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Venice, a City Every Bit as Beautiful as the Picture Postcards

22 January 2013 No Comment

I remember the first time I set foot on the narrow streets of Venice. I was young and inexperienced in travel, and I hadn’t a clue what to expect. Ten years later I returned to the city to experience it the way I wanted to the first time around. This time I knew how to get the most out of my stay here.

The story starts many years back during my college days. A few of my friends had been included in a trip around Italy as part of their History course. I hadn’t taken the subject myself, but there was a seat available for anybody that wanted it. I wanted it purely for the fact it was a trip away from home, an adventure, and a chance to have fun with my friends in a foreign land. I booked my seat and awaited the departure date.

The trip around Italy was memorable in so many ways. The sights and sounds, the history and the architecture were all far different to anything I had seen before, and I loved every minute of the trip. I lost my luggage in Italy, and didn’t re-acquaint myself with the clothes inside until nearly 8 months later, but this is another story for another time.

Venice for me was the highlight of the 10 day trip, yet it was far too brief to enjoy it properly. I remember being lost down the winding maze of narrow roads and streets, hurriedly trying to get back to where we were meant to be, bellies full of pizza and red wine. You see, a few of us decided to break ranks during our free time in the city, and wound up at a restaurant to sample the local cuisine. We hadn’t realised how far we had come, or how long we had been enjoying ourselves for. But when we had to get back, we ended up running through the crowds of tourists in a desperate measure to get back in time. Needless to say, we failed, but what a great experience this day had been!

A whistle-stop tour of the main square and surrounding buildings concluded our time in Venice, and it was over before it had begun, but the memories have stayed with me, and are as vivid now as they were ten years gone. It frightens me to think that I could one day forget all the experiences I have been lucky enough to gain so far.

My time since this trip has seen me tour New Zealand and Australia, as well as many countries throughout Europe, and I always wanted to re-visit Italy – and Venice especially – to see what I failed to see first time around. Upon returning to Venice – this time with a backpack, and nobody to help with directions or itineraries – I found myself in a familiar, yet completely different city. This time I had to make my own way, but this is exactly what I adore about travel, and the thought of staying in any one place for as long as I want, with only myself to please. Having travelled to many places before my return to Venice, I already had experience in what to do, and it wasn’t long before I was in amongst the flocks of tourists, jostling for space down the streets that seem to close in on you. I walked for miles to my hostel, stopping to look at the map or to gaze through a sweet shop window, or to admire the precision unloading and packing of the fresh fish by the water’s edge from the numerous fishermen earning a living.

It was early in the morning and I had just experienced an overnight train journey which involved a border check and a drunken passenger, and so I was feeling the effects of fatigue. The morning mist kept most of Venice hidden from me at this early hour, but as the day wore on, so more of Venice appeared in front of me.

My hostel was close now, yet I had water to cross in order to get there. Before I could think about what kind of water taxi ticket to purchase, I was confronted by a very pleasant and helpful local. She had a full, multi-use ticket that she no longer had need for, and was anxious to give it to somebody who might need it. Luckily for me, I was this person, and accepted the ticket with much thanks. With this ticket I could ride the taxis without limits for the remainder of my time in Venice. This was very unexpected, and very well received.

Venice has a way of making busy city life feel so much more fun. The fact that cars are nowhere to be seen definitely helps with this. The constant bibbing from the boat’s horns was great fun. The waters are busy, but not unpleasantly so. In this fast paced life, everything seems so relaxed and laid back. Sure enough the big boats want the gondolas out of the way, and the gondola drivers frantically paddle their way out of the paths of these boats, yet it is all in good spirit, and kept a permanent smile upon my face. I already loved Venice.

During the daytime Venice is awash with camera-yielding travellers and holiday makers alike. Some locals go about their daily business in the shadows, whilst others take full advantage of the constant turnover of fresh people to the city, touting for business with their stalls or novelty shops. The hotspots remain busy until the evening time when everything changes.

At night Venice is lit up in the most beautiful way, with walkways lined with lights and bridges draped in many colours. No longer are the hotspots bustling with people, as people flock to the restaurants and eateries, or line the streets with their recently-bought snacks or novelty gifts. The waterways glisten in the moonlight and the busy routes become silent and calm. Music can now be heard from many directions as the upper class restaurants lure in the wealthy tourists. For me, I like nothing better than to just walk in every direction, sampling all the sights and sounds, whilst looking out for the perfect place to eat.

One particular evening saw me eating at a very small and beautiful restaurant, nestled among the larger buildings and somewhat hidden away from the main walkways. The place had character and the staff worked their magic on the few guests that visited this evening. Indeed I think the majority of visitors were in fact locals, I being the only tourist. It was a lovely meal in tranquil surroundings.

Aside from the usual tourist spots, Venice has much to offer, and having my water taxi ticket meant there were no limitations. I walked everywhere and saw many places off the tourist trails. Often I was surprised by the uncharacteristic places that presented themselves to me. These places were not in the brochures or magazines, and they were not the Venice I imagined seeing. Many places were run down to the point of collapse and the people that resided there were evidently poor. Their homes were unclean and unkempt, and were in contrast to the places I have seen up until now. I guess it is to be expected that the tourist spots are maintained and well-kept for obvious reasons, and when scratching away the surface you can learn so much more about a place. I was glad to see this part of Venice. There are many ways to spend a day in Venice for those looking for most engaging experience.

I have many stories from my time in Venice, but far too many for one post. All I can say is that if you get the chance to visit Venice, then take it. Venice is beautiful and fun by day, yet calm and laid back by night. So, check out venere.com for incredible hotels to make your stay in Venice one to remember for a lifetime.

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Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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