A bit of an intro: For those of you that don’t yet know about my experience of Venice, I would like to make you completely aware that in my personal and professional opinion, it is in fact, the worst place in the entire world.
Now, I know I have said this before about select places including Edmonton, and any Tim Hortons drive-thru at 8 am, but this time I really mean it.
In the pre-Venice period of my life, I imagined hell to be a kind of hallway in which you are waiting in line for all of eternity, but now I know that hell is actually the city of Venice, specifically the mainland of Venice, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Venice is the biggest bitch I’ve ever met.
I would also like to make you aware that a good portion of the post you are about to read was written just days after my descent into hell a number of years ago, so there are a plethora of witty, sarcastic, and potentially bitchy comments here simply for your entertainment.
So please enjoy, have a laugh, while I stay awake at night remembering the horrors I had to endure.
Lastly, I’ll add that though there are usually multiple sides to every story, this is strictly my side based on the experiences I had and the people I met.
In no way are these stories in any way twisted to create a dialogue or even dramatized in the slightest (except for maybe this intro?), but rather the pure and utter truth of my time, down to the very letter.
If you happen to be the spawn of Satan himself, and actually enjoy Venice, well, I’ll apologize to you when Venice apologizes to me, which we both know that bitch doesn’t roll that way.
Nevertheless, I shall let you finally get to the juice of my piece, the creme de la creme, the blog post as requested by my Florentine roommates… the reason why I will never return to Venice.
I spent this last weekend in Venice, and I have to say it was one of the worst trips of my life. I’m sure all of my friends back home in Canada are feeling really bad for my awful European weekend, but seriously it was bad.
I’m about to take you on a journey involving tears, sunburns, used tampons, and deep fried cream cheese so be ready, here’s what a terrible weekend looks like.
This day started out just like any other, here in Florence. Got up, brushed my teeth, spent 25 minutes brushing my hair, missed breakfast and was somehow the last one downstairs for class. The only difference was that my roommate Jen, was feeling too sick to go on the trip she planned for the weekend and offered me her tickets for half price. After thinking about her proposition for all of 5 minutes, I gladly accepted. I then proceeded to book the only hostel in the city of Venice that was available and less than 100 Euros a night, Camp Jolly. God, even the name sounds stupid in retrospect. I figured that this kind of setup wouldn’t be too bad because another one of my roommates, Katy, had stayed at a camp similar to this one in Venice just a few weeks ago and loved it. What could go wrong, right?
Once class ended I headed right for the train station ready to embark on my new Italian journey. After a very long and very cold train ride, I arrived in Venice. And quickly I came to the realization that the city of Venice is actually a bunch of islands, and all of the mainland parts of the city is suburbs and factories. To be honest, I don’t know what I thought Venice was, but I was hoping it would be like The Tourist and a boat would just pick me up and take me places, and Johnny Depp would be my long lost lover. Neither of these things happened.
I walked off of the train and proceeded towards a man, who barely spoke any English, and purchased a map for about 5 Euros more than it was worth and exited the station. The instructions that my hostel had emailed to me, stated that I would want to “go across the road, and to the bus stop to catch the number 9”, but there was no road. Instead, I walked out and there were hundreds of people, and a canal. Confused, I figured that crossing the bridge right in front of me would be the best way to find this road I was supposed to cross.
I proceeded to walk for about 25 minutes, with men trying to sell me their knock-off Dolce and selfie sticks, and I still hadn’t found a road. I decided then to turn around, and go back to the train station to ask for directions, once I’d arrived back, I realized the only thing I’d eaten all day was gummy bears and a chocolate bar, so I decided to sit down at a restaurant and then find my way.
After I finished eating, I walked, as per the instructions I found through Google, to the bus stop and got on the number 9 bus. As I walked on I asked the bus driver, in a type of Eng-talian, if this was the correct bus to get me to the bus I wanted to go, and after he said no four or five times, he then said “just sit and I will get you where you need to go”. Little did I know that “where you need to go” in Italian means “about a two hour walk away from your destination” in English.
After a four hour journey, buses and walking included, I finally found the camp, checked in, and went the fuck to bed.
Excited for the day ahead of me, I woke up at 6 am and headed for the city. After 3 and a half hours (managed to cut it down by 30 minutes #pro) I arrived in the islands and began to route out my trip to San Marco’s Square.
I figured the best/fastest way to travel would be the water taxi, so I paid the ridiculously high fee of 10 euros and snatched a seat in the very back of the boat. For the full 30 minute ride, I sat there snapping pictures of the canal and it’s surroundings, and a man, about 25 I’d say, came up to me and asked if there would be a place that he would be able to see my photos online.
I sat there for a moment and considered telling him the truth, that I’m really just a poor student with nothing more than a blog and Instagram account, but I decided to go a different route.
“Actually, I work for a magazine, and I’m doing a story on the differences between tourists and travelers,” I said to him without thinking twice. Once I said it I came into a complete internal depression for the fact that it obviously wasn’t true, and that I hadn’t thought of the story before coming to Italy. This sparked up a conversation between us, and he asked me dozens of questions about my life as a journalist, which I answered honestly, with just a little bit of glitter on it.
Once we arrived at San Marco, I parted from my new friend, and National Geographic’s newest subscriber (yes I said I worked for National Geographic, judge me) and pushed my way through the crowds of salesmen and tourists taking pictures with their iPads.
San Marco was one of the most beautiful places I had seen in all of Italy. After touring multiple buildings and waiting in stupidly long lines, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day, so I decided to grab lunch within the piazza, (in which they charged me EIGHT EUROS FOR A GLASS OF COKE*).
Honestly, this is the part that makes my cheap ass the angriest. In what universe is this acceptable?
At this point, I wasn’t super happy with my time in Venice, but also didn’t completely hate it either. So I walked back to the train station to see if they would switch my train ticket so I could go back to Florence a day early. Once I got there, the woman at the service desk informed me that “there will be no more trains leaving today because of the storm”.
Being from Calgary, I found that this comment disgusted me deeply.
I thought, “you’re canceling all of the trains in and out of the city because of a little rain? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” As I was leaving the train station the once beautiful day clouded over slightly, and in my annoyance, I stomped back to the bus station for my long journey back to camp.
Luckily for me, I made it back to the camp before the slight drizzle turned into a freaking monsoon, and had a drink and the camp bar. With a slight buzz and a full stomach, I proceeded to my tent to read and watch Netflix.
I still had hope that the rest of my weekend would still have at least an ounce of goodness before heading back to the all so seemingly distant, Florence. As the rain started coming down harder and harder, the wifi connection that allowed me to have access to the outside world was becoming weaker and weaker. Then finally, the power went out.
With nothing to do in my pitch-black tent, I laid back on what I assumed to be a two dollar pillow and proceeded to try and fall asleep.
When suddenly… Drip, drip, drip.
I open my eyes in complete terror to find water leaking from the roof right onto my head. I was suddenly taken over by a rage that I’d only ever experienced one other time when I told my nine-year-old niece Charlotte she couldn’t play on my x-box and she replied with “go kill yourself.”
I shot right out of bed, put on my only clean pair of pants that weren’t pajamas and walked over to the reception building to demand that they put me in one of the cabins that were available.
When I opened the door to go outside, I was nearly swept off my feet by wind, and couldn’t see more than two feet in front of me, yes it was raining that hard.
I re-adjusted the zipper of my rain jacket (covering the majority of my chin) and braced myself for impact.
Within 5 seconds of being out in the rain, I was completely soaked from head to toe, and the puddles got deeper and deeper until the point that the water was up to my mid-thigh.
Once I finished swimming in what I can only assume was 40% sewage (the smell, oh my good god) I got to the reception building. It was filled with people who looked like what I assumed I also looked like (cold, afraid, angry and wet, very very wet), so I waited my turn and demanded a new room.
The woman behind the desk gave me a look that I can only describe as “purposeful bitch face” and told me that she would call someone to come and “make sure there was actually a hole in the tent”, and that IF there was, they would be happy to accommodate. Satisfied with that answer I swam back to my tent and changed into my dry pajamas.
Long story short… I sat there for about an hour and then realized that no one was coming to look at my hole. By the time I came to this realization, my very British tent mate named Andy came back from the storm and was somehow more soaked than I was.
Once I told him about the hole, he achieved a level of anger that surpassed any anger I had about the situation and began to attempt to DIY our tent so we would remain dry. Our attempts included tying my umbrella to the poles of the tent to catch the water (it leaked too), taping a ziplock bag to the roof to catch the water (the fact that he had duct tape was questionable in retrospect) and that proceeded to fill completely and land on top of us, making us again, wet.
We then, at three in the morning, put on our uncomfortably wet clothing and climbed on top of the tent and duct taped the bags on the exterior, which did stop the water from coming in, thank god.
It was then time for bed, and we were trying to figure out sleeping arrangements considering my bed was completely soaked, and our other tent mate’s bed was also soaked (from our ziplock invention). We decided that we would both share his bed, which was on the top bunk of the bunk bed, and we wept for the remainder of the night.
I woke up in complete shock that I actually managed to sleep at all, and that I wasn’t totally submerged in water. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining and I was ready to get the hell out of there. So I packed my bags, proceeded to yell at the reception lady (got my money back), and went directly to the bus to take me back to the islands.
Once I arrived back on the islands, I decided I was going to try and make the best of the rest of my time in Venice, so I did a little bit of exploring. I walked through neighbourhoods, parks, multiple piazzas and into various coffee shops. At this moment I really felt that I was enjoying my time in Venice until I looked at the clock and noticed I had an hour and a half before needing to be on my train, and I had no idea where I was.
Lost and confused, I pulled out my map in an attempt to find my way back to the train station. After about 5 minutes of staring, I was finally able to figure out where I was and started walking in what I thought would have been the right direction and no surprise at all, a small, but very powerful tornado wisped my map out of my hands and straight into the canal. (Okay, so I’m exaggerating here.)
For a moment, I considered dropping my things and following my map out into the ocean for a peaceful death, but as I approached the water, I noticed a used tampon floating along the edge, and that’s when I decided my attempt at suicide would be too much.
At some point, after this revolution, my legs seemed to have given out from under me, and I proceeded to lay in the middle of the street screaming bloody murder into the cobblestone. If you think I’m exaggerating, I’m about 90% sure it’s now on YouTube, because the screaming lasted for about 5 minutes and then carried over into weeping and cursing.
Once I decided to attempt to keep the very minimal pride that I had left, I decided to keep walking. With no map, and a dead cell phone, I was desperate, I had 1 hour and 23 minutes to catch a train I was NOT going to miss. As I walked by numerous people I attempted to ask for directions, luckily for me, everyone around me was either a tourist or didn’t speak any English and I was fed up.
In my rage, I walked up to a cute little cafe and proceeded to ask the host for directions. Unfortunately for him the only words that he knew in English were “no” and “go away”, and I did something I’d never done before. I grabbed him by his shoulders, started to shake him and screamed over and over again “WHERE IS THE TRAIN!?”
Thankfully, he decided not to punch me out but instead yelled out for the police, which again caused me to scream and storm off onto one of the side streets, leaving me with no hope, and no remaining pride.
Of course, about ten minutes later I found the train, as it was only a few blocks away.
This was it, this was finally it! I was on the train leaving Venice forever and I was ecstatic, and then the train stops. At first, the stopping of the train didn’t bother me much, I figured that we were switching tracks or something else that would be completely practical when being on a train. Then the conductor comes over the radio and says “blah, blah, Italian mumbo jumbo, terrorisimo, blah, blah, ISIS.”
After taking a minute to remember that I don’t actually know Italian, I asked the old lady next to me to loosely translate for me, to which she kindly explained that they believed an ISIS-affiliated bomb was on the tracks and we would remain here for the time being, and she then proceeded to start crying.
The first thought that came to my head at this time, had nothing to do with my family, friends or the life that I would leave behind if I were to die in an explosion, but rather something along the lines of, “this bitch just won’t let you live!!!”
In the amount of time it took me to come to terms with my death, a whole 2.5 seconds, everyone on the train (at least those I could see/hear) went from 0-60 and started freaking. the fuck. out.
In retrospect, I can imagine that my calmness was probably more alarming than comforting for most of the people around me, but at that point, I really couldn’t have cared less.
In the mix of the chaos, my lovely friend and translator, who was at this point both praying and weeping, allowed me to borrow her rosary, most likely thinking I would also pray.
But, I had no prayers and had come to a type of peace with my life, and proceeded to put my seat down in the laying position, place the rosary over my chest and sing Carrie Underwood’s Jesus Take the Wheel. I shit you not.
My singing started as a low hum and moved on to a full-blown American Idol audition performance. I’m confident that Simon Cowell would have given me a standing ovation for my performance.
Once the train started moving again, changing my plans for a quick and painless death, I looked out the window and saw the beauty of Venice. As much as I may have hated my time there, I realize now that there’s a plus side to my time there, I’ll never ever forget it. I took one last look as it faded off into the distance, and just like they would in the movies, I mouthed an awe-inspiring and whole-hearted “fuck you, bitch.”
THE END (thank God.)