I spent a semester abroad in Germany in 2012. Since I was there in the spring, Easter happened and with it came a solid 2 weeks of break from university. I wasn’t sure where to go, but I eventually settled on Italy. The only issue was that I couldn’t really find accommodation. The flight itself was cheap, I think I paid around 50€ round trip, but lodging was much harder to come by. It seems that everyone else from Germany also wanted to go to Italy, so all the hostels were either full or only had incredibly expensive rooms left. Couchsurfing also didn’t prove fruitful as everyone was either busy/gone or already had a surfer.
I wasn’t sure what to do, going to another country without anywhere to sleep, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and went anyways. I could find somewhere to fall asleep. So I took a flight with only the essentials in my backpack, which was pretty much just a change of clothes and basic toiletries – it was quite empty. While at the airport, I actually ended up meeting another friend who was studying abroad with me. We almost had the exact same itinerary: Venice, Florence, and then Rome, with the same flight to and out of Italy. She actually had accommodations planned out, though and was going with some other friends of hers, so I didn’t see much of her after we landed in Venice and parted ways.
Venice was cool, and it was really pleasant to simply walking around up and down the streets and canals. It did, however, seem very expensive so I didn’t go to many restaurants or a lot of tourist attractions.
Since they don’t have cars on the majority of the island, a lot of service (like the fire department) and industrial vehicles were actually boats.
I ended up spending the night in a more residential looking area. I didn’t actually take a picture of it, mostly because I was trying to be discrete. I found a small hedge, and while it was still easy to see me sleeping behind it since the base of the hedge was pretty sparse, it provided some cover along the dark wall. I had pillaged some cardboard out of a recycling bin earlier in the day, and per a friend from Peru’s advice, I used it as a sleeping mat to keep the cold ground from directly touching me. It worked well enough, and with my jacket as a blanket, I didn’t get sick from sleeping outside. I slept fairly poorly, though, due to the chill and general alertness I had to wield while sleeping in such a vulnerable area. I ended up getting up at dawn and resumed my trek around the city.
I was still tired, and after finding this garden, I reclined on one of the benches and took a much-needed nap in the warm sunshine.
This was not far from where I slept (I slept in the same spot every night since I knew it already). I just chilled for a while till it got later and listened to a person playing the accordion as he tried to get money from people at restaurants. I then sneaked off to my spot once the city started to call asleep.
After I went to sleep, I was awakened to a light sprinkling of rain on my face. It was in the early morning, the sky gray, but the sun still hiding over the horizon. I was still incredibly tired, so I ended up trudging towards someone’s front door that had a small overhang of about one square meter to keep the rain away. I wearily laid down and continued to nap, hoping that the resident didn’t need to leave that early in the morning. I was lucky, and they didn’t, allowing me to sleep for another couple hours before finally deciding to get up.
I really felt like it came straight of the Harry Potter world when I saw it.
This is the main Cathedral in Venice, and it is quite large. When the island seemed as tight as it did, it is amazing that so much space gets devoted to one building.
I didn’t go in immediately because the line was so long. Instead, I walked along the city to see what else there was to see.
This seemed to be some military area, complete with guards walking around and the occasional military boat that came through.
After walking for a bit more, I stumbled upon the Naval Historical Museum which was cheap enough to warrant going inside.
My hand is next to it to show the size comparison. I don’t even know how they lifted or used those things.
There was plenty more, but my lack of memory on each thing and the general bad photo quality of other photos will force me to omit them. After leaving the museum, I started making my way back to the basilica.
There seemed to be some event where tons of boats were going through the canals. There were lots of international flags too, so it was definitely a big deal.
I think I then found out you had to pay more than I wanted to, so I just snapped an (unfortunately blurry) photo from the entryway before leaving again…
There were still boats rowing through the city hours later.
This lasted for hours, a continuous stream of boats gliding across the water. I watched it for a while until I caught the ferry I needed to get back to mainland Italy, where I met up with some Germans through a car sharing website I regularly use. We then all drove to Florence, my next destination.