Oh Venice you had us at hello.
We fell in immediate love with this city, and I mean immediate. We literally stepped out of the train station and stopped abruptly in complete awe as right there in front of us was the bustling Grande Canale with it’s overflowing water taxi’s and impressive bridges. I knew Venice was full of canals, that is of course why we went there, I just wasn’t ready for my reaction to seeing them all for the first time & my ensuing love & affection I would then develop for a city we had only just arrived in and I barely even knew.
We arrived at our hotel in record speed by foot – you would be surprised how fast you can hustle with a 15kg backpack when you just want to go out exploring a new city –
and immediately felt conflicted as we could have lazed around in the hotel
just as easily we loved it so much. Luckily the want & need to go canal exploring got the better of us and off we set, with a map tucked firmly in the back of Morgans pocket ONLY to be used when we wanted to find our way home.
And that boys & girls…is how we spent the next 3 days. I could share all the laughs we had – we sure had them, the restaurant finds we happily stumbled across – there were plenty of those, the cafe’s down teeny tiny ally ways you’d never imagine would even hold a cafe – but they did….but I won’t, because that’s just the thing you see. Venice is yours to discover, to explore, to get lost in and to develop your own love affair with.
I think the point of Venice is to get lost. To find your own way again, to make your own adventure. To find your own fun. To develop your own love affair with.
Morgs & I were easily clocking up over 20km’s of walking a day just aimlessly wandering around every canal and tiny ally that Venice had to offer. We found treasure coves of forgotten side streets, canals that were deserted, cafe’s that claimed to sell the best coffee – we think they did, and wine bars where we sat to sip delicious cold drinks & eat amazing tapas. We even made sure to be real Venice’i’ans (aka local people) by standing to drink all of our coffee...p.s once you sit in most cafes in Venice the price goes up! It was just truly ‘pinch me are we really here I never want to leave’ kinds of travel moments.
I even finally got my ‘omg we’re in Italy’ moment when we literally fell out on to St Mark’s square and immediately got surrounded by pigeons and heard all the live music playing from the huge square surrounding us. Ah-ma-zing. I had, for weeks said to Morgs that my ‘true Italian experience’ would be when I “found this square, I don’t know exactly which one it is, or where it is in Italy, but I’ll know it when I see it, and it definetley has a lot of pigeons and there will be music playing” how descriptive I know, of COURSE I was going to find it (not) but then…. Cue St Marks Square in Venice. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I knew that THIS was the square. The music was playing almost on cue, the pigeons were flying & I had my pinch me moment. I had found ‘my’ square.
If you DO have Venice on your hit list though and maybe would like some suggestions as to where to start when arriving in this labyrinth of a city who am I to not share our own fantastic experiences & give you some little hints to this remarkable place…so here they are, it’s short, but remember you will have your own Venice experience with your own adventures…..these are just some little hints to help get you on your way…
1. Grand Canale – the main canal in Venice and the bustling gateway to all of Venice’s other canals. Both sides are lined with more larger restaurants – packed full of tourists so Morgs & I stayed well away – we preferred to eat in the side streets with the locals – street vendors, and Gondola rides. You also catch the main water taxi’s here. P.s if you have a smaller budget and don’t want to pay the $80 euro for a 20-30 minute Gondola Ride, you can opt to jump on a water taxi which takes you all up the Grand Canale for about $18 euro (& it takes around 45 minute from point A to point A).
2. St Mark’s Square – the main square in Venice and if you’re anything like me and have always wanted to have pigeons feed out of your hands with live piano and jazz music in the background, well then this is your square. There are the big main restaurants in the square but you pay extreme prices even for a coffee. You can still get the experience of the bands & energy just by walking around yourself. A MUST see.
3. Tearoom Caffe Orientele – this little gem is quite the walk through ally ways you wouldn’t think have been walked in years. Just when you think you are surely lost you come out on to one of the most beautiful canals in Venice – in my opinion – and walk a little further and it’s hidden away next to a bridge. It’s number 1 on trip advisor which you also wouldn’t believe as when we got there we were the only ones in there. It’s far away from the throngs of tourists which was perfect, served us up some DELICIOUS vanilla tea & the yummiest home made apple crumble we’ve ever consumed. If you can be bothered with the adventure – visit the tearooms!
4. Venice Jazz Club – this place was Sexy with a capital S … I died when I walked in. D.i.e.d – doors open around 7pm – we got there for 8pm, band comes on at 9pm…It’s all jazz and is so sultry and amazing it is literally my ‘must must must do’ in Venice. The club is SO intimate. You sit at small round tables with your lover (or friend) lit only by candlight as a smooth jazz band plays away – you have tapas and red wine & you r night is set. You do pay a $20 euro entrance fee which gets you a table, your first drink, some nibblies on the table (chips & peanuts) & a cranking jazz bar all night..WELL worth it.
5. Ride in a Gondola – I really think you can’t go to Venice and not do this. I was squealing like a teenage girl at a Justin Beiber concert I was so excited. But heed our advice – Morgs & I had seen sooooo many couples as we wandered the canals and over bridges in their Gondolas watching the whole experience through the lens of their cameras – so our one rule for our own ride was to be fully present in the moment, cuddle, and take only 2 or 3 snaps .. which we did and the whole experience was that much richer & meaningful. So with your own Gondola ride, don’t get caught up in trying to snap the best pic or take the best video…just be in that magical moment. Tips? ALL Gondolas cost the same – it’s $80 euro for the Gondola so doing it with more people obviously lowers the cost as you can split it…we just wanted the two of us however. Also, don’t take a Gondola off the main canale. Go in to the side canals. We asked a few different ones out of interest and the Grand Canale Gondola rides were shorter and ONLY stayed on the Grand Canale (for the same price) .. getting in one down the side canals goes for longer (try 10mins longer) and you get to do all the side canals PLUS the grande canale..Much much better.
5. GET LOST…Like any of you need to be told this. I know everybody that goes to Venice goes for the same reasons and that is to explore the canals and get lost. I think the general rule in Venice is to only look at a map when you have to get home. It’s how we did it anyway and it worked amazingly for us. You see so much more, have so much more fun & find places, sights. people and food you would never have found constantly navigating your way around with a map.
I think we will absolutely return to Venice one day & I can’t wait.