|View of Venice from Palazzo Ducale|
It is vacation time and the first stop and only unfamiliar destination of this vacation adventure - Venice. It has been amazing, beautiful and tiring. Lol. Besides carrying around a massive sleep debt from the last work week and from paranoia that I would oversleep in my hotel at Gatwick and miss my 6.45am flight to Venice, I also decided to use the first day to 'explore' the city. By foot. It is one of those cities where you should walk - all the narrow 'calles' or streets or as you may call them when you see them 'alleys'. The city is a virtual labyrinth of narrow, sometimes poorly lit alleys. August is usually a dull time for a lot of cities when it comes to resident life. So while the main areas were teeming with tourists, the off beaten paths were virtually deserted.
This was how I came to be lost in Venezia. They say getting lost is a must and the guide books say don't worry if the snaking labyrinth swallows you whole. And so when I realised I was in No Man's Land after half hour, I chuckled to myself. Giving you the reminder as context - I absolutely suck at directions, maps etc. I would get lost in an empty room. I am daft like that. So lost and although armed with 2 maps, I knew this had the potential to be very gruesome. Add to that, I was off the beaten track so not an American or Japanese tourist group in sight. Two hours later, somehow I found my way back to the Rialto Bridge and among human life forms.
But it has been great - so far a much more palatable experience than Rome was, Rome being my benchmark for uncomfortable vacation destination. The people have all been very warm, very welcoming.
Venice is also pretty great for my waistline. One, Venetian cuisine is primarily seafood-based and I am not a huge patron of fish. Well okay...I hate fish. Saving my gluttonous ways for the rest of the trip. But what I have eaten so far has been amazing. The manager of the B&B where I am staying has been pointing me to places the locals would go. Venice gets a bad rap for sub-par cuisine mainly because a lot of places serve these ridiculous 'turistic' menus. It's like Chinese restaurants that serve what we love as Chinese food but the owner would not ever eat what they sell. Will leave the food for next time.
Secondly as it relates to my waistline - the obvious:- the walking. My room is on the top floor of the B&B - so lots of stairs. Though I have a travel card that gives me unlimited travel on vaporetti for the specified time period, one still walks a fair bit especially when lost, which is every day for me.
Venice is absolutely beautiful. You know what it is like from reading about it or seeing it in movies but you can never be fully prepared for the beauty of the city - a city floating on water. Beautiful by day, enchanting by night. Of course the second best thing to do after walking the narrow calles is to take a trip up the Grand Canal. The best way in which to do this is via vaporetto or water bus. Sure you can do the whole gondola thing but that would mean shelling out about 80euros for that pleasure. A single ticket for 60 mins on the vaporetto costs €7,50. In my case as I was there a few days I shelled out for a multi-day ticket and after getting lost on the first day, I relied heavily on the vaporetti for the rest of my trip. If you can use the London underground or the NY subway system, you will have no trouble with the vaporetti network which is only different as it runs on water.
Vaporetti are slow and during peak tourist sesson, hot. The crush of humans at any given time was enough to turn even the most enthusiastic tourist into a sourpuss. But it was never for long as the city views are amazing.
And you do not need to book a room oveelooking the canal to enjoy Venice. I did not and I still love it. Venice was planned as the true touristy part of the vacation so I did the main 'must do' sights but retired early from tourist life to slow it down and do nothing but enjoy the simpler things of the city - buying fruit in the Rialto market, sipping on aperol spritzes before dinner, night time stroll along the Rialto and onwards to St Mark's. It has been truly lovely.