Venice was a place to explore — to get lost and soak in its beauty and authenticity. Venice was my cherry-on-top paradise. When my mom and I first began planning our trip to Europe, Venice was not on my radar. And because it is so small in comparison to the other cities we were going to visit, we decided that two days would be enough to see what we wanted to see there. However, once we got to Venice, we realized that we could spend a lifetime just wandering the streets. They meander every which way and each intersection makes it a tough decision on which way to go, because every way makes you curious and every way looks interesting. So, you get lost. You get lost in the buildings, the water, the people, the markets, the food, the richness of the colors, everything. Venice was my favorite.
We took a quick plane from Paris to Venice, where I was sitting next to a hungover couple, one who was close to using the barf bags. I was praying that he wouldn’t actually throw up, because I have a weak stomach for things like that. Luckily, I had a window seat (on the downside, trapping me) so I could look outside at the water and islands below. When we landed at the airport, we took a public bus that drove us to the waterfront. Then, the water bus took us down the canal to our stop – Rialto Mercato. The area is a popular area for food and shopping. The vendors had boxes and boxes of fresh fruit that filled the air with the sweetest smells. My mom and I are both suckers for fresh fruit.
We checked into our hotel which was just steps away from the markets and the Rialto Bridge. Our room was much bigger than the one we had in Paris, and had a beautiful view looking down at the maze of pathways below. We decided to do some shopping, and we quickly got lost wandering the streets. Everyone told me to “get lost in Venice” — and really, you don’t have to try. You follow your curiosity and before you know it, you have no idea where you are but you don’t even care because it is so beautiful. Everything is aged, and the imperfections give the city such a rich character. Small bridges take you over the canals, where tourists in gondola boats move below.
We had lunch in a small restaurant which had the friendliest people serving us. A younger teenage boy was our server, who was quiet and polite, and stood at the door with a smile on his face the whole time. An older, dark Italian man was the owner and talked to us while we waited for our food (pizza, of course). He asked how we were related (mom and I), where we came from, what brought us to Venice, and asked about my schooling. He told us about the architecture in Venice and how some of it is built in the Armenian or Mongolian styles, and how the city is built on top of wood columns that hold up concrete. Things I never knew! And, I was so relieved to have such friendly people to talk to, especially after our bad experiences in Paris. From the minute we arrived in Venice, I knew Italy would be different from France. It gave me hope for the remainder of our trip.
We walked in the direction to San Marco, and after going through a path covered by archways, we arrived and to our left was the giant basilica at the far end of the square. The square was packed full of people along with children feeding pigeons who weren’t shy to hang out on your hand or shoulder. We went inside the church, which was very intricate with its golden mosaics, but a quick walk-through left something to be desired in comparison to Paris’ Notre Dame. But nothing that a little gelato couldn’t fix!
My mom and I did a ton of shopping in Venice and got gifts for everyone back home. The markets are sort of irresistable and the prices truly weren’t as bad as I had read about. We each bought a leather purse, which was so soft and smelled so good. Mine was definitely a splurge item for my trip, but that’s usually what I go for when I travel. I also made sure to buy some coffee and espresso for Connor, which was extremely hard to find until we saw a small grocery store.
The first day we were in Venice, the weather was pretty good. It was warm along the coastline, but cooler in the shaded back streets and sometimes a bit windy. The second day, however, was gorgeous. It was really warm and sunny, so we decided to take a little trip to the nearby island of Murano, the one which is famous for glass-blowing, even though you can find glass goods all over the other islands. Murano was much more relaxing and less crowded, but because it was a Sunday, many of the factories were closed. So we sat at a cafe for lunch along the canal and I got to do some sketching while I ate some really delicious spaghetti. In Venice, we learned to slow down. There were less big attractions than Paris, allowing us more time to spend freely how we wished and wander. We also learned to eat slower and rest our feet and backs when we had the chance.
The heat of the day wore us out, so we went back to our hotel and took a nap. When we woke, the weather had completely changed. It was no longer sunny and bright, instead the sky was stormy and gray, and it was raining really hard. I started to worry about the floods, but I wasn’t going to let it ruin the rest of our night. So we put on some rain gear and went out for dinner under a covered patio and watched the people as they ran through the streets or hid from the weather. We took the water bus back to San Marco, because I heard it was very pretty at night. Some parts were, but others were dark and unimpressive. So we had more gelato and cake and celebrated Mother’s Day while sitting in the square listening to live music. Since the rain had lessened, we decided to walk back to the hotel, but just as we started, it began raining harder. We really didn’t care at this point, though, so we let ourselves get soaking wet and lost again. We finally found a water bus stop, fairly close to our end destination, but we jumped on anyway to get back to the hotel faster.
Our time in Venice was long enough to see what we wanted and get a good taste for the city’s culture, but I also feel like we could have spent way more time there and be totally content. But at the same time, we were looking forward to the last two places we would be traveling.