Monday, 29 September 2008

The Origination of ARIA: Pilgrimage Day 1

My trip report, left out until the end due to the sheer amount of ARIA material I found. Please take a look at the archives navigation bar on the right hand side!


April 01, 2008

The day started at 4am for last minute packing and breakfast and they were finished ahead of schedule, which meant I had 24 minutes to watch something very important on my laptop before leaving for the airport - ARIA the Origination finale, which had aired 11 hours prior. A very symbolic start to my ARIA-inspired trip to Venice.
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A worthy note that I refused to carry any ARIA material on grounds that I wanted a relaxing vacation rather than running around matching things.

My very first flight on a true budget airline (Easyjet) and the flight left on time, the service excellent and it was only £50 return! I got a good view of the Alps and much more as I had strategically grabbed the emergency exit seat on the right hand side of the aircraft, and my gamble paid off during the final approach.
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We arrived at Venice Marco Polo at 11:30am and the immigration was very fast - then things went downhill. Any bus journeys starting from the airport incurred a surcharge. What a rip. I had also planned to carry my backpack around for the day but it was too heavy for my mum. Instead of the bus to Venezia, we hopped onto the one bound for Mestre to drop off our stuff. We took the local ACTV bus because it was cheaper than the express bus and would give us a true slice-of-life experience. At Mestre, we missed the hourly bus to our accomodation while my mum was getting me a cheese Panini. That was the last straw - we dumped our stuff at the Mestre rail station and took the next bus bound for Venezia!

My walking route for Day 1. Only a general view and excludes random alley exploration! RED -> BLUE -> PINK. The bottom left corner is not a joke!
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I finally arrived in Venezia at 2pm. Weather was pleasantly cool, sunny but extremely hazy. One of my first sights after arrival was how the putrid water shimmered under the arch of the bridge.
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More pictures of my first impression...
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A dead end from mapless alley exploration!
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Random church, and docked Gondolas.
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By this time, I was getting rather disappointed with Venice. The buildings looked rather run-down and crumbling, a fair bit of graffiti and some derelict houses, evidence of the declining Venezian populace.
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I was on the constant lookout for Traghettos. I did not have any idea where Traghetto Santa Sofia is - which was the location of ARIA the Origination ep04. I would later find out my map mislabled it as Pescaria. Nonetheless, I totally lucked out as I happened to be in the area and saw the sign for Traghetto Santa Sofia! Unfortunately, the market was closed but the place smelled strongly of fish. After waiting, I hopped onto the Traghetto which cost €0.60. With a load factor of 3 passengers, I could sit and snap away pictures!
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Some houses are built over alleys. The top of the tunnel is made of wood...as my mum sets out checking out the food.
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The main throughfare to Rialto and Rialto itself reeked of total tourist consumerism. It was packed with lemmings and shops selling near-identical merchandise - and this was LOW season! My impression of Venice declines further as not only was it run-down but I've never seen such a blatent tourist trap. I felt sick. At least the Grand Canal was pretty.
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Needless to say, this was my one and only time to cross the Rialto bridge. We soon took refuge in the quieter alleys. Luckily, the tourist crowd only stick to certain streets. A random fountain in a quiet alley, and an ARIA reference - chrysanthenum.
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We got ripped off on my first Gelato purchase - bloody lady gave us small scoops. My impression of Venice gone even lower. We soon made it to the Scalzi bridge and the Church which appears only once in ARIA (the Origination ep12).
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We then walked around the Cannaregio Canal and its environs. We found a CO-OP store selling very cheap provisions where we bought bread, water and snacks for meal substitution in the coming days.
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Then we did something totally criminal - we had dinner at a chinese restaurant on the grounds of familiarity, price and how it fills you up quickly! Then a walk through the Jewish ghetto - we saw some Hebrew signs there and a little more alley exploration. It was sunset by now and we hopped on the bus to Mestre to collect our luggage before hopping on the hourly bus to our accomodation at Fusina!

We checked in at 9pm, totally exhausted only to hear even more bad news. To the Italian boat operator, "April" meant the second week of April - which meant the last sailing Venice -> Fusina would be 6pm, instead of 8pm. I was beyond disappointed, but at least the trailerhome was clean, heating worked well and the shared shower/toilets were the cleanest I've ever experienced. All for €30 a night for two, not bad at all. Sleep came at around 11pm.

To sum it up I felt emotionally dry upon arrival to Venezia and was stressed, angry and disappointed. The best highlight being Traghetto Santa Sofia but in retrospect, I managed to get some great pictures which I did not appreciate at the time. Fortunately, Day 2 was to prove very different.

5 comments:

WiLL said...

Ah, yes, the "Ai-chan syndrome" as I call it. Y'know, it was later discovered, that in fact, I was in Venice for two days, but I was so disappointed with the first day, that I completely forgot about it. But just like Ai-chan, and you, for the second look, Venice were something else... like the closest place to paradise.

And I hate tourists, too. I think, most tourist leave the town the same as we felt during our first day. To enjoy Venice in all it's might, you have to throw your map to the bin, and set out for a real exploration!

nekosasu said...

Haha, finally your trip report! :D

Well, I think you omitted an important fact which totally changed your experience in the first day: Venice is, of course, primarily a tourist city, so you should have been prepared to be ripped off. (Who am I to speak, buying water bottles at 3 Euro each... lol) Also, I had already been warned by a lot of people beforehand that everything wouldn't be as beautiful (especially tourists and the water) as in the anime, so I wouldn't really be disillusioned upon arriving in Venice. But then again, if I had experienced the same woes you did with the train (how less slice of life is it than the bus?) and the boat, I probably would have thought the same.

As such, I guess my experience was more of a Akari-like "Sutekiiiii", haha.

There were a few funny coincidences in your post. For example, I almost thought you had taken the screenshot from in one of my Origination posts, but I was mistaken (not that I would mind, in your case at at least).
It's pretty obvious that pictures of important buildings and places were often taken from the same angle, but... I found it very "makafushigi" (to quote Akari again) that we took pictures of the same fountain!! How slim are the odds?

And, even though you said you refused taking any material to avoid running around matching things, it's quite clear that you can't just unsee ARIA and try to match things on your own ^^ Instead of pretending to assuming a different motivation, you might have as well just have enjoyed a relaxing vacation with material ;) But I think I see things a bit differently anyway, so I won't say anything further or else I'll be hated.

Ah well. Enough rambling, I'm looking forward to your second day. Oh and, those photos taken from the plane are just gorgeous!!!

Inthernet said...

@Will
You'll be glad to know I never dumped my map!

@neko
And I thought I came from a tourist city - the main streets were just...well nvm! We managed to find cheap food from the CO-OP shops pretty quickly which was good.

The Origination finale screenie is indeed mine - cranked up VLC just to take it and resized in photoshop...but yes, that water fountain is freaky!

Even without material, I remembered a fair bit of ARIA in general and the show really helped to act as a proxy tour guidebook!

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

> By this time, I was getting rather disappointed with Venice. The buildings looked rather run-down and crumbling, a fair bit of graffiti and some derelict houses, evidence of the declining Venezian populace. <

You know what, if we could plant undines in Manhome-Venice, maybe things would turn for the better!

Here in Hungary we traditionally have a lot of world-class kayak and canoe athletes, men as well as ladies. Most of the top ladies decided to retire from racing after the Beijing Olympics, but some said it was a pity to drop the oar completely.

Though, even if I had the money to buy the luxury hotel for them to form proto-Himeya, they would not be allowed to work anyhow. Look what happened to Alexandra Hai.

Stupidly ultra-conservative, yet left-leaning Venice deserves its fate somehow.

BTW, venetians have two complaints in general:
1., Too many tourists, which destroys the city.
2., Tourists stay too little and spend too little.
3., They do not realize that points 1 and 2 are partially contradicting...

Finally your mistake was to hotel on the mainland. Every guidebook says that's "kiishi", because you lose the very atmosphere of the place. Mestre and the like should be razed, they are a disgrace on the face of Veneto!

There are dirt cheap (and dirty, run-down) hotels in historic Venice, even adjacent to the centre. Staying there is probably a better deal if you don't mind flea bites (which can be infectious).

Inthernet said...

@Tamas Feher
Venetians are indeed a bit of a strange bunch when it comes to attitudes and sexism. Surprisingly, points 1 and 2 aren't completely contradicting however, because most tourists are "hit-and-run" who only go for a day trip. They want fewer but longer-staying tourists (who spend more per head).

As for spending too little, it is *way* too easy to get free vaporetto/bus rides. I bought tickets but was never checked. Putting ticket inspectors on them would greatly increase revenue!

While staying on the mainland was a bit of a pain, arriving to Venice by boat every morning had its very unique feeling - and I totally mind flea bites...yuck! Where I stayed was the cleanest hostel ever.