As neither Sarah or I had been to Venice before, we really didnt know what to expect, other than lots of boats. Gerty was parked up on the outskirts of the City, but in striking distance to the water ways via a pretty efficient, and cheap public transport system (€3 return) . Our campsite was a bit minty for what it was at €18, but horses for courses in the major cities.
Our first stop was a quick visit to the tourist information centre, where we purchased tickets for a river boat to take us down the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco. Our theory, see the City from the river and walk back. A bit of a sneaky tip we’ve picked up on our travels relates to sightseeing maps. These usually cost a few quid. However, the ‘hop on hop off’ tours that are advertised in the form of a flyer, usually include a map of the major sites and are readily available for free which means we have more money available for beer!
After buying our tickets for the boat and eventually getting on the right one, we were off down the Grand Canal. Myth number 1 dispelled. Venice doesn’t smell! Well, it didn’t while we were there. We were both gobsmacked at how incredibly interesting and beautiful Venice is. Floating along is a great way to watch the world go by and take in the sights, which there is a lot of! It’s an extremely busy waterway with taxis, gondolas and tourist boats, like ours, all jostelling for position. Chaotic in a serene kind of way.
After 40 minutes we were getting off the boat at ‘Piazza San Marco’ which is the most famous part of Venice. The walk to the square has the usual street vendors flogging their wares but its when you turn the corner and see ‘Saint Marks Basilica’ that your jaw begins to drop and the word ‘Wow’ can be heard from almost every mouth around. With a pure blue sky, the view ahead of us was just awesome.
A string quartet which was playing for one of the restaurants supplied the soundtrack as we walked through the busy square. We had decided to head in to Venice a bit later in the day, which was a good move as the crowds didn’t cause us any problems and it was easy to walk around. With our map in hand we started our own walking tour.
Being on the coast, a gentle breeze rolled in off of the sea which helped keep us cool. We didn’t know it at the outset, but it would be another 10 mile wander. The little alleyways that link the centre are literally maze like. One wrong turn and you’re at a dead end or facing one of the water ways with no option but to turn back or dive in. We eventually got used to how vague the map was and found most of the main sights listed, although getting lost in a place like this is half the fun.
Venice had quickly propelled itself as our favourite destination of the trip so far. Its just not like anything else we’ve ever experienced. The water, the architecture, the sights and sounds all make for an incredibly unique experience.
Later in the evening after quite a few wrong turns and plenty of food envy, we stumbled across a lovely little square where people were gathered drinking wine and beers from two small bars. We joined the queue and came away with two glasses of vino rosso and had change out of €5. Could this place get any better?!
Our whistle stop tour of Venice had unfortunately come to an end. We made our way back to the bus station and ate pizza whilst waiting for our ride home. Our feet were feeling the miles we’d walked but our brains were still in awe of this amazing place. The rest of Italy has a lot to live up to!! Xx