Stepping out of the train station and immediately getting a view of the Grand Canal was breathtaking. We had already visited Florence and Rome, but Venice was our favorite as soon as we got off the train. The atmosphere was like a beach town, without a beach. You could automatically tell the vibe of the city was completely different. While the city was not totally clean or well structured, the wearing away of paints and old buildings were so charming.
(View right outside the train station)
As soon as we reached Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia the first beautiful thing we saw was the train station itself. Recently remodeled, it was clean, open and appealing to the eye. The next beautiful scene was the Grand Canal. Flowing in front of the train station, you get a wonderful view of the city. We turned left out of the station and continued down the tourist filled street along the canal. As a prime vacation destination, this area was tourist central. However, it was not overwhelming or crowded. Everyone was calm and just enjoying themselves.
After walking about 7 minutes we arrived at Campo S. Geremia, the square where our hotel was located. We spent one night at Hotel St. Geremia. This charming hotel was situated on the corner of the square with a view of 2 small cafes and the church of San Geremia. Since we booked a private room, we had a balcony over looking the square. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone on a budget. It was pretty nice and very charming.
Once we checked in and dropped off our backpacks, we set out to explore. Wandering around the narrow streets, over canals was enchanting. The streets were filled with small restaurants, cafes and shops. The locals were all extremely nice and inviting. This was different from cities like Rome. While roaming around we got lost and loved every minute of it. We walked and walked until we got hungry. Then we decided to head back. As we walked, we continued on until we found the large parking garage where all the locals parked their cars. We just followed the Grand Canal back towards our hotel after that.
We ate dinner at the small café across from our hotel. I forgot the name, but I had four cheese gnocchi and Bernhard had seafood pasta. His was better than mine. They were both still good though! The food was reasonably priced, but we were so hungry we forgot to look for the service fee on the menu. They charged a whopping 12%. Paying that was a doozy.
After we ate, we found a Laundromat because we needed to do some laundry. The Laundromat was kind of expensive, but we had no choice. Our clothes did not dry in the allotted time so we brought them back to the hotel and hung them out on the balcony. In the morning, the manager of the hotel came and sort of yelled at us because it is illegal to hang your laundry off a balcony in a campo, or square, in Venice. Who knew?
The next day we had a small breakfast and set out on the hunt for good gelato. A gelato placed named Alaska had great ratings on Trip Advisor and came highly recommended by many travel blogs so we decided to check it out. It was not too tricky to find, I think we searched for about 30 minutes. This gelato was worth every second we spent looking for it. It was the best Gelato we had on the entire trip. The shop is owned and operated by a very nice man. I highly recommend the coffee flavor and banana. The flavors were so rich. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
After our morning gelato we set off to get lost again. Since it was our last day in Venice we wanted to make sure we saw of the sites. With less than 48 hours in Venice we did not make it out to the island of Burano. However, we saw everything else in the city including the Doges Palace and Bridge of Sighs. The sites were not as stunning as Westminster Abbey or the Coliseum, but they were unique and lovely in their own way.
We wandered around until lunchtime and found this very nice restaurant near a canal. If you are looking to try some local cuisine, I highly recommend the cuttlefish. I tried it and was completely blown away. The black sauce it is cooked in looks a little weird, but it was amazing. It is so hard to describe the taste, but it really is a must try. I also had a Bellini, since they originated in Venice. It tasted just like it looked, pink and delicious. The fruity, sparkling drink was great for lunchtime. I sampled an Aeperol spritz as well. This is an orange aperitif prepared with Prosecco and Aeperol. This was a little bitter, but still good. As you walk around Italy, but especially Venice, you will see so many people enjoying this cocktail. Bernhard ordered Sea bass and we were surprised when the whole fish came out on his plate. Even though we were a little skeptical, he tried it and loved it.
After lunch it was time for our walking tour and Gondola ride. We opted for this option because a gondola ride is 80 euros for only 30 minutes. With the tour we got a small discount, but we had to share the gondola with 4 other people. If we could do it again, we would just pay the 8o euros and have the gondola all to ourselves. We booked the tour on Viator and the local contact was Bucintoro Viaggi. I would not recommend this tour. The walking portion was pretty boring and you did not really see the interesting landmarks of the city. The best part of the tour was the gondola ride. It was just like the movie, romantic and beautiful. Even though we had to share the gondola, I felt like I was alone with my boyfriend and we had a wonderful experience. The gondolier took us down some smaller canals, then onto the Grand Canal. We saw the Rialto Bridge from the water (it was under construction but still pretty). We turned off the Grand Canal and saw some beautiful window displays from high-end stores before our ride was over.
After our gondola ride, we went to Alaska to get one last taste of gelato then picked up our bags from the hotel. Off to the train station we went. Our next adventure was an overnight train to Vienna. Venice was my favorite city we visited in Italy. The relaxing vibe of the city instantly made me feel calm. Wandering around is the best way to see the city and really experience it. Make sure you get a map though because it is hard to find your way back! It is easy to get caught up in the romance of the city. I am so lucky to have been able to visit this wonderful city with the man I love.
Venice Must Dos:
Wander around and get lost
Get gelato from Alaska
Try the Cuttlefish
Drink a Bellini