When people say Venice is like nothing you’ve ever seen before they are absolutely correct. Venice is literally all on water. The water was dirtier than I expected but it kind of makes sense. If I could only see how polluted the air is from all the automobiles it would probably look the same as the water.
I traveled with one other girl on my program, Morgan. We stayed on the island of Lido. I’m glad we stayed outside of Venice because we got a taste of what real life is like up north. It is kind of cool to say I stayed on an island, too. When I was little (5-6 years old) I thought all islands were deserted. I have cousins that live on an island near New Zealand and I was always confused how you could raise a family and live on an island. Clearly you can. There are pharmacies. There are grocery stores. There are clothing stores. There are normal streets that cars drive down.
You don’t have a Michigan Avenue but there’s everything you need to survive. It was very quaint. I could definitely see how you could raise a family here.
Yes, Venice is all on waters and you’re only on a sidewalk a short time before crossing another bridge, but where we stayed was a normal town. There were bridges every so often however it reminded me a lot of southern California near my grandpa’s house in Palm Springs. Our bed and breakfast was right on the water. The only thing separating us was a street and bike path that stretched the whole island. Think of the path on lakeshore drive with less people and that is what it looked like. People actually worked out there! Until now I was under the impression no one in Italy exercised. In Rome, heads turn when I go on runs. People were bike riding and running in Lido!
So here’s a little itinerary of my trip. I was there for two full days, which was plenty of time for me.
Day 1: Woke up at 4 for a 7 AM flight. It took 1.5 hours once at Marco Polo airport to get to our place. We took a boat down the Grand Canal to Lido. Traveling took a while because of the no wake zone, and because the stops were close to each other. It was a good introduction to the city. There weren’t stoplights. No cross walks. Just boats!
After settling into our place we grabbed lunch in St. Marcs and watched the royal wedding. It was by chance that the place we chose had a TV. We saw the mass part in Westminster Abbey. Kate looked absolutely stunning. And her sister looked like a million bucks. I loved the camera shots of Harry while Kate was walking down the aisle and William couldn’t turn around. People were popping champagne in the café and eating pastries while watching the wedding.
Afterwards, we walked around and shopped. Before dinner we took a gondola ride. The driver let me row with him! We saw a lot of old buildings on our 30-minute ride. The city hall, post office, and old prison are all 600+ years old. Our gondola driver’s family has lived in Venice for 400 years! It’s amazing how far back he could trace it. You could tell he was proud to tell us. I’m glad I can finally say I went on a gondola ride. I wish it was longer but I definitely got the jist of it.
Day 2: We headed to the island of Murano, home to glass making. The shops had beautiful items. From chandeliers, to jewelry, frames, cups & dishes we saw it all. We wanted to see a glass blowing demonstration but they weren’t doing them that day. We saw their stations though. There wasn’t much to do there besides shop. All the jewelry looked the same after a while. I got some watches and a Pandora necklace.
After poking around Murano we took a boat down the Grand Canal for a little tour. We ended up walking back though. We didn’t know you could walk. We thought you could only take the boat. It wasn’t a direct route back. We crossed dozens of bridges and went down many side streets. Fortunately there were signs guiding us in the right direction. I really enjoyed this walk. We stopped for cappuccinos and absorbed everything around us. The streets were soooooooo narrow! Literally less than an arms length!!
For dinner we went to Trattoria alla Madonna. Read my food blog for the experience: click
On our boat home after dinner I got lost in deep thoughts while looking at the water. The lifestyle in Venice seemed incredibly relaxing. So stress free. Surrounding us were boats and water. There was no real hurry. I then realized I would get annoyed constantly relying on public transportation like the one I was on to get me places. I’d be stuck on their schedule. I also noticed how there weren’t many boats out. There must be some kind of regulation or special permit allowing private boats to ride on the canal. I also noticed the overwhelming amount of Italian flags that hung from buildings. I thought the north didn’t want to combine with the south during the whole unification ordeal yet there seemed to be so much pride. Maroon flags also hung with a gold lion symbolizing St Mark. Finally, I only saw one gypsy the whole time I was in Venice. I concluded that it’s too expensive for them to get to the island.
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay in Venice. I can see how some people love it and some people don’t. You definitely have to be patient while traveling on the boats but it’s honestly an incredible city. So unique. Full of so much history. And unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I saw first hand how it’s possible Venice is sinking. The water level was very high on our last night flooding parts of the main square.