“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”
Venice is beautiful. And I don’t just mean in plain sight.
There was just something about the dark, lonely alleys cutting across Venice like a maze that caught my breath.
The first time I laid eyes upon the canal, the bridges – I was all “Wow”. A water city, indeed. No cars, no motorbikes. I don’t even remember seeing bicycles. I think it’s forbidden, if I’m not wrong.
Lovely Kris booked a lovely room for us on AirBnB and it was a quaint little place in the middle of…uhh…some alley? We met our host upon our arrival and she took us on an interesting path – turn left, turn right, cross a small bridge, turn left again…- man I can’t even remember now. I can see it in my mind, if you take me there again, I’m *almost* certain I’ll find it. But I cannot describe to you the directions right now. Oh, I’m terrible with directions alright. I get lost all the time, if you’ve been following me on my misadventures you’ll know that. 😀 But I always get to my destination, some way or another. Before I rattle on and on about just how lost we were in Venice, allow me to show you just how whimsical our accommodation was.
1240 – I have to say, it was an interesting door.
Enter and ye shall find…
More flight of stairs which led us to our pretty little flat? Apartment?
Very princess-y, what with the mosquito net covering and all that. Not that we needed the netting.
After we were done squealing at the quaintness of our room (and the whole place), we set off with high hopes that we would somehow find ourselves back by the end of the day.
Well, it seemed for Kris, those hopes we harboured came crashing down 5 minutes after we left our comfort zone. Because the minute we started venturing along those alleys, we were already lost. We didn’t exactly have a map, and no Wi-Fi so our smartphones were pretty much useless. The road signs weren’t helpful…AT ALL.
Apparently, Kris was having internal breakdown/panic attack because we were completely lost. I, on the other hand, had to hold my jaw up because I was in awe and very excited at the fact that we were wandering the streets of Venice! And I was oblivious to her suffering, how insensitive of me! But she got over it. I am almost certain she was having fun after that. We got the hang of it after awhile, maneuvering ourselves around. Don’t get me wrong, we were still mostly lost. Lol.
Ah, Venice. We can SMELL you. No joke, there IS some odd odour that is rather off-putting but we heard it’s worse in the summer. Good thing we went in the winter.
Ah, the Grand Canal. Wowed me, it did.
Although here’s a funny story. We somehow, somewhat found ourselves at the Ponte di Rialto. One of the four famous bridges spanning the Grand Canal, and it is the oldest – according to Wikipedia.
So here was what Kris and I were bantering about:
K: This IS the famous bridge right? The Rialto bridge?
Z: I think so?
…Wait, if this is the famous bridge, why is EVERYONE ON it and not snapping crazy photos OF it???
We found out why in a moment.
IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL, I CRY.
My heart skipped a beat and the view left me breathless. You would think I was having some sort of heart attack right there and then. It was simply amazing. For the 2 evenings we were in Venice, we were on that bridge appreciating the beauty of the sunset and of course, doing our usual nonsense that threw us into fits of giggles and probably drawing strange looks from other tourists. This is definitely one sunset view that I will never forget. I almost didn’t want to leave the bridge, if it wasn’t for Kris pulling me away and reminding me about how she had to do this the last time we were at Niagara Falls and I wanted to take root there as a plant.
Reluctantly, we left to discover other secrets Venice has in store for us.
While we managed to navigate ourselves to our intended destinations (the most important being the port where we took a water bus to the island of Burano, and second most important was getting back to our lodgings), we picked up a lesson or two (more, definitely) on the way. Wise words from Kris sprung somewhere along the lines of “All roads lead to home”. Or was it “Rome”. Hehehe, joke indeed, we were in Italy anyway! It was only appropriate. 😛
My take-home message was not being afraid of getting lost. Especially when you are in a foreign land whose people speak a foreign language. Sure, we have to take precautionary measures and be wary at all times, but opening your heart to possibilities would show you new roads, new discoveries. You discover more when you don’t overly focus on getting there, after all it’s about the journey and not the destination – I’m sure you’ve heard/read that a thousand times over. We never know for sure what we’ll find, it’s almost like a treasure hunt. Sometimes, it might just be as unexpected as a pretty little souvenir shop. I have to be honest, I didn’t have time to fully research on Venice before the adventure began so basically I had no idea what to expect. Which I thought was somewhat a brilliant way to start an experience. Well, it could also be the death of me but let’s not get too negative here.
Maybe I wasn’t afraid because I had Kris. Come on, if I was alone, trying to find my way back in the dark what with the maze of narrow, lonely pathways AND with my almost hopeless sense of direction, I might just be scared out of my wits. On another note, if I was thrown into that situation, desperate times call for desperate measures wouldn’t it? Perhaps my survival instincts would kick in and take control. A very interesting experiment for me to consider in this journey of self-discovery, which I am sure I will regale you with, once I’ve gathered my courage and go on a solo trip some time soon. #YOLO, they say.
Right, so where were we?
Ah yes, we mustn’t forget Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco and Campanile di San Marco. Venice’s tallest bell tower, the basilica and the square of St. Mark’s.
And then there is Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health), and Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs).
Much to my dismay, we didn’t have enough time to enter the basilicas. I would have love to take a peek at the interior – I have a thing for cathedrals, basilicas and the likes. And the serene feels I get whenever I enter these sacred places.
Can you hear the sighs?
They say Venice is one of Europe’s most romantic cities. The famous (and expensive) gondola ride that almost everyone would go for and rave about. Now they’ve got all the gondolas dolled up and looking very posh indeed but it is such a shame that the gondoliers don’t sing while you cruise along the Grand Canal (do they even sing to begin with or have I been deceived all this time, can someone please enlighten me). While I am not entirely sure how much it costs to get a ride in the gondolas, friends have mentioned different prices so I am guessing it depends on how many people are taking the ride with you and perhaps some negotiation took place? But I might be wrong. Either way, if you’re into the whole romantic notion, you might consider giving it a go. Personally, I thought it has become rather overrated and the price is ridiculous for a poor student like me. And if the gondolier isn’t even singing, heck! Kris felt that if she was going to pay that sum to go on the ride, she’d make the gondolier sing “Dayuuunngggg sampannnn ♪”. LOL. For those who are not familiar with this, it’s an Indonesian folk song that literally meant “row the boat”.
For some reasons, I cannot appreciate the whim of taking a gondola ride at night. Again, this might have to do with whether or not you think/feel that Venice is a romantic city. But from what I’ve seen, Venice gets really dark once the sun dips below the horizon. Sure, there are some warm lights here and there but I can barely see the canals, much less trying to gaze into my lover’s eyes while on the ride, lol. We took the water bus (Vaporetto) on our second night and I was trying to figure out our location if we were on foot, at the same time attempting to tell these buildings apart. Maybe it is just me. I guess I can say I prefer Venice during the day where I can see everything perfectly. Or maybe I need to return to Venice with a man who has clearly swept me off my feet and everything might just fall into place by then, hehe. Regardless of my thoughts about Venice during the day/night, I must say that I might have somewhat fallen in love with this city. 🙂 Dark & mysterious at night, surprises and spontaneity in the day. Sounds like the perfect man to me. 😛
Food-wise, there are lots of restaurants and eateries around so you won’t starve. While they weren’t the best, they were good enough for both of us, we’re not entirely picky. Our plan right from the beginning was to try the gelato in each and every city we were going to and OH THE COFFEE. Not to mention to eat all the pastas and pizzas there are until we get sick of them. And I did eat all the gelato (in the cold!) and drank way too many cups of coffee than I have EVER drunk in a month. Oh, and of course, Venice is famous for its carnival masks. You will definitely find masks in almost every souvenir shop you chance upon. Prices vary, so do the designs. Got this beauty for €13. 😀 There were many cats’ masks as well, I would’ve gotten it but this one is so prettyyyyyy!
This post isn’t going to help you much – in terms of real information – if you are looking to travel to Venice anytime soon. You are better off researching the facts and catering that to your needs and preferences. But what I intend to achieve by sharing my travels is the hope that this will inspire you to make that trip happen, for real. 😀 I can’t give you exact locations of all these places because half of it was pure accidental discoveries. The other half are famous landmarks that you would be able to pin on the maps beforehand, however because it is Venice I will wish you all the best in your attempts to find them. It’s not that hard, really. Once you get the hang of it. 😉 Here’s MY advice for you, for Venice:
Forget the map. Let your feet take you wherever the labyrinthine paths lead.
Cross those bridges, count the stairs.
Peer into every small canal that you WILL come across; but remember, while they look similar, they are not the same. Appreciate that.
Also appreciate what the daylight can do to Venice, and how the city changes once it gets dark.
Buy yourself a mask (only if you are interested, of course).
Drink good Italian coffee and devour gelato in every gelateria you chance upon!
And most importantly…just get lost. 🙂
You won’t regret it. You might even fall in love, like I did.
Unless you are a perfectionist, through and through and you need to have everything planned out in advance…perfectly. Or if you, for some reasons, cannot stand the idea not knowing where exactly you are. But I am sure it is an experience you won’t forget. 😛
Venice, I miss. How you have mystified me.
Next on the La Dolce Vita series: Isola di Burano.