Our first impressions of Venice were outstanding; we walked out of the train station straight into a march – it just so happened that we were visiting on the opening day of the Carnevale, meaning everyone was on a happy buzz, dressed up in various costumes and wearing masks of all kinds. The majority of the day was spent walking among cobblestone streets which intertwined with the canals, gazing into numerous shops and eateries along the way.
The best money I have spent since being in Europe so far was the combined €80 we paid for a gondola ride. Lasting for approximately 45 minutes, the boat can seat up to 5 people (therefore the more people present, the cheaper it will be) and not only were we provided with a wonderful and informative gondola driver (easily identifiable in their black and white striped outfits, and usually full to the brim with interesting facts and anecdotes), but also a spectacular view of the city from a whole new perspective. Everywhere you look gondolas are skilfully being steered through the canals, that are lined with houses which have little boats moored at their front doors. A must-do if you ever go to Venice.
We walked until we eventually came across Piazza San Marco – where the opening ceremony of the Carnevale was to occur, in addition to being the home of St Mark’s Basilica, the Clock Tower and a vast array of shops and restaurants that extend right around the perimeter of the square. Dinner time saw us veer off the main drag to indulge at a slightly cheaper (but just as delicious) pizzeria. The main street can sometimes appear quite commercial and expensive, however it doesn’t take much to step into a side street where one’s surroundings instantly transform into an authentic Venetian world. If you have the time it is definitely worth adventuring down these little side streets as it’s where some of the most delightful spots can be found. This may or may not (for us it did not) include a public toilet that is free – all the toilets branching off the main street come at a price!
As night time drew near we joined the queue for the public ferry back to the train station. The queue was long, and it moved slowly. Conscious of the fact that we were relying on the last train of the day to get us home, the other girls outvoted me and made the responsible decision that we should catch a water taxi back to the station to make sure that we did not miss the train! Although I was quite prepared to risk missing our train and seeing the night out in Venice, taking the the water taxi at night was yet another wonderful way to see more of this beautiful city.
Venice is one of those places that rightfully features on most people’s bucket list – even now I can hardly believe that I can say I have been there. It felt like I was walking on a dream all day long, but it is sure to be a dream that I will remember for a long time yet. A day trip was adequate to give us a healthy dose of the Venetian lifestyle and its unbelievable beauty, although it has firmly cemented itself at the top of my “Places to go back to” list.