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Half an hour away by vaporetto, Venice's waterbus, from the chaos of Saint Mark's square, is the Isola San Michele, a stopping point between the city of Venice and the island of Murano. Circling the city of Venice by boat towards the north, the lagoon is paved with small islands, but Isola San Michele turns heads. It is a small island surrounded by terracotta brick wall punctuated by arched tips at regular intervals. Cypress trees peer over the wall giving the appearance of a floating garden in the lagoon, until you pass round the front of the island and notice a grand entrance with three arched gates with white steps disappearing into the water. Above the gates is a simple white cross, marking the entrance to Venice's Island of the dead.
There is a sense of serenity when you step off the vaporetto onto the unstable platform at Isola San Michele. It is one of Venice's best-kept secrets, as most tourists will continue on the boat to Murano. The cemetery is both tranquil and surreal. Venice as a city is silent after the cruise ships go home, there are no cars and the only sound you'll hear are the occasional footsteps echoing through the alleys and sometimes a church bell. In the cemetery the silence is broken only by birdsong. Walking between the tall cypress trees, you are aware of crunching gravel beneath your feet and you feel something is out of place.
- Pepa Tencha, Calle de Apodaca 3, Metro Bilbao (Lines 1,4) and Tribunal (Lines 1,10) – Every Wednesday and Saturday from 8.30pm, this Italian Café offers a free "aperitif" alongside their affordable wine collection. The name is slightly misleading – it refers to an all you can eat buffet of pasta, polenta, salads and various dishes. If you're looking to eat nearly free in Madrid, this is the best place to come.
- El Tigre, Calle de Infantas 30, Metro Chueca (Line 5) and Gran Vía (Line 1 and 5) – El Tigre is the go to place in Madrid for free tapas. Buy a round of beers and get a plateful of delicious snacks to go with it, along with the lively ambience one comes to associate with this most Spanish of Spanish cities.
- La Paloma Blanca, Calle de Espiritu Santo 21, Metro Tribunal (Lines 1,10) - This small hole in the wall bar grants you a generous portion of food gratis with your beer. Expect bowls of tuna and pasta salad, accompanied by a fried egg and bread. Ideal for backpackers looking for a protein boost.