After staying in Lake Garda for a few days, we were ready to head out for our next adventure two hours east in one of the most popular tourist places in the world; Venice. The drive along the Italian highway was nice and I was surprised that our German BMW wasn’t too big for the Italian roads. In fact, I thought the highways were wider in Italy than in Germany! When we arrived we planned to park outside of Venice since everything I had researched said that trying to drive into Venice was a pain and, up to a certain point, impossible. Once we arrived and found the parking garage I was happy to see that it was only 4 Euro per day to park there. We found a bus stop nearby and hopped on.
Reflections of Venice
If you’ve never been to Venice before, it’s hard to see from photos but it is an absolute maze of winding roads and cobblestone streets that randomly seem to end without any warning. I guess I can’t blame them. It’s not as if the city had intentions of accommodating hoards of tourists in the future. We were there in May and the weather was quite perfect, much different from Lake Garda that we had just come from.
We stayed at a building dating back hundreds of years that used to be a palace. It was a home turned into a bed and breakfast and was run by a very sweet old lady. My sister and I had a room and bathroom to ourselves and it was overall quite lovely. The lady told us a lot about the place and the area as well. While the breakfast wasn’t anything to brag about, she made homemade bread for us in the morning and we had lots of fresh fruit available whenever we wanted (that was the entire breakfast though!). Also, she made coffee in an old fashioned Italian coffee maker on the stove. That was really delicious. I’m a bit of a self-declared coffee snob and her rendition hit the spot every morning.
We only had two days in Venice to do everything. I’d actually visited when I studied abroad in Italy back in 2006, but wanted to go back and take better photos and play tourist to my sister as well. Coming from Garda, Venice was very dirty. While Italy isn’t known for being the cleanest place ever, Venice is especially dirty. Along with dirty streets with trash and plenty of spots where dogs left their mark, the canals have a lovely sewage smell that only gets better as it gets warmer out. However, the sights make it all worth it. Venice is truly a one of a kind city. It’s unfortunate that it is now overrun by tourists from all corners of the Earth, but I suppose I fit right in with them.
Tip: To avoid the large crowds, I would recommend visiting in the off-season, which is fall/winter/early spring time (except for carnival, of course, but that would be a fun party to see!).
I felt like during midday we found ourselves navigating through the crowds and not really being able to enjoy much. It was more like we were trying to find a spot that wasn’t so cramped. At night the streets open up and walking around Venice at night is pretty cool. Many of the streets aren’t very well lit so a phone with flashlight capabilities is helpful if you find yourself out late!
Venice is not the cleanest place in the world....
Below: All these VHS tapes were just sitting, unaccompanied, along this ledge and all over the trash can.
There were a lot of crowds already in May
Many people may not know this, but there are a lot of islands surrounding Venice and many are worth a visit. Just across the way is one called Lido, and once you get off the water taxi it’s a 5 minute walk across the thin island to a long beach awaiting on the other side. May must have been too cold for the Italians, because when we went it was empty! There were maybe 20 people on the entire beach. The umbrellas with chairs were empty, the bar areas was empty. It was quite nice! We happily sat in the sand and hung out there all afternoon one day. It was nice to get away from the craziness of Venice and see something a little more natural and scenic. I think I can only handle so much brick and concrete before I need to get away! This, again, may be because it was cooler (mid-70’s) but there were no bugs on the beach which I found so strange. No little critters in the sand at all. No flies. Nothing. We laid out on the sand for a few hours in complete bliss.
Below: This is the only image I have from Lido on the beach. As you can see, there really weren't many people there at all. The sandy beach was a nice escape from the concrete and touristy area of Venice
We were able to see quite a bit of Venice while we were there. I think we walked the island two times over. That’s half the fun of being in Venice; just wandering the streets and trying to get lost, possibly in a more local area. We did a tour with Viator one night and it was alright. We ended with a gondola ride that wove through the canals. When I studied abroad we did a gondola ride and at that time one of the students with us could sing opera, so he stood up and gave a show (impressive on a gondola). Alas, that didn’t happen this time. It was nice navigating through some of the canals and is one of those must-do’s when you go to Venice. The tour guide showed us the college area of Venice. The bars have cheaper drinks and there’s more of a local crowd there.
Overall, Venice was nice. The food was good, the seafood was the best and I think I’m satisfied checking out other places in Italy now. I think I need to just stay away from the tourist areas. We always seem to have more fun when we go off the beaten path.
I think it was from all the recent flooding and rain we had, but St. Mark's Square flooded every night we were there. Most people had no choice but to walk through it, and many people were playing in the water!
The second photo was taken hand held. I'm really impressed by how sharp it turned out for a night time hand held image. I LOVE my Canon 6D!
There were so many painter's in Venice. What a wonderful way to spend the day...
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