Venice (when football saved the day)

Ahh Venice, the floating city, one of it's kind.

I'd always dreamed of visiting, exploring the canals in a Gondola, with our very own stripey Gondalier (is that a word? I hope so).

I'd got close punting in Cambridge, but I wanted the real thing!

And now that I'm living a couple of hours away it seemed like the perfect time to go.

And who better to go with than my boyfriend?

(It's supposed to be romantic right?).

Instead of staying the night and having to pay for a hotel, we made it a day trip with the train. There was a two for one deal (love my deals me) that made it only 30 euros each return.

Which is a bargain when you consider it's a 2 and a half hour journey each way.
On the train ready for Venice at 8.25 am
Although that did mean we spent 5 hours on a train in ONE day...

but deals are deals and you have to make sacrifices.
Croissants for breakfast made it all better
the view from the train felt like you were floating on water

So the big question is...

Was it all worth it?

Well...I'm going to be honest, at first I wasn't so sure.

But it's Venice!

It's just that I was expecting something amaaaazing and it didn't quite live up to expectations (which from Venice's reputation of being Venice were pretty high).

To be fair I can't blame it all on the poor little city itself- I think the weather probably had something a lot to do with it.
a pretty yucky day

this helped cheer me up a little bit

It rained the entire morning and most of the afternoon too.

(Venice is just not the type of place which is enjoyable in the rain)

It wasn't helped by the fact I was completely and utterly inappropriately dressed. But, in my defense
a. It was the middle of Italy! So come on!
2. It's not like I could even change my outfit if I wanted to as we had stayed in a hostel in Milan (interesting experience involving being redirected to a different hostel and having a a 6 person room to ourselves) so we could get the early train, as I don't actually live in Milan.

umbrellas galore in a rainy St.Mark's square

The I dont care that it's raning pose (but really he did)
So, I spent most of the day freezing and wet and looking ridiculous in my boyfriend's hoodie that he so lovingly let me wear.

So the rain was one thing.

The second thing was the sheer amount of people tourists. I heard somewhere that no one actually lives in Venice and it certainly feels like that. Every street crowded with restaurants proclaiming "menu turistico" and shops selling tacky yet overpriced gifts.

I tried to avoid being sucked into the whole tourist trap thing by doing some research on where we could eat for lunch. I had it all planned: we would go to the Carneggio area, where the "locals" go.

But well, that didn't happen because we got incredibly, incredibly lost.

And not fun, I don't know where I am but it doesn't matter because we are just exploring lost.

But proper I would reaaally like to know where I am right now because I am very cold and wet and hungry and my legs hurt lost.

It's safe to say we didn't have a clue where we were.

Even with a paper map (which was tricky in the rain) AND Google Maps.

We wanted to get back to the Grand canal, the main and biggest canal in Venice- easy right?

We went in the complete wrong direction.

Like the complete opposite end of the Island wrong direction.

Partly because we are both hopeless at map reading but mostly because Venice is so bloody confusing! (You walk down a street then BAM! It ends in a canal and you have to go back, so annoying).
narrow streets like this are a nightmare!
There's just no way to know which direction is which (unless you're at St. Marks square or something...but even from there we managed to get lost).

Hungry and lost is the worst possible combination, so inevitably we succumbed to the so obviously tourist place that invited us in from the cold.

Of course, it was expensive and tasted rubbish. The worst thing was that I knew that it would be expensive and rubbish and I had tried so hard to avoid it.

Especially now since I have pretty high standards of what is "authentic" Italian (not even sure if I'll be able to set foot in a Pizza Express when I get back).

So I was pretty grumpy after lunch (sorry James).

But hope was in sight...

the rain was getting lighter and the clouds were beginning to clear! Little patches of sun even started to sneak through.

So we thought it would be a good time to head for a Gondola ride.

But the thing with the Gondolas is, the price is per Gondola, so the more people you have the cheaper it will be.

The Gondolers cost 80 euros so you do the math and realize that it's pretty expensive for just two people (and it only lasts around 30 minutes).

I really really wanted to go on one, but we just couldn't afford the full price.

So...let's just find someone to share the Gondola with!

But after hanging around the Gondolas for half an hour, trying to ask people who looked like they were looking at the Gondolas (we must've looked slightly stalkerish) we were ready to give up and I really felt like crying. Coming to Venice and not even getting to on a Gondola?!

But that's when football saved us.

Let me explain: My boyfriend is very into football.

I however am very not into football, in fact I HATE it. ( strange how we get on really, but opposites attract and all that).

He is so into football that due to the fact that his team Ipswich (and I always spell it wrong so hopefully I've spelt it right this time) were playing that day, he wore his football shirt to Venice.

(Yeah I know right)

I tried my hardest to persuade him not to...

But in the end I am VERY glad he was so stubborn (and football obssessed) because just in the depths of our despair, some guy tapped him on the shoulder and announced he was a supporter to!

Turns out he's from that area of the country (crazy eh the places you meet people) and seeing a bond, quick as a flash my boyfriend asked if they wanted to share a Gondola with us.

After a few tense moments (he had lost his wife and had to go and find you do) they decided that yes, they would indeed go for a ride with some complete strangers.

Never thought I'd EVER say this but thank God for Football!! (I guess I kind of have to like it now)

gondola selfie, gotta be done

the Rialto Bridge
And from then on the day got better.

We re-visited St. Marks Square in the sun (much better).

We finally managed to stop going around in circles down the same streets.

And we even managed to find one of the rare residential areas which was just beautiful.
It had such a different feel to it.

Finally I began to feel the magic of Venice.

And the icing on the cake (quite literally) was stumbling upon a cute little cafe for coffee and cake (see what I did there?), completely by chance.

Now THAT was what I had imagined.

So in the end, after a wet and miserable and stressful beginning, everything turned out rather lovely.

We made our way back to the station, basking in the beautiful golden evening.

Who cares if we had a 2 and a half train journey ahead.
In the end it was very much worth it.
And as we whizzed off into the sunset we were left with this final, beautiful image.

(next time though I would definitely make a proper plan, not get lost, and bring a raincoat just in case! And maybe even stay a night or two because I would really like to explore more of the places we found by accident at the end. Oh and also make sure we get to go in the main sights like the Basilica because it shuts really early).