After a 3 hour ride in a cabinet styled train (as in Anastasia- unfortunately they are not as cool as it looked in the movie) we finally reached Venice where water was everywhere. How gorgeous is this picture of sunset in Venice (right)?
Everything was so pictueresque, especially the gondolas. Unfortunately, we didn't go on them because they were a whooping 100 euros for 45 minutes. Besides, I've already been on it before, I'd rather have a pair of boots. On the left, we have a picture of the "Bridge of Sigh." And no, it is not as romantic as it sounds, because it is the bridge where prisoners used to pass through on their way to prison or to executions. Other touristy things to see is the Basillica of San Marco (left) and the Palace of the Doges (right). I love how the architecture in Venice is so different from that of Paris and Milan. In times of high tide, the piazza (left) is actually flooded and gondolas can actually float on it sometimes. I know, hard to believe. When we saw the postcard pictures, we thought they were computer edited! Oh and that lamp post was where we took a twirling around the lampost picture :P.
So again, all the touristy things were basically concentrated in the San Marco Piazza area where we lived. While the piazza looks pretty, in real life it is not quite so. The floor is slippery even though it didn't rain, because of the excess amount of pigeon poop on the floor. Pigeons were everywhere. We saw them all sitting on the ledge in the morning (left) and the amount of them was terrifying. People should stop feeding them (right).
Another place to go to in Venice is the island of Murano, where the glass factories are located. There, you get to see them blow glasses. George (left) here was fabulous. He made a vase in 5 minutes and literally pulled a horse out of that burning red thing with a few clever moves. These excursions are usually free because they want you to buy something from them afterwards and everything is super expensive. Red glass (right) is most expensive because the coloring is made of gold. And that purplish/brown color last one on the right is the official Venetian color. For cheaper options they have some "second rate" glass work around which are not too bad.
Another very Venetian thing to buy is masks. They have them in all shapes and prices. There were some very intricate and gorgeous ones. But I settled for a simple white and gold half mask . . maybe for halloween?
Our next stop, which took a grueling 6 hours train ride to reach, was Geneva. Highlights in Geneva include this Jet L'eau spring thing (left), this clock (right)(the missing numbers of the clock are on the outside). .
. . and the United Nations headquarters. Unfortunately they blocked off this official entrance, so we could only take pictures from this angle (left) and had to go in the back way. A tip for anyone planning to go in as a group, enter seperately, so they'd give you your own visitors badge with your picture on it. A great free souvineer. There we took a tour and saw a PEACOCK just wandering freely on the grounds. It was bizarre. Turns out the land used to be a peacock garden owned by the originally owner.
So really, Geneva is not much of a touristy spot. One day is more than enough to see everything. What they are more known for however is watches. All the famous brands are here: Patek Phillipe, Rolex, Charriol, Piaget, Swatch. . . . you name it. Although they are all very expensive of course. Oddly enough, Swatch was actually more expensive there too! In the end, we ended up with engraved Swiss Army knives to bring back home.
And that concludes my 7th week diary. Overall it was an awesome experience, but my favourite places were Milan and Lugano. Milan because it was just so much fun. And Lugano because it was so different from places I usually go to. Getting to drive a speed boat in the middle of a beautiful lake (even though it wasn't going too fast) was definitely memorable ;).