Get Lost in Venice
While Venice is known as the “City of Canals,” did you know there are also around 400 bridges and narrow streets that connect the city. The city has a long and interesting history that is almost perfectly preserved over 118 small islands. Venice has become a tourist playground, welcoming in about 20 million visitors per year. There are rumors that Venice may begin capping the number of tourists per year, so don’t delay on your trip planning! Hubs and I were lucky enough to snag a hotel room, at an exorbitant rate, on the Grand Canal and enjoy this beautiful city for a few days. My travel advice for Venice specifically – get lost.
Now, I should have prefaced that advice with the fact that I am the ultimate planner. Most of our trips are planned out months in advance with all the tickets purchased and itineraries plotted out down to the minute. For some, this is not the way to travel. For me, I don’t want to miss anything because of a planning oversight. But, when we were planning the trip to Venice, all I could think about was a Gondola ride and pasta. So, we planned nothing. NOTHING. We booked the hotel and focused on our other stops in Europe. Eventually, the day came when we were saying our farewell to Slovenia and getting on GoOpti (a small bus) to Italy. The trip took about two hours before we were being dropped off right at the mouth of the Grand Canal. I highly recommend looking into GoOpti as a transfer option in Europe. They also do airport transfers. Sorry for that slight delay, back to Venice.
Now, first pro tip – DO NOT TAKE THE PRIVATE WATER TAXI. The private water taxis are 60 – 80 Euros, and it is a good way to blow an insane amount of money immediately. If you turn left from where the private water taxis are, and walk towards the train station, you will see booths selling tickets for the public water taxi. For 6 euros apiece, you can hop on what looks like a small ferry boat and be dropped off within walking distance of many of the major attractions and hotels. We stayed at Hotel L’Orologio off the Rialto Mercato stop, and the ride took about 15 minutes. The ferry boats run up and down both sides of the Grand Canal, with a boat coming about every 12 minutes.
Our first night we did a little bit of shopping and had dinner at Bistrot de Venise. Hubs had found the restaurant on TripAdvisor, and so did many other tourists. We quickly discovered there is a reason it is ranked number one. There are several Venice inspired tasting menus, and the food was incredible on top of a wonderful atmosphere and attentive wait staff. The restaurant is a short walk from Saint Mark’s Square, so after finishing dinner, we walked over to see the church, hoping that it would not be as busy at night. Wrong. It was extremely crowded and there was live music. Italian singers’ voices filled the air from stages set up at several different outdoor restaurants, with crowds gathering outside to listen. Tourists’ camera flashes filled the night sky as they tried to capture the iconic Saint Mark’s Basilica lit up by spotlights. There is so much energy in the air it makes you want to dance on the cobblestone, and you can see why romance is synonymous with the city. As we made our way back through the dimly lit streets, we felts as though we had stepped back in time. You can imagine ancient Venetians hidden behind masks up to no good down one of the dark alleyways. (Look up the history of Venetian masks in your downtime, it is fascinating and will help you understand why so many shops are filled with intricately designed masks).
The next morning hubs and I decided to ‘get lost.’ He wanted to walk the entire island, and I had plans to see the famous art gallery, Gallerie dell’Accademia. But, we decided not to use maps. We were told that Venice is best seen through the twists and turns of the city, and it was the best travel advice we were given. Yes, we hit a few dead ends, but there are signs to all the major landmarks that eventually lead you to where you are going. But, it was not the destination that made getting lost worth it. It was the thousands of different types of bridges, the colorful houses, the flower boxes, the painted shutters, the gondolas and fishermen on the aquamarine water, and the bustle of people at every turn. While you are lost among the beauty of Venice, you feel at ease. We eventually found the museum, and while making our way back to the hotel were caught in an afternoon rainstorm. Under cover of a large patio umbrella, we ordered red wine and pizza while watching the rain and people scuttle by under a caravan of raincoats.
Fall in love with Venice by getting lost inside the city. You won’t be disappointed, because at every twist, turn, and dead end, you are sure to find something beautiful.