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Venice: Homeless, Sleepless,


Eventually, after all of the shenanigans of the previous 24hrs I got to Venice early Tuesday morning. Before coming to Venice I had arranged, using the peer-to-peer accommodation sharing community, Couchsurfing, to be staying in a good Samaritan’s home in Mestre in the Venice suburbs. We were supposed to meet up at 9pm that evening but something came up for my host which prevented them from hosting me that evening. So, I would be homeless for the second night on my trip, yet, surprisingly, I wasn’t worried.

Rewind to 11am. I had been walking around Venice for hours and needed to take the weight off my shoulders big time! On a quest to find a resting place I stumbled across the most tranquil spot in Venice. It is situated away from the tourists, on the Grand Canal, there are stone steps leading into the canal, a constant stream of activity plays out in front of you, mayhem as boat after boat packed with shutter-ready tourists carefully cruise by, the odd one will catch your eye and may even exchange a smile or a wave. This is the city where tourists outnumber residents by 100:1. The sound of waves lapping against the buildings is as peaceful as it gets and the low hum of the boat engines is a welcome contrast to the gas-guzzling automobile engines that pollute every other city. This is my place in Venice.

Hours I spent here, chilling and taking in the atmosphere. A few tourists stumbled upon me but none stayed for longer than a minute. Then, all of a sudden, a girl is sitting beside me. I was kind of shocked. Curious, we started chatting. Silvia be it her name. It turns out that my spot is hers also! Every lunchtime she would come to this spot, a welcome hour of serenity from her job as an architect. One Facebook friend later she returns to work. Maybe she was the reason I didn’t panic later on when my Couchsurfing host cancelled. We connected in the few minutes we shared together in OUR spot.

Back to 4pm and I have just been informed that I am to be homeless again. Silvia offers to help me find a place to stay. We arrange to meet up with her friends that evening, get the Venice experience of going for ‘cicchetti’, Venetian tapas, and ‘ombras’ of wine, listen to her friend play cello and drink beer in the ‘campos’ (a tradition that would be fantastic in Ireland). The moment of truth came at about 10 when Silvia and friends offered their couch for me to sleep on. Relief flooded over me. I was going to get proper sleep!

On our way to the ferry we passed by their old architecture school. The door was ajar, we snuck in. This was the first time that they had revisited the school since they graduated 8 years previously. This was extremely unbelievable, here I was in a secondary school at 10:30pm on a Tuesday with Venetians who I had only met hours ago experiencing them returning to somewhere they had spent 5 years of their life. Emotions flooded over them as they retraced their teenage selves steps into various classrooms and even the toilets.

Arrive at the dock and we try to buy a ticket for me using the machine. Looking for payment the machine decides to malfunction and shut off any method of paying. We would just have to chance no on-board inspection and €200 fine. 

If Venice is beautiful by day then it is exquisite by night, especially from a boat. Magnificent feats of architecture scattered along the water illuminated in such a fashion that displays the buildings in their wonderously aestheticly pleasing glory is a sight to behold. 

Never has a shower and a bed been so appreciated than when we made it back to Silvia’s apartment. Her flatmates had a homemade Sardinian liqueur made from the myrtle plant. Taste, if Jagermeister did blueberry flavour – delicious and strong! 

Sweet sweet sleep

Oisín Hoy

Oisín Hoy

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