on to Venice. Walking through Venice was very surreal. Of course I had seen pictures and read descriptions of it, but actually being there was incredible. I felt like I was dreaming the entire time. Everything I looked at could be a picture–I’m pretty sure I made Brad take hundreds of pictures. Many cities in the world like to compare themselves to Venice. I don’t know how many times we’ve visited “The Venice of the North” or “The Venice of the East.” After seeing the real deal, I’m convinced no city should ever try to compare itself to Venice. It’s??embarrassing??for the imitator and insulting to the original.

Venice is by far the most captivating and enchanting place I’ve ever seen. As you probably know, there are no roads, just canals and hundreds of bridges. The whole city is like one giant maze of bridges and alleys that suddenly??end??at the water. It can get very confusing, but wandering around the forgotten nooks and crannies is the best way to explore.

With the wealth it gained from controlling commerce in the Mediterranean, Venice used to be one of the most powerful countries in the world. Strange to think of what such a small archipelago could accomplish. Just building the canals and the city itself was incredible, but it also has an amazing legacy of architecture, art, music, and culture. Of course, now it’s been in decline for hundreds of years.??Everywhere you look, you see moss and mildew,??white marble that’s been worn to black, and cracked plaster revealing bricks underneath it, but somehow all this ageing just adds to the charm. They say that the whole city is actually sinking, and that one day it will all crumble into the sea.??Until then, I think we can all agree that this is the most beautiful and stately collapse??imaginable.

Just like everywhere else, people love gossiping about the negative aspects of Venice. We’d heard quite a few negative reviews about the city, but the most common complaints were about the heat, the mosquitoes, the smelly canals, and the crowds. For the record, the canals didn’t smell bad at all while we there (I actually thought most of the city smelled like the sea) and we didn’t have any problems with mosquitoes. As for the heat, well, if you’re worried about hot weather, you probably shouldn’t come to Italy in the summer. The crowds were the only thing that really bothered us about Venice. It’s so touristy and crowded, the??popular??areas felt more like Disneyland than an actual city. That being said, it wasn’t too hard to wander away from the hordes of people and suddenly find ourselves alone in some quiet corner of town.

We decided to splurge and get a fancy hotel overlooking the Grand Canal to celebrate our anniversary. After that, we resumed our backpacker ways and slept in a tent in a campground on the mainland. (It was actually a very nice campground, so I can’t complain.) While in Venice, we saw the main places like the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square. We tried some of the local dishes, like cuttlefish and its ink served with polenta (cornmeal). But, like always, we mostly just wandered around aimlessly and enjoyed Venice’s special atmosphere.

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