Sunday, April 21, 2013

Venezia! (aka Venice) A City for Wandering

From Rome we traveled north to Sacile to stay with some family of friends from home. From there we planned to spend three nights in Venice before heading into Austria. That was until we saw how much hotels cost in Venice. Based on what I read, the only way to do Venice was to stay on the island; otherwise you’d have to worry about getting on and off each day and the time and money this would take. This turned out to be very true. The only problem with staying on the island is that most places are expensive. If they aren’t expensive, they tend to have pretty bad reviews and sound sketchy. We aren’t too picky and tend to figure that we won’t be in our room too much so there’s no point in spending too much on a place to stay. However, something about Venice made us feel differently and we decided to splurge on a nicer hotel, The Pasaro Palace. Instead of three nights, however, we cut it back to two and stayed with our friends in Sacile an additional night.
Us with our friends in Venice
Late Saturday morning our friends drove us the 45 minutes to Venice where we all boarded the “people mover” (costs one Euro per person one way) to take us to the island. We arrived and we were overwhelmed! It was surreal to be there. I’ve seen Venice on television and in movies, I’ve seen the Venetian in Las Vegas, and all of these things display a relatively accurate picture of this alluring and beautiful city, so the reality of walking through the streets of Venice took a little while to comprehend.

One of our first views of the city
There’s just something about Venice. It’s a maze of pedestrian streets and canals, but not an overwhelming maze. There aren’t any cars, which is phenomenal! However, there are a lot of people (especially on the weekend – we noticed a definite difference in the crowds on Monday as compared to Saturday and Sunday). There’s no lack of restaurants, pastry shops, mask stores (Venice has a huge Carnavale celebration every February), Murano glass shops, cafes or bars.

A giant meringue we bought
It’s fun to wander the streets, going wherever your whim compels you. Sooner than later, you’ll come to a dead end…at water. It’s amazing. It’s a sort of grid of street/canal/street/canal and it makes up a place like nowhere I’ve ever been. It’s inarguably romantic, but I can’t exactly explain why.

We saw the famous sights; San Marco Square, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs. We also did the gondola ride through the canals. They are not cheap – 80 euro for about 40 minutes – but we paid less for a little less time and it was sufficient. We rode through the quiet, off the main track canals, which is what I would recommend. You want to actually be moving through the water and seeing the city rather than just getting stuck in a waterway traffic jam on the Grand Canal.
Rialto Bridge in the background
As we tend to do because we enjoy it so much, we spent a lot of time just wandering, walking, window shopping and exploring. We had two half days and one full day and we both would have easily taken a few more (especially at our hotel!) We definitely plan to return in the future…

Us on our gondola ride
For more Venice pics, click here.

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