Arriving in Venice was a bit of a whirlwind. With both our phones
failing to get a signal (thanks Orange, or do I mean EE – great that you are an amazing service provider but not in Italy I guess) and us having no idea where our apartment was or where we needed to meet the woman who was renting to us, we were, in theory, officially stranded.So while the other thousands of couples who arrived in arguably the ‘most romantic’ city in the world we stood staring out our supposedly ‘smart’ phones, wondering why for all the technology stuffed into these little pieces of technology – all the fancy apps, music and weird voice recognition thing that asks me to yell instructions at it if I hold down the menu button too long – neither of our iPhones was able to perform the simplest of functions – simply to ring someone.
So as we stood on the taxi bus surrounding by Italians and tourists I hardly noticed the stunning scenery and film set esk scenes passing us by due to the sheer panic that we were most probably heading in totally the wrong direction. Luckily we were and Andy managed to get another tourist (who didn’t have such as rubbish service provider) to text the landlord who finally arrived after us both attempting to us the very confusing and ancient public phones, which for all our combined qualifications and intellect which just couldn’t seem to work out how to use – we did eventually, but obviously you can’t teach common sense! If I’m going to be honest I think the landlord knew exactly were we where but decided to let us stew for a while longer – which due to my very temperamental ostomy bag I was not very happy about whatsoever.
During the whole trip I didn’t really have many real problems with my ostomy, which was surprising, I did have issues with my fistula, but I will get into that during a later post, for now lets stick to Venice.
Winnie managed to survive the plane trip, boat trip and walk to the
apartment (which can only be described as a disappointment, dingy and rather shockingly covered in blood splatters which I mistakenly assumed were kids crayon marks until Andy splattered a mosquito and I realised the walls were covered in blood!), and we managed to get a quick change and make it out onto the winding and picturesque streets of Venice with few issues whatsoever.
If you haven’t visited Venice you really should do it in your lifetime. It is exactly how you imagine it. It really is a living film set, exactly the way you see it on films like James Bond (you know where the house collapses into the canal) and the Tourist where stunning Senior Depp jumps across rooftops into a marketplace (well that’s all I remember anyway). I honestly would say it is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, and, weirdly enough the most eerily peaceful and quiet. I think you have to go there to understand what I mean, but one minute you feel like you’re about to pass out through the density of the crowds squishing you against the walls in the piazzas and tight alleyways, then suddenly, without any warning, you turn a corner and you are totally alone – it is both frightening and beautiful at the same time. In those moments I never knew wether to scream and run in fear that a mad axe mad might chase me through the maze-like alleyways (scary movie style) or stop and just breath in the moment. If it was Manchester you would have run for your life fearing you’d stumbled into Moss Side by mistake, but for some weird reason in this foreign country where everything was alien letting you’re guard down seemed a perfectly sensible thing to do. I lived for such moments, and what’s important is we made it back without loosing any limbs in an alleyway attack!
Anyway, most of our time in Venice was filled with us randomly exploring the maze of the alleyways trying to find the real side of Venice. And we must have seen a lot of things most tourists who stick to St mark’s Square and the other main sites never get to have a glimpse of. We wandered into traditional wine bars (one we loved was right near our apartment, and very cheap for a glass of gorgeous red), stuffed our faces with icecream, pizza and pasta. Oh yes and ran away from a restaurant without paying the service charge – spending the rest of the trip looking over our shoulders frightened the police were coming after us – such criminals, but I will not pay for rude service!
Going up the tower in St Mark’s Square was an experience. Looking
back now it was a very mediocre one and not one I would do again after climbing up towers in Florence, Pisa and Rome which offered far more impressive views. You could only take the lift, something I always hate doing as it gets rid of the sense of accomplishment you get arriving at the top totally out of poof, and you really did struggle to get nearer the netting to admire the views due to the sheer amount of people trying to take pictures of every inch of the city from the top.
We didn’t do Dodge’s Tower, instead choosing to take a trip to the islands. If you go I really recommend you do this. It takes half a day and you see some of the picturesque areas, where literally a handful of people live and work. Just be careful not to stand up to quick on the boat, I did, and I think my head is still spinning from the sicking crack I gave it. The islands were stunning, especially the one, and I can’t remember its name, which seemed to offer the most idilic alternative to Venice to get married. The brides I saw were glowing with happiness, and I think that would be just what I wanted if and when the time comes for me to tie-the-knot – that is serenity, beauty and that happy glow.
One of my favourite moments was finding an icecream shop (which did dairy free for me WHOOP) and sitting with our legs dangling into the canal watching the world, gondolas and speedboats go by while reading our books. While we were sat there a sting quartet and pianist started playing orchestral tunes, including Just One Cornetto. It couldn’t be more perfect, that was cheapest night and our last night in venice.
Anyway I know you are all longing to hear about it. Yes I did it…no I didn’t get engaged if that’s what you’re thinking, but I fulfilled a lifelong dream of going on a gondola through Venice. This was one of the stoma bag lady challenges I was looking forward to the most, and it didn’t disappoint.
Yes ok it is very expensive and you can’t barter to get the price
down. There is a city wide blanket fixed price of 80 euros for the 40 minute trip. This is for two people. Yes, you can get it half price if you share with another couple – but where’s the romance in that, knowing our look we would have got stuck with a screaming kid or a manic depressive trying to throw themselves in off the boat every five seconds. And if you go after 7pm the price soars up – so we, as savvy customers heading out for the ride at 6pm dressed up in our finest just so that the experience would be even more romantic – I mean a lot of couples were wearing shorts and T-shirts, some even had backpacks, what’s the point in spending all that money if you’re photos are not special??
The trip was everything I hoped and more. We carefully sourced our driver…which was important as we had seen rather horrendous sites of them smoking, chatting on mobile phones and other unimaginably unromantic things while taking poor couples down the Grand Canal on their ‘romantic’ trip. Ok he didn’t sing, but he gave us a very informative guided tour as he leisurely paddled us down the tight waterways even taking us down onto the main canal to see the Bridge of Sighs and the main bridge (I forget its name).
The canal didn’t smell contrary to popular belief. Chester smells worse on a sunny day. The ride was romantic and idilic and extremely peaceful. I felt safe and secure even as the gondolas came towards each other and the drivers calmly negotiated the tight corners to try and avoid crashes which would have sent many a half asleep couple flailing into the canal.
If I hadn’t had my surgery I wouldn’t have been able to sit still for that long, that’s how bad my Crohns/Colitis had been. Instead I leaned back and breathed in the sights and sounds of one of the most beautiful cities in the world in the arms of a man who I truely love more than anything in the world. And nothing bad happened. It was a dream come true, really it was. I couldn’t have hoped for more, I just wish it had lasted longer. It was one of those unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime moments, and it will always be with me no matter what happens next.