Get Lost in Venice

On September 23, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

We spent 8 hours in Venice. We could’ve spent 8 days in this majestic city by the sea. When we first planned the Europe portion of our trip, Venice was on the back end – we would stop here while circling down from Budapest back to Rome. But a few weeks before we left the US, Cassie called an audible and announced we’d be detouring from Florence to see Venice, or else we risked getting jammed up somewhere and missing it altogether. And I’m eternally glad she did.

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VENICE AND THE PIAZZA SAN MARCO

Venice is everything you imagined and more (with the exception of the gondolas – more on that later). Why someone would build a city on this patchwork of islands where flooding is a constant risk is beyond me (see: New Orleans), but that hasn’t stopped Venice from flourishing, first as a center of trade and now as an historic tourist destination.

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Piazza di Diane Kruger

The Piazza San Marco is arguably the most impressive we’ve seen thus far, which is an accomplishment considering how many Piazzas are in Rome and Florence. Even a giant picture of Diane Kruger’s head on a watch advertisement couldn’t detract from the beauty of this World Heritage Site. As with any major city in Italy (and probably all of Europe), the focus here is the church – Basilica di San Marco. Every inch of the interior and exterior are covered in art, be it a statue, a painting, or a mosaic. And they are all incredible. I think we were the only people in the basilica who obeyed the signs that strictly prohibit taking pictures.

We took the waterbus one way in Venice and walked back. Through narrow alleys and crowded markets, over winding canals and picturesque bridges, we made our way through the city. Cassie led the way with our borrowed tour book, while I tagged along a few feet behind her, happy to not know where we were going and not care. I couldn’t help but snap photos every few steps. In Venice, it’s not about the destination – the journey is what counts.

THE GONDOLAS

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A gondolier

To answer your question, no. We didn’t take a gondola ride. They’re 80 euros and I can dog paddle faster. We were moving fast and thought that meandering around the canals of the city at a snail’s pace didn’t seem like a worthwhile investment of time or money We’re on a budget and the gondola ride, albeit a Venice memory, simply screams “tourist trap.” And for some reason, I always thought these dudes (and they’re all dudes) sang opera to you as they took you around. Apparently, they don’t. Even if my expectations were completely unrealistic, I was still somewhat disappointed.

Everywhere in Venice is expensive to eat. They cater to day trippers an,d as a budget traveler, you may start to think you’ll have to simply starve while visiting this city. But after getting lost on the other side of the canal (near Accademia), we crossed a bridge and found a tiny wine bar. It didn’t have a name. It’s not in any tourist book. But, it offered a glass of wine for 2.50 euro and a sandwich for 1.50 euro. We had discovered our “happy hour” spot. The best thing? You can watch gondolas float by without the crowds.

BACK TO REALITY

Alas, our time in Venice was too short – which we’ve so far said about every city we’ve visited – and we had to leave in the early afternoon. No complaints here though. When we got back to Livorno, we had an amazing dinner by the sea with family. Only this time it was the Tyrrhenian Sea. From one coast of Italy to the other, this country has been an amazing place to begin our round-the-world trip.

Want to dog paddle through the canals of Venice with us? Click here.

You can find our Venice photo gallery here.

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