My one day exploration in Venice taught me…
1. That it is important to pack light.
The Venice bridges are picturesque, especially with the colourful and old-world appeal of the houses and Gothic and Renaissance structures in the background. However, if you have to cross these structures (especially the steep ones) to get to and from your hotel while carrying your heavy luggages, your Venice stay might become unforgettable in an abominable way.
2. That there are hundreds of pigeons in Piazza San Marco and they seem to be fatter than the ones I have seen elsewhere.
3. That if you want a souvenir photograph of you holding a pigeon at Piazza San Marco, it is best to bring a piece of bread to feed them. Otherwise, they are most likely to shy away from you. This leads me to concluding why the pigeons are fat. 😀
4. That it is inevitable to avoid capturing fellow tourists in your photograph when you’re taking them around Piazza San Marco.
5. That it could get colder in Venice than in Florence and Rome.
6. That Saint Mark’s Campanile, the famous bell tower at the Piazza San Marco, has once collapsed in 1902 and was reconstructed to its present form in 1912. There were ongoing structural repairs when we visited the landmark to halt its subsidence.
7. That you cannot always assume that your hotel is at the same building/compound as its reception area. Sometimes it could be blocks away.
8. That souvenir refrigerator magnets could be cheaper in Venice than in Florence, Rome, Paris or Amsterdam. Refrigerator magnets at the Rialto Market can be as low as 0.85 euros while the same material could cost 3 euros or more in the cities I have mentioned.
9. That a gondola ride allows you to see what you cannot normally see when walking or when riding a water taxi or a water bus (vaporetto). Inasmuch as it is recommended for romantic sightseeing, it is a great means of seeing the structures along the tiny canals that are inaccessible to other crafts.
10. That it is pretty amazing how the gondoliers keep balance and control the movements of the gondola while standing with one hand on the oar and the other hand on their mobile phones.
11. That gondolas are flat-bottomed boats and that the gondoliers must stand up to see the shifting sand bars while navigating. That a licensed gondolier could successfully steer through narrow stretches, under low bridges and arches, among a number of other gondolas while serving as a canal tour guide.
12. That there can also be traffic jams at the canals.
13. That churches are very abundant in Venice.
San Giovanni Evangelista Church (founded in 970)
The second and third photographs were taken from Basilica di San Marco
San Giacomo di Rialto
14. That if your departure time from Venice for Florence is 6:25am and you can find only one train with the same route at the station, it is not automatically the train ride that you’ve prepaid for.
15. That if you wanted to ride a speed train but it is not available, you could always use the slower train. It could be a blessing in disguise. It offers good views from the train along the way.
16. That if you arrive later than the departure time of your connecting train, it is okay. You can always have the ticket revalidated at the Trenitalia office.
17. That it is okay to figure things out by yourself when time is on your side. Otherwise, ask for help.
18. That queues for building entrances are not always long and their lengths depend on the time of visit. We queued up to view the panoramic views at the top of Saint Mark’s Campanile around 4PM and were able to climb up in a span of 10-15 minutes. After an hour, the queue length almost tripled!
19. That no matter how lost you think you are along the back streets of Venice, you will always find a way to reach the Rialto or the Piazza San Marco. Just follow the arrow signs that appear intermittently in the alleys.
20. That learning the most common Italian words, especially those that pertain to directions such as ‘adestra’ and ‘sinistra’ really helps. It helped us get through the Venetian ‘human maze’.
21. That the most common greetings used by Italians are “prego”, “buon giorno” and “buona sera”. I never heard them say “buon pomeriggio” (good afternoon) in the hours after lunch.
22. That there are street vendors of Prada, Gucci, Coach and Louis Vuitton imitations in Venice.
23. That Venice can be inexpensive if you choose to.
Venice is known as an expensive city as:
- A water taxi (the Venetian version of the limousine), which is the most romantic and glamorous way to arrive from the Marco Polo airport to your hotel in Venice, could cost 100 euros and up. Riding a public ferry from the airport could cost 15 euros (one way), which is the same cost for an ‘Economy’ inter-city train travel.
- Hotels could charge large rates.
- Usage of a public toilet could cost between 1 to 2 euros.
- Eating in restaurants near Venice’s iconic landmarks could rip off your budget.
- One small bottle of mineral water could cost 1.5 euros.
- Riding a gondola could cost 80-100 euros for a boat ride of 30-40 minutes.
- The vaporetto is the major means of transportation within Venice. One single ride ticket good for 1 hour from validation costs 6 euros, a multiple ride ticket for 12 hours costs13 euros, for 24 hours costs 15 euros, and so on.
However, we chose to do Venice in an inexpensive way:
- We rode the local urban bus service, the ACTV number 5, which links the Marco Polo airport with Piazzale Roma, costing €2.50. It stops en route, but is still reasonably quick, and enabled us to see the greens and the life of the Italians beyond the canals.
- We chose to stay in a budget hotel near the Piazzale Roma to avoid extra transportation costs from Piazzale Roma to the hotel and from the hotel to the Santa Croce train station.
- We chose to eat at a pizza station for lunch (Punto Pizza) while exploring the Venetian alleys where a very big pizza slice costs 3 euros. Then we had dinner at Brek, which was recommended by our hotel host. Aside from the food being cheaper than the other restaurants, Brek offers free wifi.
- We chose to buy the bigger bottle of mineral water near the Santa Croce Station, which costs only 2 euros.
- We chose to share the gondola ride with fellow tourists to divide the cost. We ended up meeting a beautiful and generous couple from Korea with whom we exchanged turns in taking photographs. The Koreans gave us instant photographs taken from their polaroid cameras.
- We chose to explore Venice by foot. After all, we got the chance to see Venice by water through the gondola ride. As bonuses, we got to discover a lot of graffiti street arts, our “pizza to remember”, Venetian back street architecture and unexpected street ‘actions’.
Gondola terminal near Hard Rock Cafe and Hotel Cavalleto
At the Rialto Bridge
The “pizza to remember” from Punto Pizza
24. That “jet lag” was a meaningless phrase when we were in Venice. 🙂
“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”
Most of my (and my husband’s) snapshots of Venice are in this blog:
Photos by Gilbert and Anna 🙂