Venice was not high on “my” list of places to see when we planned our first ever trip to Italy.
In fact, it wasn’t on my list at all. I’ll let you in on a little something about myself. It’s been said, at times I may be guilty of prejudging before really giving things their fair chance. Not always, but in the case of travelling to Venice, it happens to be true. Let me explain myself.
During the planning stages of our first trip to Italy, there was a moment when my inner voice couldn’t be suppressed, unfortunately.
While planning our upcoming Italian adventure, the words “Let’s fly out of Venezia so that we can stay in Venice” rolled off of Tammy’s tongue. Without hesitation (or thinking) my normally controlled inner voice spat out “Wa..Wa… Whaaat?” This was followed up with a pathetic sounding whine “I don’t want to go to Venice.”
Now, you would think that I had a sound reason for having such a strong reaction to visiting Venice. On the contrary, I went straight to stereotypical complaints of Venice voiced by others and then adopted by myself. You know the ones, “It’s too crowded. It’s too expensive. The water smells dodgy.” To my credit I had the sense to suppress my harshest and dumbest comment, “Venice is for chicks.”
In all fairness to me, the thought of floating down a canal while being serenaded by a gondolier singing Bocelli made me squirm. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
It’s difficult for some people to face facts and except that they can’t always get what they want. Me on the other hand… I gave in quite quickly. There was no talking her out of Venice and after all, it was her trip too.
All that was left to do was suck it up, stop huffing and puffing and help her plan our stay there. In the end we stayed on the island of Lido (a 10 minute water taxi trip away). Sadly we spent slightly less than a day in and around this remarkable sinking city. Big mistake.
The trip to Venice by means of water taxi was surprisingly slow and incredibly hot.
There’s nothing like being tightly packed into the hull of hot boat with 50 or so soon to be grumpy travellers to start your visit. It took about 10 minutes to walk from the airport to catch the water taxi at the ferry terminal. The water taxi took almost an hour to come to an end. Speed limits for the water taxis, ferries and pleasure boats are set at a speed slightly faster than I can swim. FYI… I suck at swimming. Boats always slow down when passing each other to prevent excessive rocking of the vessels from the wakes being produced. I appreciate that they are trying to prevent mass puking by the passengers on board but, there are a lot of boats.
Next time we will take the train from the airport to the city station.
Let’s address my first whine about Venezia being too crowded to be enjoyable.
Is Venice too busy to be enjoyable? Perhaps for some. There is no doubt about it, Venezia draws in tourists like ants and wasps to a picnic. Peak season, which is most of the time, sees the heaviest foot traffic during the summer months. We went mid June before school was out for most students so it wasn’t as horrible as some say it can be.
If you can’t handle large crowds plan to visit the city in the early morning or evening. This way you’ll miss the flood of cruise ship tourists that spill into the streets, squares and attractions. Once the day trip crowds thin out you’ll begin to appreciate this city more.
Now, if luck is not on your side and you find yourself in the thick of the marching crowds, make sure to step out of the flow of humanity to enjoy the sights around you. Look past the people and enjoy the architecture and history of where you are. It is astonishing what the Venetians created for themselves. There will be times that you will feel overwhelmed by it all. Take that time to periodically remind yourself to “Just roll with it.” You’ll get to see what you want to see…eventually!
Next… “It’s too expensive.” Well yes it is, but then again it all depends where you decide to shop.
There will be plenty of shops that will be happy to liberate your cash from you if money isn’t an issue. Like any tourist destination you’ll visit in your travels, there will be shops offering reasonable prices for their treasures. Given that, you’ll just need to keep a sharp eye out for those sweet deals.
If it’s a memorable meal you want, you could choose to sit and eat at one of the posh ristorante in the heart of St. Mark’s square. You’ll undoubtedly enjoy a beautiful meal while listening to live orchestral music that fills the square. This decision may however give you heartburn when it comes time to pay the bill. There is a minimum charge to sit at these tables which may seem quite steep for the budget conscious. For many other travellers though, the experience of enjoying the moment in St. Mark’s piazza is what is important to them. The high price of having a glass of vino with their plate of pasta is a cost they are willing to pay. Given that this could be the one and only time you visit Venice, why leave with regrets.
Now me on the other hand I will gladly walk past these ristorante to search for one that can be found away from the main hot spots. I for one love the smaller shops and cafes off the beaten path.
The Dinner we enjoyed along the Grand Canal was memorable for its delicious tastes and its location. The smell of the water next to our table was never a factor in the experience. Now…this is a good point to segway into my last protest.
“The water in the Canal smells bad.”
Let’s just say that there may be times that this problem may happen but at the time we visited it was free of foul smells. As a matter of fact, none of our friends that have visited Venezia have complained about smelly water either. It’s more likely that the ripe odors you may smell are from the person next to you on the packed trains and ferries on the way there.
Looking back now, the hardest fact I have to face is that I was wrong about Venezia.
Our short stay could never have done Venice the justice it deserves. I wish we could have stayed longer to experience much more of what this city has to offer. The good thing is, we are certain we will return for a second visit to Venezia, with side trips to Burano and Murano just to make it fantastic!
The fun isn’t over yet folks! Click here on Venezia to see more photos of our trip.