Venice had a strange effect on me. I’m usually not into shopping for souvenirs but I became completely and utterly obsessed with finding the perfect Venetian theatre mask. Upon walking into the city you are bombarded with tourist shops selling an assortment of gifts and crafts including theatre masks (the ballroom kind), joker masks, capes, fans and Morano glass products. There is so much detail put into these goods and they are really beautiful, but there are just so many of them. They are so bright and colorful and the glass so shiny! Having so many stores with almost exactly the same thing is overwhelming. I spent two days trying to find the perfect joker mask, with just the right colors. My search for a mask reminded me in some strange way of using Adobe Illustrator: you have the power to make a picture into exactly what you want to create, but there are just so many options. I don’t want to make a layer, use the hand, zoom, slice or eyedropper tool. I just want to make my picture smaller! I was so satisfied when I finally made my decision. For 25€ I got an amazing green with gold trimmed mask that I could take home and stick on my fireplace.
I bought the rolling Venice card for 22€ (only for people between 14 and 29 when I was there) which gave me unlimited access on the ferries for 72 hours: a big saving considering the only way to get anywhere in Venice is to take these boats and each 60 min pass is 6€50. The boats are very relaxing and one of the nicest ways to see a lot of the town without walking, especially on the ship deck looking out to the water. The traditional gondola ride is around 70€, but I was satisfied with the ferries.
Prices in Venice are high, try to stay away from internet for your stay (8€/hour) and they charge a full, crazy euro to use the toilet. However, to make up for this the city has free fountains for water conveniently located all around which is a nice treat.
I stayed in the old part of Venice (train stop Venezia S. Lucia) at the Ostello Santa Fosca. It cost about 18€ for a 4 bed dorm (20€ a night without the rolling Venice card). It was a very central location and great value for the price: I preferred its location to that of the Hostelling International hostel which is in a more isolated, industrial feeling area forcing travelers to take ferries to see any sites. Many places can be walked to from the Ostello Santa Fosca.
A day trip out to the island Lido is very refreshing. Venice can feel draining in some parts since it doesn’t have much vegetation in the old town and the air quality is poor, however, Lido is like a totally different world. There are palm trees, spacious streets and a beautiful powder soft sandy beach. Lido is a strip of island that separates the mainland from the Adriatic Sea. The water on the beach was warm and calm enough to swim comfortably in, even for weaker swimmers. There is a lifeguard on the public (sometimes quite busy) beach which gave me some confidence to frontcrawl my way out pretty far away from shore. The water has poor visibility due to its silt content. The downside to this is that I couldn’t avoid the jellyfish (and potentially sharks?) which I got stung by. On the plus side the silt in the water greatly reduced sunburn for my sun-sensitive white Canadian skin!