Venice is a place of happy memories. And the memories that are created just get better with each visit. That sounds like I’ve been alot- I haven’t. But when I first went at 11 years old with my family, it was a summer surprise and full of magic. It’s been 10 years since that trip, and I was the lucky birthday girl that got whisked off her feet for a birthday weekend away to celebrate 21 in style.
He planned it all. And he did a bellisimo job! From getting my passport details, to booking speedy boarding plane tickets, the hotel, my little Lonely Planet guide, and everything else, Honey- ya did good.
On arrival, we caught a bus from the Marco Polo airport to the edge of the waters of Venice where we jumped on a water taxi and glided down the Grand Canal. Stopping to collect others at various points, we had plenty of time to take in the sights from the water, and what sights they were!
We stayed in San Marco, a very popular area only a few hundred feet from the famous St. Marks Square. The hotel- Hotel Ala- was beautiful, it had a very old, regal, european feel to it, with golden detail in grand headboard above the bed and dark wooden floors and furniture. There was also a cherub on the wall above our bed… admittedly, a little weird to have there, and not the face I thought I’d be waking up to. Still not sure how I feel about that. The view into the square that we were in was from a tiny balcony with those wonderful big wooden shutters that I adore! I would definitely put shutters on my windows if I could. Although we couldn’t see the canal from our room, it was just a couple of buildings along and we did have a great view across the city’s rooftops. Does that sound boring or sarcastic? I don’t mean it to, I have a thing about rooftops, I find them quite romantic. Maybe its because of the amount of sky above them, the serenity of how un-disturbed they usually are, or maybe that they can sometimes all be so different and have their own completely under rated character and style!
We walked, we talked, we drank, we ate, we explored, we celebrated, we drank and ate some more and I felt so elated the whole time.
Having been in the summer previously, I can certainly say that I preferred being there in February. The weather, although a couple of white/grey sky days, was ideal as it wasn’t too cold, and it wasn’t hot enough to bring out any smells that you can expect from a city on water with open markets and fishmongers… Also, it wasn’t heaving with other tourists. Often times in busy, popular cities trying to walk together at a relaxed pace and hold hands is just impossible, someone usually ends up trying to lead the other through the crowds (and I usually get lost). This just wasn’t like that, we could walk everywhere together at our own leisure. The only time I lost him was when I wandered off to get some photos in a different direction (but I do that a lot and it didn’t take him long to find me). Below are the pictures I ran off to get.
Walking through the streets was an incredible experience. Everything was the same but different. Until we realised that it was the same and although we weren’t going in any direction, we kept finding ourselves in the same places. We knew this because this carousel became a little landmark to us.
The buildings are perfectly imperfect, with their weathered fronts, that sun bleached paint. The cobbles on the streets, the quiet, empty bridges over the sweetest canals. The architecture was just like you would imagine it to be in an old story. It was wildly and effortlessly romantic.
Oh romance, who ever said it was dead must have been inside. That first glass of wine – Ah! So impeccable it could have been the flavour of romance if it were something you could taste or perhaps it was simply the company I was in that brought that ambiance. In my mind, when I look back at this moment, it’s set out like this; We’re sat in a window seat bar, dimmed lights through the mostly empty restaurant, the counter next to us elegantly dressed, and the evening is getting a little darker outside. Im sat next to a very handsome man who happens to be there to celebrate my 21st birthday with me, and although we were hungry, we were happy. Happy, excited to be there, and enjoying that delicious glass of red. We were also pretty set on finding pizza soon, you can’t be unhappy knowing that there is pizza around the corner. Or even better, every corner!
During the 3 days we spent there, we walked and explored a fair amount.We frequented a little old breakfast bar for croissants and cappuccinos in the mornings, marvelled at the sights to see in , and so many other areas including of course, Rialto. Then spent our afternoons, evenings and nights looking for the hidden gems of the city, the places the locals eat at. Because to do as the locals do, you can’t go wrong. On one occasion, I am proud to say that I even tried the tentacles in the calamari we ordered. Oh yes I did!
Despite going in, with the LP guide’s top attractions in mind, we found our own pace whilst we were there and discovered that we both run on the same desire to explore and appreciate every little characteristic of the city for exactly what it was. We started so strong, with plans to visits all of these historic places with great recommendations, but we quickly discovered that to find our own pace was the best way to see the city and enjoy it, rather than rush past life there in order to get to a destination because someone else told us it would be good to. Did you know, that the Rialto bridge as it is today is the third time that it has been built? Over and over due to fire and destruction, yet it is still so in keeping with the old, rich,gothic style that the city spills into all its architecture. We decided against taking a gondola ride, beautiful as they looked, we were happy to walk (and spend our pennies on the many crepes, gelato parlours and aperol spritz bars that we came across). On the last day, we took a trip to the Peggy Guggenheim museum, where we saw paintings that moved us, paintings that scared us (cough, me, cough) and sculptures that we tried to understand. I am a big fan of art, and I know we both went in with open minds, but I can’t say I expected to come across so many pieces that I wished I could hang in our own home. Again, beautiful.
Venice, you mesmerised me. Took me out of my own world for a weekend, and brought me to a place that you only want the classics for. I didn’t check my emails, I hardly used my phone, I ran out of space on my camera and had to pinch myself on many occasion.