I realise I completely forgot to do a travel blog for my 3 days in Venice with Anaab! Since that’s kinda the point of this blog, I felt bad, so here we go. Not much has really been happening in my life other than that – just getting used to a new job and a new city, preparing for Christmas, and feeding my Levi’s shopping addiction.
So Anaab and I booked this little weekend getaway for ourselves to Venice, with me thinking, “Tarryne and her fiancee Callum went this time of year and had sunny weather so we’ll get that too”. For Anaab’s first excursion to the continent, I thought it was a great starting place, as it’s packed with stuff to do but is easily walkable and doable in three nights.
Off we go to the airport at stupid o’clock in the morning, taking the surprisingly relaxing Gatwick Express (because I don’t trust Southern Rail at all). I took her to Wetherspoons for breakfast, and got my usual large ass glass of wine, to help with the flight anxiety. Not sure she was very impressed with it, but I’m pleased I got to show her the place I basically spend my life in when I’m at home in Poole.
This is how I roll now.
As well as drinking, I’ve discovered knitting on a plane is helpful for one’s anxiety. Maybe the repetition of it is calming, or maybe it was the alcohol, or simply the good conversation with Anaab.
We landed and headed for the airport boat. It was FREEZING. Misty as hell, too, we couldn’t see very far into the distance. I’d been to Venice before in the summertime, which was lovely, so I wasn’t hugely bothered, but I did feel bad for Anaab. Our Airbnb was in Cannareggio, a residential neighbourhood of Venice which used to be the Jewish ghetto. Probably where Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice lived, if he was real. It was an adorable apartment but my god it was cold – though winter comes around every year, the Italians can’t do heating, much like the Brits can’t do air conditioning. Though to be fair we rarely need it…
We dropped our stuff and headed straight out to Piazza St. Marco, the city’s most famous square. We took a few photographs, I got to go into the weird Byzantine style church featured in the latest Da Vinci Code film, and went to the best pasta place in town. I’d been there before, but man did I miss it.
Couldn’t afford one of these, nor could we see that the traghetto was running!
I have discovered that Anaab is a fantastic travel companion. Though she was, and I quote, “only there for the Instagram photos”, she was up for doing anything and seeing as much as we could. But, when the cold got to us, she was also happy to retreat to our slightly-less-cold apartment. A perfect mix of doing something and doing nothing at all!
But, owing to the fact it was a stupidly cold flat, we found novel ways of dealing with it. We snuggled up in blankets when we stayed indoors, turned the oven on for no real reason, didn’t allow the steam to leave when we took hot showers – but the best way of dealing with it was to snuggle in the slightly warmer room, in the same bed, under two full duvets and three heavy ass blankets. We are basically a couple so there’s no awkwardness, but I think it’s a unique memory of our trip.
The next day was our only full day, so it was sightseeing galore. We started with the Doge’s Palace, which is basically my favourite place in Venice because it’s grand AF and also strangely related to a decent internet meme. It’s also where I put my genius engagement plan into action.
Anaab and I have an in-joke which stems from a time I said “you’re my best mate now” jokingly. Anaab twisted my words as if I insinuated she wasn’t my best mate before, and occasionally uses it to win arguments by saying “but we’re not best mates innit”. Naturally, I grew fed up of being silenced this way, so I hatched a plan to put a stop to it.I wanted to make it official that we were, in fact, best mates and essentially a couple.
Tarryne and Callum got engaged in Venice a year before we went, and I thought I would take me some of the pie as well. I bought a beautiful ring in Bristol and took it with me to Venice, intending to propose in St. Mark’s square. But there are too many pigeons and tourists around, I thought it would make my proposal somewhat ridiculous.
A stroke of luck came when I remembered the Doge’s palace had a grand, but much quieter, piazza of its own. On the spot, I decided that this was the place to do it, so as Anaab marvelled at the architecture I turned around and got down on one knee, pulling the ring out of my bag. She seemed confused, then shocked, and then started laughing as she Snapchatted me on one knee! I think I was still waiting for a yes at this point too, so that was fun. People started to stare, and although I originally wanted a picture of me proposing to Anaab with the both of us in it, I was too nervous to ask in case I stumbled upon some homophobic asshole. So here’s what I’ve got as evidence instead.
All that slav squatting was good preparation for being here QUITE SOME MINUTES!
With that done, we wandered around the palace, admiring the opulence we saw and laughing at things that were sort of funny. I thought there was a brother and sister there, and I thought that’s sweet, then they started snogging intensely which was a bit of a surprise. We took many Instagram worthy photos, too, and I’m pleased to say Anaab has used some of my Doge’s Palace snaps as her profile pictures. Guess I’m not such a terrible photographer after all!
Next up was the Campanile. I’d done this before, too, but owing to the fact it was misty for three days straight we really couldn’t see much.
What you should see, and what you could see.
We went to a cafe, and stumbled across a true delight. Near the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, we went to a place called Corner Pub, a small cafe which seemed cheap and locals were eating in. I didn’t have pasta, but I wish I did, because the next day my friend Damiano told us it was somewhere he goes very often. Oh well, my tiramisu was nice, and it was warm.
Now it was time to do something I hadn’t done before. Our host recommended a beautiful staircase, which was so hard to find we got lost at least three times, and almost ended up in a canal at one point. But it was worth it when we got there, and Anaab got her Instagram photos, so everybody wins.
But now for the moment we’d all been waiting for – Italian pizza time. Once again, on the recommendation of our host, we went to a non-touristy place nearby. It was really incredible, maybe a little pricey but there was so much choice of pizza and pasta. Somehow it tasted even better reheated when we got to London, what a mystery. The chef was very Italian and very friendly, I had some nice wine, so I think a good evening was had by all.
Pizza tricolore, like the Italian flag. The chef said as I cut into my pizza “gasp! You are cutting Italy”, which I thought was quite funny. His sense of humour was a little confusing.
On our short walk home, we walked past a massive church. Or so we thought. Then we thought it was a medicine museum, so we walked inside very tentatively, wondering whether the man at the entrance would charge us for tickets. He didn’t. How mysterious, we thought, this place is so grand they must charge for entrance!
Nope. Turns out this was the entrance to a fucking hospital, the world’s grandest by the looks of it. When I’m old I’m going to come here just so I can die in style. We walked around for quite some time, wondering how this beautiful old church was a fully operational hospital. I’m glad we went off the beaten track!
We went home thinking we’d watch some Italian X Factor, but it turns out it’s not on Saturday nights. Shame, we were hoping to catch a glimpse of Alvaro Soler, the beautiful Spanish singer we both love so very much. Alvaro, I’m still coming for you. We did catch a bit of Agatha Raisin with an Italian dub, though, so I was quite happy.
The next day, I met up with my old school friend who now studies in Venice, Damiano. We walked all around Venice, 25,000 steps! Also saw some fantastic places I’d never have known about, chatted to his flatmates, and I generally pretended to be a local with my macchiato and my takeaway pesto pasta. We did have a bit of an incident in the pasta shop though – the woman tried to tell me I didn’t need cheese on top because the pesto had cheese in it, nonsense say I, I want more. She did it but didn’t look very happy. That’s the second time it’s happened to me in Venice, too – don’t tell me how to live my life, folks.
I actually really hate this coat. It makes me look fat.
We also went to the top of some department store or other, which was super fancy, and had a terrace from which you could get a great view of the grand canal. Anaab joined us later on in the afternoon and we did some more walking around, went to a really cool bookshop which self identifies as the “world’s most beautiful”, which was nice. The man running the shop was a bit strange and bemused that we wanted to pet the cats but not talk to him much, but he was sat there smoking indoors and was a little confrontational, so maybe he hasn’t met many cat people before.
Trust Anaab and me to find the only cats in Venice.
After that, I drank more local wine with Damiano, and we headed to the airport boat. It was really lovely seeing him again, and I’m glad Anaab got to meet a local as well, I always think it can make a holiday really special if you have someone with you to show you the ropes. I’ll probably come back to Venice again, but there are many more places I want to explore with Anaab first. Here’s hoping she will come to Greece with me later in the year!
The fact our flights went okay has spurred my ambition to travel more this year. I needed some time to recover from flying once every two days in SE Asia, but now I’ve decided 2017 will be the year I finally make it to Australia. I really don’t like the idea of going all that way on my lonesome, but I have friends there I very much want to see, so I’m coming around to the idea of just sucking it up and doing it. Watch this space, everyone…
Airport boat selfie, arrivederci Italia!