Second stop on our three day trip to Italy was Venice. We stayed overnight in Lido Di Jesolo and continued the second day by getting to the port terminal. Venice was welcoming us with a thunderstorm and clouds all around. How nice of her.
The boat we took is actually a public transport in here. For 20 eur you can get a daily ticket that will get you in and around Venice, including the surrounding islands of Murano, Burano and others. Unfortunately, the gondoliers won’t accept it.
The boats run every 30 minutes so it’s a pretty fast and easy way to commute around here. Unless you happened to have your own boat of course.
We got to Venice, got wet and bought a tourist umbrella. This holiday is looking fantastic.
Venice is not what I imagined. I expected some tourists, but not that many. I swear there are more tourists than pigeons and seagulls combined in here. I turned up in short, barely there, summer dress and my sister in low cut tshirt and skirt. We got some looks on the way in the boat where everyone was obviously prepared, wearing weatherproof jackets, holding umbrellas and trying to push a smile while struggling to stay dry.
As we came to the dock, our main focus was to make sure our skirts are not blown away. After that, hunting down an umbrella.
We walked across the Bridge of Sighs.
The bridge connects two buildings – Doge’s Palace with the prison buldings. The prisoners who were dragged from the Doge’s Palace to the prisons had a last chance to wave goodbye to freedom on this bridge. The canal under the bridge is supposed to be the most popular place to kiss in Venice, just in case you needed to know that.
Don’t get excited, there is nothing romantic about it. The bridge is over-run by tourists trying to take a picture or a selfie with a prison building in the background. Add a pile of umbrellas to the mix and you have the perfect recipe to spoil your whole trip.
From the bridge, it’s only a small walk to San Marco Square. Beautiful, monumental place with St Mark’s Basilica and Torre dell’Orologio tower.
You can get inside each of these buildings, but the queue to the basilica was a mile long (tower didn’t look as busy when we walked passed). If you want to visit, try off season or very early in the morning.
We thought we would wait out the rain in the small alleys and see what they have to offer.
We even discovered some beautiful canals that were not overcrowded with tourists.
After the rain eased off, things were starting to look a lot better. We thought we would enjoy a glass of wine by the canal and sit down at the nearest restaurant.
The view was just beautiful.
After a glass of Italian wine, I started feeling a lot warmer and hungry for more of Venice.
There were quite a few weddings we saw while walking around, this photo is from outside a town hall where one just took place.
Ah gondolas. They were everywhere. In some canals there were even traffic jams.
As we found out from our guide, it is actually a prestige job to be a gondolier, there is only a set number of people who can work as a gondolier. In the whole of Venice, there is only one female gondolier and she works for a hotel. Boats like this takes a real master to make, they are made from several types of wood and can cost as much as a Ferrari (not really, but it is expensive).
I think this picture illustrates the spirit of Venice. Be prepared when you get here. If you really want to enjoy the city without the crowds, I highly recommend getting up with the sunrise and enjoying the peace and empty streets on your own.
I am already planning my next trip here – this time I will stay in a hotel in the heart of Venice and venture out at sunrise to capture the beauty of the city before it’s spoiled with the crowds.
You can still discover some pretty amazing places, if you venture beyond the tourists hot-spots.
There was a little art gallery which we discovered on our way (we actually got lost and needed to buy a map to find our way back to the boat stop).
Heading back to the boat stop, the main square got very busy.
Think twice before you sit down to enjoy a coffee in St Marco’s Square.
They can charge you up to 20 eur for the pleasure.
And that was it for Venice. Despite the thunder, rain, wind and tourists, it is a beautiful city with a lot to offer – you just need to know how and where to find it. Few practical tips – we didn’t see any post boxes in Venice (if you buy postcards, you need to find other place to send them from).
Same goes for public toilets, your best bet is to visit a restaurant and use theirs. We didn’t find any cash points or banks – better carry a bit of cash with you in case you want to buy souvenirs (restaurants accept cards of course).
Get a map of Venice because it’s pretty easy to loose your way. The map also shows the boat stops for destinations in the other islands, so if you’re going to Murano or Burano you will know which boat stop to use to get there.