This past weekend was my birthday, and I was spoilt rotten by being flown off to Venice for 3 days. One of the great things about Europe is how tiny it is. It took us about and hour and a half to fly from Barcelona to Italy, and these distances, coupled with cheap flight deals, really make exploring the continent a very real possibility.
Venice is a photographers paradise, every corner you turn around offers you another glistening vista of water and centuries old architecture rising up from the lagoon. It really is like it seems in the movies and Milos and I were able to sort of pretend we were Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, with less violence and more tourism, from The Tourist. We didn’t stay at the Danieli, but our hotel room was on the top floor and we had a whole private terrace to ourselves with views of the canals.
The little islands of Venice are car and bicycle free, and although they would be a nightmare for anyone wheelchair bound, the lack of wheels makes the whole city pulse to a different beat. To explore, you can clamber over bridges and down the maze of alleys. Or ride on the waterbus, take a water taxi or pole down the green canals on a fancy black gondola with a boatman in stripes singing as the city passes on either side.
Compared to Barcelona, Venice is not cheap. All restaurants charge a service fee and a cover charge, which could be a nasty surprise when on a budget. The water bus costs about 6 euros a ride per person, so it really makes sense to get a 36 hour pass, and take advantage of it. I loved how everything was so swish, from the shiny wooden water taxis, to the fact that the vaporetto attendant was wearing Valentino. Ladies wander around in fur and wear sunglasses while drinking their aperitivos in the setting sun. I liked that almost all the words had double letters in them. I saw tutti gattini and Milos and I enjoyed eating roasted Maroni (chestnuts) while wandering the streets.
I also found Venice very dark. The sun set at 4.30pm and the city is not well lit. When the lights of the myriad shops switch off at 9pm and the mists rise it gets a bit creepy. Of course Venice in summer would be very different, but I appreciated that we never noticed the famed “smells” of the lagoon or were inundated with tourists.
Venice was very clean, and often the green water was so clear you could see little schools of fish swimming about. Venetian food is clearly seafood based and you can sample eel, lobster, crab and octopus. We stuffed our faces with pastas and pizza with seafood toppings. We found it quite hard to find restaurants, fodors and tripadvisor were a bit tricky to narrow down, and at 20 euros a head for almost every meal, we often opted for the atmosphere of a restaurant rather than its online recommendations.
We ate at the oldest restaurant in Venice which was cute, filled with memorabilia from the 16th century, and were happy with the fare and the experience. If we ever go back, we will try Gam gams, which we walked past. It lies in the old Jewish quarter, where we were staying and packs out at lunch time, always a sure sign of a good meal.
On the last day of our trip we toured the islands of Murano, Burano and Tochello. I shall be writing another post about the glass workers of the islands, as their creations deserve their own post. Needless to say we had a ball, despite cold temperatures. I would recommend a trip to Venice, put it on your bucket list. It should definitely be a place to visit before it sinks beneath the waves and becomes the next Atlantis.