On my trip to Europe at the end of 2010, arriving in Venice was just as magical as what people say about it. I don't think anything can prepare you for this amazing city in Italy. There I was, walking alongside the main canal in Venice looking for hotel rooms. We had arrived on a busy Saturday afternoon and most of the hotels were fully booked as Italians go to Venice for weekends with their friends and family and of course there were thousands of tourists just like us. As we expected the hotels were very expensive but luckily we found the Biasin Hotel right on one of the many canals. The owner, a feisty 85 year old, was a very clever business woman but a little bit eccentric. Her hotel was fully booked as well but she offered a partitioned off section of the attic, which we shared with several backpackers. We didn't mind as she had promised us a room across the canal in her other hotel, with actual views over the canal. because we were staying four nights, she gave us quite a good deal, too. In the hotel, most staff were students from around who had come to Venice for study were working here part time. The young receptionist who looked after us was actually from India.
I have to admit that Venice is gorgeous; no traffic, nice shops, great food and ice cream!!!! The Italians make the best ice cream in the world, I reckon. Another thing I have to admit is that, even though it was almost winter, I ate at least one ice cream each day we were in Italy.
Over the four days in Venice, we walked around town and it was like a difficult game of chess with the walkways, bridges and canals making it hard to get back to the hotel - or anywhere else for that matter. But I absolutely loved it. We took so many photos and checked out lots of beautiful shops for Venetian specialties like carnivale masks, they are brilliant!!! I kind of regret that I didn't buy one even though I know it's just another dust-collector. Next time!
We decided to visit Murano Island, famous for its glass, which is about 20 minutes by ferry and it was truly worth the effort. The beautiful scenery from the ferry - seeing Venice from a distance - was another time to say "Am I really here in Venice?". I bought some champagne stoppers and other small souvenirs for my friends and they were pretty cheap and very special. We wandered around this small village for an hour before visiting the other islands of Burano - famous for it's incredible coloured houses and Torcello, a more peaceful and spiritual experience.
Back in Venice, we visited the incredible San Marco Square and cathedral. My friends took a trip to the top of the building while I walked around the square and nearby promenade taking photos of the pigeons and gondolas. There were also people dressed in opera costumes trying to sell tickets - it was a pretty special atmosphere, even though it was cold and raining. On the way back to the hotel, we walked over the Rialto bridge and watched the boat traffic as the skies got dark. We used the city's great vaporetto system to get around as well as walking. Seeing Venice from the water is important, I think.
Four nights in Venice was not enough for me as there is still so many things to see and discover but that means I have a reason to come back.
I still have to pinch myself to believe I've been there.