Traveling by train, we crossed a large bridge heading towards the 100 small islands where the city was built. The classic stone architecture looked as if it had raised straight from the water, with jet boats circling the outer skirts of the structures. With no cars or roadways in site, we had a choice of walking or taking the canal taxi to our hotel. Feeling more adventurous, a walk seemed suitable with the town buzzing with energy from markets, tourists and fresh produce.
The Grand Canal
With only two nights here, there was no time to lose. We ventured to The Grand Canal for an iconic Gondola ride (if you pay them a little extra you’ll even get a song out of it)! Riding through the narrow, maze-like alleys and squares I was shocked to have not been swiped by a low hanging bridge or sharp cut corner. Regardless, it was idyllic and everything you could imagine it to be.
What I loved most were the traditional mask stores – each one was hand painted and crafted. I took my time to select a unique mask I would cherish for a lifetime. If you’re looking at purchasing a new leather bag, Venice is the place to be! Don’t make the same mistake I did and walk away empty handed.
Piazza San Marco
You’re able to see three major sights standing it just one square – the piazza San Marco is an experience in itself. Once in the square, you can tour St Mark’s Basilica – be sure to be wearing ‘appropriate’ clothing as I apparently… was not. Venice’s political and judicial hub can be found behind the door halfway down the right wall of the Church in San Marco, leading to the courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). If you’re up for it, take a walk up to Torre Dell’Orologio – the clock tower built between 1496 and 1506. Finally, if you’re a bird lover, grab a baguette from the local store and stay calm as you become over 100 pigeons’ best friend.
Dinner calls for Venice’s renowned culinary specialty – seafood! We were recommended the most beautiful seafood restaurant right on the canal. With vines hanging low and live music I thoroughly enjoyed it, eating the baby octopus and seafood marinara. There are hundreds of restaurants entwined through the streets, each looking to be a unique experience with fine, fresh food. Regardless of how full we felt, it wouldn’t stop us from getting some traditional Gelato on the way home. If you’re up for a boozier night, I heard the secret wine tours are really incredible.
Venice is an incredible city, one-of-a-kind to say the least. It is personable, quaint yet buzzing. You can feel the atmosphere as you walk around both day and night. The town has so much history… and you’re on such a high you forget the small store you’re standing in or rundown restaurant you’re dining in has been in operation for hundreds of generations.
I hope I provided an enriching insight to ‘the floating city’, and any recommendations from your visits to Venice is completely encouraged in comments below.