LIFE AND DEATH IN VENICE
You've heard of traffic congestion charges, where commuters have to pony up cash to enter the city? London has one. Toronto Mayor David Miller toyed with the idea but has chickened out.
Anyway, now they're talking about a "tourism congestion charge" in that overrun destination of Venice. Travel Mole reports a new, online booking service has been set up with a colour-coded calendar so tourists can opt for high season or quieter times of the year to visit when things will be cheaper. Details are a little unclear, but it seems tourists will be able to book tickets for water taxi rides, museum visits, parking spaces and even visits to the toilet.
Visitors will be able to choose from "green days," when only locals are around, to "blue days," which are shoulder times, or "red days," when everyone in Germany, Toronto and greater Omaha is parading around the city looking for a vacant vaporetto.
Apparently it could cost three euros - about $5 Canadian - to use a public toilet in peak season. So you might want to think about a visit in March.
It's funny how one day can form a lifelong impression of a place. I was traipsing around Europe with a backpack after graduating from university. (I went to school in the U.S. and it still sounds pretentious to say "I went to university." If you're in the states, you automatically say college, no matter if you went to Harvard or a community/junior college in Podunk, Iowa). Anyway, I arrived in Venice after a lovely few days in Florence with a bunch of Canadians, one of whom had the misfortune to marry me a couple years later, and was immediately ... underwhelmed.
Maybe I was laying on the Pepto Bismol that day. I seem to recall a spot of rain and a lot of haze. But whatever the reason, I found Venice kind of dirty and over-hyped. I hated the pigeons and I'm sure I couldn't afford a gondola ride, so I skedaddled north and enjoyed a terrific time in Switzerland.
Someday, I'll have to give Venice another chance. But not in July; the Star can't afford the toilet bills.