Travel | Venice...

Friday 23 October 2015

Happy Friday everyone! How on EARTH are you? It's been pretty quiet around here lately, I've had quite a bit on my plate, and just generally not felt like the best version of myself, but I will save that for Monday, because today I want to FINALLY get around to sharing some photos from Venice with you!

I say finally, it has only really been a fortnight, but my lord it feels like months ago, and besides I can't put it off too much longer because the young man and I are heading to Berlin at the end of next month, and I'm already looking forward to that, and dont want Venice to be forgotten about. Not that I think I could ever really forget about Venice. I completely and utterly fell head over heels with the place. Me and my mum, both agreed, it has quickly become one of our favourites.

Everything about Venice feels a little fictional. Like you have stepped on to a film set or into the book you fell asleep reading on the plane. The beautiful buildings that step straight on to the water, and the feeling that it could all sink and float away at the same time, gave me this gorgeous surreal feeling the minute I stepped out of the station.  That giddy 'Am I really here?' feeling.

We were staying out in Mestre rather than on the main island, which I would highly recommend as it saved us a small fortune on our hotel bill and the trains to Venice run every 10 minutes ish, are only 2,50 euros for a return, and take about 15 minutes to get in. Alternatively there is a bus that is just as frequent and runs through the night, the price of which is included in with your 48 hour water bus pass - which was 30 euros, and basically essential.  Not only was staying off the main island convenient and cheap it also meant we were hit with that wow factor every day.

We arrived on the Friday, mid afternoon, and not wanting to waste a minute, grabbed an espresso (ok, a latte - and we sat at a table not at the bar like the locals do), freshened up and headed into Venice in search of Risotto for my cousin, Ravioli for my aunt and Gelato Gelato Gelato for everyone. Our grand idea had been to saunter over to San Marco square, which we told was only half an hour away (FYI nothing is only half an hour away in Venice), find somewhere to eat, then head back fairly early. That didn't happen, instead what happened was that we got royally lost. We didn't make it to San Marco but we did find Ravioli/Risotto/Gelato and eventually found our way back to the train station.

Despite the panic of 'what if we miss the train?' and trying to negotiate a map and six other family members, I didn't mind being lost all that much. When you read all the travel guides they tell you the best thing to do is to get lost, it's the only way you can really appreciate that ALL of Venice is stunning. That first night I must have stopped after every twist and turn (and there are a lot of twists and turns) to take a photo, and I didn't tire of this the entire time I was there.

We spent Saturday getting a bit more to grips with the canal ways and the twists and the turns, and ticking off our tourist bucket list. We got up early, like really early for a holiday, to get into Venice for a 9am walking tour. I'm normally not one for guided tours, but I'm really glad we did this. If only for the tour guides face when my aunt asked 'Do they colour the water?' As amazing as it is to get lost in Venice, it's a place so steeped in history, that to really feel like you're anchored to the place, you need to understand how it came to be.

The tour finished in San Marco square and while our tour guide, and every book I had read, advised against it, we paid to sit out in the square, drinking coffee, and listening to the classical music. It was about 12 euros for a hot drink, plus a 6 euro extra charge if you sit while the music is playing (per person), if I'd been alone I'd have got take out and stood in the square covered in pigeons, but the trip was for my Aunt's birthday, and sat in the square she looked pleased as punch. Worth every penny.

Next on the list of super touristy, and exceptionally expensive things to do, a Gondola ride. At 80 euros for a 30 minute trip, it isn't something you can do on a budget trip. But a Gondola does seat 6, so if you split it over a group it's not so bad, and it is a stunning way to see Venice.

That night we ate an amazing meal just 10 minutes away from the train station, where a poor lovely German man who had been enjoying a quiet meal to himself, ended up with 7 Yorkshire women joining him for dinner! He can't have minded too much though, as we bumped into him again on the water bus the next morning, and he didn't immediately throw himself over board.

Sunday was a much more chilled out affair. There were 7 of us on holiday together, and I have to confess at times I found it a bit overwhelming. The last time I was on holiday, it was just me! But I wasn't the only one feeling it, and we all had different things we wanted to see so we split up for the morning, and I took the water boat all the way down the Grand Canal. There are a lot of top tips that people share for Venice, but mine would be this. When you're on the water boat, walk right to the back of the boat and sit outside, or if your lucky and on a smaller boat, sit right at the front. Don't go inside, and don't stand in the middle with everyone else, because there is no view quite like it. Day time, night time, even when it is raining. Sit outside.

I headed back up to San Marco, and then walked along the sea front, watching the artists paint the views, and taking them in for myself. And then the sun came out in the afternoon, and me and my cousin sat in the square at Academia, eating Foccacia, macarons, and butter cream cakes from a local bakery (much cheaper and tastire, than sitting in the restaurants on the square and having to pay for your chair as well as your meal!).

For our last afternoon I wanted to explore more than just the thousands of Murano glass/gift shops. So for Santa Maria, della Saulte, and stumbled upon pop up art exhibitions, and artisan independent designers along the way. Maybe it was just the weather, but personally I much preffered the view from Saulte than San Marco. I was joined by my mum and my cousin and we sat looking out at the grand canal and soaking up the sun (see the top pictures) and for me, that was the best part of the trip. That's what I will think of when I think of Venice, watching the ocean enter the island, and sweep water bus after gondola along with it.

This is just a very small selection of the photos I took on my trip, and are mainly from my second day, because the weather was as beautiful as the place, and therefore I didn't need to edit them as much! I'd love to go back to Venice, for a slightly longer trip, and spend a little more time taking a tour of the Doge's palace, and browsing through the Guggenheim collection. But mainly, to get back on that water bus, and just take it all in. Oh and for the Macarons too.

Have you ever been to Venice? Do you have a favourite European city?

Live life & adventure x

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