Originally uploaded by Pat and Amy’s pics

Between finishing our time in Europe and heading to Mexico, we haven’t posted much recently. So, this is the first of three posts describing our last city visits in Europe (Venice, Paris, and a last goodbye to friends in Cork).

As we mapped out the ever-changing itinerary of our final weeks in Europe, Venice was the big question mark. On the one hand, it is a unique city of incredible beauty. On the other, it’s terribly expensive and overrun with tourists, even more so than other parts of Italy. Amy recently read a blog about a couple who had visited Venice and experienced a bit of shock when they got their bill for coffee at St. Mark’s square, most of it just for the privilege of sitting. Also, we had just read an article in National Geographic which explained that the tourist numbers keep increasing and the local population keeps dwindling, and the negative effects all that was having on the city.

In the end we couldn’t pass up the chance to go so we decided on a quick two-day visit. We arrived early on a Sunday morning, dropped our bags at our hotel, and wandered through the streets of the city, heading in the direction of St. Mark’s square, one of the main attractions of Venice. Because it was still so early and it was Sunday the square was pretty empty when we got there. It was a rare treat to be in such a place without fighting the crowds.

That entire first day was good. Venice is, of course, like no other city in the world, yet it’s all so familiar because of countless movies and TV shows. Amy described it as being on a big movie set, a feeling we had at times in London. I don’t need to describe what it’s like because even if you haven’t been there, you know already.

The second day we experienced all the things we had disliked about Italy the first time around, and a few extras to boot. It was Monday, so all the tourists were still there but the locals were also out in force heading to work, turning the charming narrow streets into claustrophobia-inducing torture chambers (and that’s from someone who loves caving). Nothing was as good as the day before, including our lunch, which was small, mediocre and expensive.

Worst of all, we made the decision to leave our bags at the train station (we were headed out to Paris that night) rather than at the hotel to save us time later. Unfortunately it meant spending €13 on a 15-minute vaporetto ride, basically the Venice equivalent of a bus ride. Then we stood in line for 45 minutes to leave three bags that would later cost us around €20 to reclaim. Every decision we seemed to make that day led to increased costs, long waits and crowds.

As we boarded the train to Paris, we were so glad to have seen Venice and to have experienced it, but we were pretty happy to leave, too.