Hey guys! Time for my second to last Travel Journal post, featuring Europe! I kind of gave away which location this post would be about in my previous writing, but nevertheless, SURPRISE! This post will be all about my trip to Italy. The city of Venice was easily one of the most eye catching and gorgeous places we visited on the trip. After stepping out of the Eurail station from our journey from Paris, Venice automatically took my breath away. My first sight of Venice included bright buildings, pastel colors in the sky from the sunset, blue (yet very dirty) water, and large white bridges. Like a scene from a fairy tale. So to prevent me from rambling on, here are some photos. They don’t do it justice, but they sum up my experience here quite well.
Canals and Water Taxis
Since canals run throughout the entire city, they have boats called water taxis. They are exactly what they sound like: taxis that take you to different stops throughout the city. It was actually very fun riding boats to destinations instead of walking long distances like we had been doing the whole trip. With the unbelievable views, it felt like a little mini vacation every time we rode the taxis, even though at times they were filled to the brim with tourists like us, lol. In the fourth picture below, you can see what one of the stops looks like with the yellow stripes. Funny enough, the first time we took a water taxi, we boarded the dock and thought we were already on the boat. Really though, you board the dock and then board the boat as it drives by. We’ve had our naive moments, but sometimes that’s the fun of traveling, doing or experiencing something completely dumb!
I’ve Never had This Much Gelato In My Life!
So obviously, since we were in Italy, trying gelato was an absolute must! And let me tell you, none of us ever missed a chance to get gelato….even if that meant getting it three times a day. It was extremely hot and humid in Italy (like over 100 degrees), so not only was the gelato delicious, it also helped cool us down. I tried to order a completely different flavor every time to get out of my usual habits. Because what’s the fun in ordering the same flavor every single time, especially one I can find in the states?!
Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable
While in Venice, we attended an art show from an artist named Damien Hirst. I had only known of a couple of his pieces through my art history classes, so I only had a slight idea of what I should expect. There were two different locations of his show, called Treasure from the Wreck of the Unbelievable. The very first piece you see when walking into the first location is an enormous bronze statue that was designed to look like it was underwater for hundreds of years. I have a ton to say about his show, so to sum it up, all of his pieces are meant to look like they have been submerged in the ocean due to the wreck of a ship. We moved through the gallery assuming these pieces were from an actual wreckage from thousands of years ago. However we came across pieces like Mickey Mouse, characters from the Jungle Book, and even a self portrait of Damien Hirst himself! Something was fishy and it wasn’t the “underwater” wreckage. Did you see what I did there??
Even though the materials were listed right before our eyes, we started to question the truthfulness of what Damien was showing us. Was this actually a bronze statue? Were these actually submerged for so many years? My professor ended up asking us a very interesting question once we had gone through both locations of this show. What is the effect of having a show like this in a place like Venice? Since every piece in here was a fabricated story, is the city of Venice actually real and authentic? That really hit home to me, because although Venice is beautiful, it is definitely not the real Italian experience. Even though this could be a saddening thought, it really made me think in a different way than I ever had before about my surroundings. Things may not be as they seem, but at least you know that fact. You aren’t blind to anything and you know every side of it to form an educated opinion. And that goes for anything in life.
Venice is very much the Disneyland of Italy. It is geared towards tourists and what their expectations are of the Italian experience. Everything is a little too perfect and what you want it to be. If I were to go back, I would love to go to Rome or some other city in Italy where I can get 100% authenticity. That’s not to say Venice wasn’t a blast though, because it definitely was! It was a real city hundreds of years ago and the Venetians have actual history, but what it is now is a vision plucked from a tourist’s mind.
Some critics have review Damien’s show as a flop, a complete disaster. Others have raved about this show. As for myself, I fell in love with it! It was almost like a little puzzle we had to solve with each piece. From picking up on the SeaWorld logo carved on an “ancient” sword to giant sculptures of modern day scientists’ experiments on rats, we understood exactly what the artist was trying to get across. With the help and expertise of our professors of course! The combination of mythology, modern times, and imagination made for an unforgettable show and I’d gladly go see it again!
One of the reasons Italy was a stop for us was because of the Biennale. This is an art festival that brings together artists from every country. Their best artists showcase a piece and you walk around going to every country. This was very very fun for us and I took a ton of pictures! My favorite was by far the Finland exhibition, which is the weird creatures with faces and bright lights pictured down below. Let me know which piece you liked best from the photos! Also, please enjoy the photo of me with the Pepto Bismol Thinker. Sitting in it was part of the experience, lol.
One of my absolute favorite days we spent in Italy was at the Lido (or the BEACH!) Naturally, it made me feel right at home. The sand was blistering and instead of rocks along the beach there were small, unique shells. We took a swim for a while, and the sea was like bath water! Which is a huge change from the waters back home that are always cold from the currents coming from Alaska. It was also very shallow extremely far out, which is quite different from my home. Much more room to explore! One interesting thing that did happen was getting stung by a jellyfish! A couple of my friends got stung and I was skeptical until I got stung myself! It was a very small little jolt along my ankle, but still painful. Jellyfish blooms are apparently common along the Lido, nothing to be scared of though!
Extra Photos & Reflections
So of course at the end of every Travel Journal post, I like to include some extra photos and ending thoughts. Although the food or the culture was not exactly authentic, the beauty of Venice was 100% real, made up for tourists or not. I would definitely recommend this city if you want some great photography locations and a place that is very colorful (and where there is a lot of English speaking people, lol.)
Venezia, you are gorgeous beyond compare and made me understand so many different perspectives. You helped me realize ideas I now believe very strongly in and want to live my life by. Your art was incomparable and took my breath away; your beaches gave me a little memory of home while still being completely unique. See you in the future Italy and Viva Arte Viva! xx