Venezia, from the moment Cory and I laid eyes on you we were seriously in love. Your coastal breeze was a relief to our homesick hearts and your busy waterways were truly something out of the movies. No cars, just millions of people and yet we felt like we were the only ones experiencing it.
The morning we left Milan for Venice we woke up after what can only be described as our worst sleep of the trip. We went to bed around 9 and both woke up completely awake at midnight. We chatted and tossed and turned in our board bed until 3am. Our Milan apartment was also the only one we had without A/C and although every single one of our Airbnb hosts told us “Well here is the A/C unit but you won’t need it” because it was a cool 30 in Italy, I don’t think the heat helped our insomnia. When the alarm chirped at 6am for us to get up we laughed at the fact that we had been up for hours. We packed up, said goodbye to our Milan apartment with 40 locks and set off to the train station.
Upon arrival, Cory stood in astonishment at what is the European rail system. Seeing it for the first time through his eyes is still one of my favourite memories from our trip. Arrival is 10-15 minutes before your scheduled departure and you simply walk through security and get on board. It’s a dream compared to airline security. We however, arrived quite early. But it was wonderful to take our time, take a few photos, and try to grasp the Italian breakfast! Which yes, is something you need to grasp.
Breakfast is eaten standing at the Cafe bar. It consists of a Cappuccino or Espresso and some wonderful delicious cornetto (Italian sister to the croissant) or a pastry. Lined up sometimes 10 across the bar with the rest lined up behind them, there is serious pressure to get in, get out, and move along. I compared it to how I feel trying to get my change back in my wallet once I’ve been run through the till. You can sit in most establishments, but your prices will differ, and you will most likely be charged a service fee “Coperto” and maybe even a servizio if you’re really lucky. Standing is the key to savings in Italy but after 25,000 steps in 30 degree whether I am totally okay to pay €2-3 to sit. But please don’t tell Cory we may have spent $80 to sit in Italy. So we ate an Italian breakfast mixed with a Canadian one, orange juice and a cornetto and then boarded the train.
And then we arrived in Venice.
The Grand Canal hits you like a salty sea wave upon exiting the train station. And then you’re off, find your berth, find your water bus, figure out your tickets. We were completely lost. And standing in the vicious European heat asking “Well, what do you think?” “Well, what do you think?” Thankfully a British girl saw our wide eyes and helped me out in line to get our tickets. We figured it out and made our way to the water bus. Thankfully our Airbnb host Alessandro met us at our stop and walked us to our place. I am so grateful for Alessandro as he truly made our trip to Venice remarkable. He gave us tips on where to eat, what to do, and shared a lot of insider Venetian information.
After our insiders meeting, Alessandro left and we were on our own to navigate our way around. Venice is a labyrinth of alleys, canals, and small bridges. Good luck trying to use a map, or google maps. Several times we tried to pull up google maps on our phone and it told us we were standing in the middle of the canal. So we, like all the other tourists walk towards the direction of where we want to go and every 10 minutes check a map. Which is kind of silly to even have in the first place.
Out of sheer luck we somehow made it to San Marco Square and made our way into St. Mark’s Basilica. We then made our way into Doge’s Palace (pictured below) and toured the apartments. We had an amazing time here and the view from the apartments was one of our best of the trip (first photo below). We made our way to an Alessandro approved restaurant and it did not disappoint. Pasta and Pizza we're once again ordered and we finally nailed our ‘Bonjourno!’' We ended our evening with another Alessandro must do, a Spritz! We ordered one Aperol and one Campari Spritz as it is the classic Venetian aperitif. We then made our way back to our apartment, for the first time, in the dark. After about 20 minutes I almost (did) start to panic and asked (shouted) What if we can’t find our way back!!??? We ended up walking WAY past our destination but thankfully made it back to another board bed and flopped into it after a very long and wonderful day!
We spent day two even more touristy then the first. In the morning we made our way to the Rialto Bridge, dining and taking a lot of photos. We then did the one thing you have to do when you go to Venice, we went on a gondola ride. It was pretty magnificent to ride in the Grand Canal with so much traffic in such a tiny boat. After a very hot gondola ride it was time for a little gelato, so we headed to the famed SuSo. It was our favourite of the entire trip! That evening we headed to the Dorche area which was also recommended by Alessandro. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful and we had an incredible view of the Basilica and Doge’s Palace. We walked past where the gondolas are serviced, the Gallerie dell'Accademia, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and even came upon a pirate ship, Cory’s favourite moment for sure. We ended the evening watching the sun go down on Venice while we sat and relaxed with our feet dangling over the ocean and I wondered do I really have to leave tomorrow?
Venice truly blew our minds. And when asked what was our favourite part of our trip I always say all of it, but end with, but Venice was incredible!
Below is the famous Rialto Bridge and hotel. We dined here one afternoon along the Grand Canal and followed it up with a wonderful Gondola Ride.
Below is Doge’s Palace. It was the heart of political life and public administration of the Venetian Republic. In 1923 it was turned into a museum and a tour is an absolute must on any Venetian vacation. The palace is incredibly grand with a very impressive centre court (first photo below, can you spot me?) and the most incredible architecture.
The Palace housed the Doge’s (leaders) apartments, the seat of government, the city’s courtrooms (pictured below with the incredible gold ceiling) and also a jail. The encased bridge over the canal you see below is the Bridge of Sighs. The famous name of the bridge was in reference to the sighs of the prisoners who, passing from the courtroom to the cell in which they would serve their sentence, took a last look at freedom and Venice.
Below, look closely at the image of the Bridge over the canal. Do you notice the two matching square windows with a flower petal pattern. That is the Bridge of Sighs. Next to it is the view looking from the inside out. This is the exact view the prisoners sighed over.
Living the life in Venezia!