Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Italy - Venice

Dedicated to the Grand Tourists of Yore

Who didn't have to cope with expensive internet cafes. $20 an hour in some places! Sheesh.

Venice has been a central point on the Grand Tour for centuries. I've even perused large texts on the singular role of Venice for Grand Tourists in the Uffizi Gallery. It was historically a base for artistic, cultural, diplomatic, sexual and international trade training for young European and particularly English aristocrats. I think I might need to set aside another couple of nights more than I had planned!

It's a very beautiful labyrinth, everything you have seen in the media is probably true. The postcard stands are laden with Carnivale images, the souvenir shops specialise in masks, marbled papers and bound books, Murano glass, laces, and objets d'arte of the most ostentatious European taste. Plus the usual romantic watercolours that pop up all over Italian cities - not to be disparaging of course.

It has been cold enough to cover my face in a fog from my breath, but the days are clear and brightly lit. I have learnt bridge etiquette, and how to rapidly locate myself on a wondrous little map. I also had a euphoric experience shopping in a supermarket for the first time in months. It was great! Heaps of sweet and realistically cheap Italian foods, in bulk and with immense choices available! I'm now well stocked for lunches, snacks and breakfasts.

I've also picked up a Museum Pass which gets me into heaps of places for only €10 total, and I've been planning much of my wandering around it. Most of today was spent in the vicinity of St Mark's Square, but I won't list all the places here.

Anyhow, must go. Much to do in very little time. Most the city is gorgeous at night, as I well know from being vaguely lost in it for three hours last night. Following locals can take you to interesting places, but sometimes it gets you stranded in the middle of nowhere...


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