After touring Rome and Barcelona the cobblestones had done their worst and my feet were aching. Sitting on the train to Venice was a relief! I struggled to stay awake and fight jet lag as we passed through beautiful countryside lush with vegetation. Small villages and churches situated high on rolling green hills dotted the land and I relished in the feeling of being so far from home.
While munching on crunchy biscotti and passing Florence I was excited to be getting closer to the city that sat at the top of my bucket list since checking off Paris and Dubai the year before.
I stayed in the small, quiet town of Mestre, a 12 minute bus ride from Venice. The accommodations in Venice were a bit old and worn so I booked at Hotel Antony which was modern, clean, comfortable and included all the amenities of North American hotels.
It is difficult and nearly impossible to explain the beauty and wonders of Venice because it is like no other city I have seen.
Beautiful old buildings in every color line the canals, bridges flowing with travelers arch over waterways and narrow cobble stone streets display beautiful shops of colorful Murano glass. As the sun sets you can enjoy a delicious meal right out on the sidewalk along the water. I fell in love with the old rustic architecture and the constant sea of boats and gondolas as soon as I laid eyes on the city. As Venice slowly sinks the steps leading up to some of the buildings are almost fully submerged, evidence of the high tides and erosion.
One thing I found enthralling about Venice was the traffic. In an average city you would expect to see cars emerging from side roads but in Venice boats pass down narrow streets of water and under bridges as you walk above. The heavy traffic is not from motorists but from tourists, there are no cars or traffic lights!
The first day after a long journey, I spent the evening shopping and having an amazing Italian dinner at Gino’s Pizzeria. It was the best Italian food I had during my trip! (location info for Gino's at the end of this post).
After getting some rest I started off the next day with a water taxi ride to St. Mark’s Square and Basilica. This area is one of the most crowded in Venice and annoying pigeons fly too close for comfort.
I also made a stop at Hotel Danieli which was a hotel I had first seen in the movie Only You starring Marisa Tomei.
You can easily get lost on the winding back streets of Venice. I enjoyed roaming the charming streets with no map and ducking into shops selling local glass jewelry and vases.
I made a quick stop at Pandora to get my Venice charm for my bracelet.
Rialto Bridge has one of the best vantage points of the Grand Canal. It is so scenic that I could have stood there for hours marveling at the beauty before me.
After taking countless unmarked streets and getting lost in the magic of Venice I stopped on the Grand Canal to have a drink and enjoy the ambiance. I watched people happily bob in gondolas as an elderly man sang beautiful Italian music that lulled me into relaxation.
Venice as the sun sets
The next day I took water taxi number 1 from Piazzale Roma all the way to Lido. Lido is a small island with a wonderful beach. I highly recommend this route because it is incredibly picturesque. You can sit outside on the boat as it passes all the beautiful attractions.
As the sun glistened off the surface of the water and the narrow canal opened into a basin of sparkling sea, a cool breeze enveloped as we passed a big white yacht. It felt like paradise, surreal in its splendor with an aura unlike any I have experienced in a city.
Lido is a great place to spend the afternoon swimming, walking along the beach, picnicking or trying all the delicious gelaterias on the island.
The beach is covered in a blanket of colorful sea shells!
Unlike Rome where there is an overwhelming amount to see and do Venice is more relaxed. After the main tourist attractions you can spend your days leisurely immersing yourself in culture.
*The bus or water taxi also takes you to Murano island where the famous colored glass is made.
* I recommend arranging transportation if you are staying in Venezia because carrying luggage through narrow streets can be difficult and many tourists get lost.
*Pick pockets are at large in Venice and usually circulate at major tourist attractions, on the metro, buses and in crowded areas. Make sure to lock all important documents such as passports in a safe if one is provided by your hotel. Never carry important documents and money in backpacks where they are out of sight.
*Many of the hotels in Venice are old and a bit worn. Even the ones with low star ratings are expensive due to location. For higher rated hotels you can easily spend €400-€600 per night.
*Mestre is a quick bus ride into Venice and accommodations are more affordable. At Antony Hotel where I stayed it was clean and had North American hotel amenities including a continental breakfast. It also had a great authentic Italian menu for dinner. You can find this hotel HERE
*Most restaurants charge a service fee of about 12%
*There are many great restaurants in Venice, the ones along the Grand Canal tend to be pricier and off the main canal they are more affordable.
*I highly recommend Gino's Ristorante Pizzeria located at Cannaregio 157-30121 Venezia tel: +35.41.716072 I ate there several times because they had the best Italian food I had on my entire trip!! I recommend the tagliolini pasta in porcino cream sauce, the margherita pizza and the tiramisu was the best I have ever had! The cafe late is also great for coffee drinkers and meals come with fresh Italian bread.
*Because of all the water there are mosquitoes, I suggest taking a repellent.
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*All photos are copyright of Diray of a Trendaholic and cannot be used, copied or altered in any way.*