Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

For your viewing enjoyment ladies and gentlemen, I present to you weekly Friday photos.  Please don’t make me explain. They’re photos. One a week. On Fridays.

This is a canal. In Venice. It really is this color and no it didn't smell bad. There were no gondoliers, this being December and bloody cold.


And this week’s feature is Venice, that rotting heap that took all my money and in exchange gave me a moldy pizza.  Don’t be fooled by the pretty pictures, Venice is just trying to lure you in so it can beat you with a lead pipe, take your wallet, and leave you gasping in some smelly alley (that probably smells like moldy pizza.)


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I guess it’s time for another blog post, since I haven’t updated it in five days.  These have been a busy five days, though.  After spending two amazing weeks in Budapest, I didn’t have time to go to Croatia, so I’ll save that for another trip.  No worries.  From what I hear, it’s absolutely dead at this time of year and most things are closed anyways.  So instead, I am doing a whirlwind tour of Italy in six days before staying with friends in France this weekend. Then it’s off to Madrid to meet another friend on Tuesday.  And then we have fifteen days to fly through France, Spain and Portugal before she flies back home and I, I go straight back to Budapest to spend the rest of my time in the city I have a passionate love affair with. 

I got into Venice on Friday morning on the overnight train from Vienna.  Venice is one of those cities that you hear so much about, you don’t really know what to expect–well, you think you know exactly what to expect, but it never turns out ot be right.  In this case, the poor city has a lot to live up to, and unfortunately, it didn’t really manage to live up to anything.  I didn’t like Venice much.  I didn’t hate it, but two days was more than enough.  You can walk through the entire thing in a few hours, and other than a few churches and the Doge’s palace, there isn’t much to do.  The nightlife is absolutely nonexistent.  My second night, a Chilean guy that I’d met and I went to the university quarter where we’d been promised the nightlife was.  A few caffes that served beer were still open, with people quietly sipping at their €6 beers.  There weren’t many, and it wasn’t great.  We each had one beer and gave it up for lost. 

The city itself is shabby, faded splendor.  The canals aren’t dirty, though.  In fact, they were a brilliant shade of blue-green.  Some people say that Venice stinks.  I suppose, if you prefer the scent of exhaust and car fumes over the smell of brine and seawater.  At different times of the year, I’ve heard it’s worse, though and sometimes smells like sewers.  It didn’t while I was there.

I don’t even want to go into how much those two days in the canals cost me.  I didn’t even do anything: I didn’t pay any admission fees, public transportation costs, or go out at night, but the cost of food and my hostel was so high that I didn’t have money for that anyways.  I paid nine euro for a small, bad, take-away pizza one night.  The hostel of course didn’t have a kitchen, so I couldn’t cook for myself.  Not that the supermarket was affordable, but it was better than thirteen dollar pizzas. 

On Sunday morning I went to Florence.  This city was if possible, even worse.  After two days of walking its streets nonstop we came to a sort of peace.  I don’t hate the place, but it’s nothing I would ever go back to again.  There is a small, attractive mediaval section, packed with designer clothing shops, leather stores, Christmas decorations, and tourists, and then surrounding that is the rest of the quite unattractive city.  They even make you pay to go see the statue of David.  The only part of Florence that I really liked was the Christmas market.  You can get everything there, from leather goods to Venetian masks to hats to boxer shorts to watches to fake Louis Vuitton bags, and even better, unlike most Christmas markets I’ve been to, there is lively negotiating going on; it’s crowded with people; and it’s not kitschy. 

And this morning I went to Rome.  This is such a strange place.  It’s smaller than I expected, and not as crowded with Vespas.  But what it is full of are ruins, thousand upon thousands of them.  Everywhere you look there is an excavation site, or maybe just a crumbling Roman watchtower crammed between a billboard for Prada and an apartment building, and it’s absolutely ridiculous.  I went to the Coliseum today.  It was about what I expected.  Quite impressive, but so crowded with tourists even on a drizzly December afternoon that it was difficult to get any good pictures. 

So far, Italy overall, I haven’t even come close to falling in love with.  If I hear ‘caio, bella’ one more time I am going to punch the offender in the head.  The cities are shabby and ugly and would look right at home in Serbia, except that the prices are positively Scandinavian.  The food isn’t my favorite.  I prefer Asian food in Budapest.  Although to be fair I have found Rome very affordable.  My hostel is cheaper than the one in Budapest, and food is not too expensive as long as you stay away from the city center.

Anyhoo, I have to go.  The computer has been tied up for long enough.  I’ll be back soon with another post, hopefully before I go to France.   I have a lot more to say about Italia. 

And Budapest.  Ahhhhh, I miss Budapest like crazy.  Every night I look for cso cso tables, but you know what? The rest of the world is lame.  I think I have found my Mecca and it is in Hungary.  Time to start learning Magyar.

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