Some of you follow me on Instagram, some of you not. For those that do, you may have noticed the re-occuring question “why do your photos of Venice look so amazing?” followed by the statement, “I’m going soon, and people keep telling me it was awful, do you have any suggestions”. I find it increasingly difficult to provide people with the recipe to success on how to love your trip, (even more so when all my pics shared here were taken with my iPhone) So, instead, I’ve decided to share exactly how I spent 56 hours in Venice this June.
23:00 Friday night –Arrived by water taxi on a private transfer from San Marco Airport (booked via Viator- usually I find this can be a “hit and miss” affair, but I got lucky this time).
23:30- That moment when you first lay eyes on your home away from home (at least for the next 56 or so hours)
00:00 – 5:00am Zzzzz’s …. Fell off the grid
5:00am Saturday morning- Suffering from a serious case of red eye, and ready to kill for caffeine I left hubby in bed snoring, and made for the deserted streets of Venice to capture it without it teeming with tourists. But, not before I was well aquainted with this marble, and pressure perfect, hot shower (hell, did I need it!)
Showered and ready to go with video camera, iPhone and my SLR in hand I stepped directly out the from my hotel lobby, to be greeted by this view. HOLA!!! Having arrived at night, the darkness had obscured this spectacular sight. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”.
6:00am- 7:30am- I love how a city feels at that disrespectuful hour of the morning. When the paths and laneways, canals and sky belong only to the birds, bakers, hot-air ballooners and bloggers (aka. Me)
It’s quiet. Unadulterated. Peaceful. I love that I can hear myself think, better still that there is room in all of Life’s white noise and frivolous pollution to actually think. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, I believe every city has a heartbeat, and I tend to sync mine with it’s early in the morning. From that point, we understand each other, and by the time life begins to reverberate I’ve already connected in a meaningful way. Anything beyond that just adds an extra dimension to the understanding of that city.
7:45am – Breakfast with a view (back at the Hotel Splendid). The hotel opened the roof within the dining room courtyard where we ate. Feeling the warm air, combined with the adrenalin of being somewhere undiscovered, foreign sights, sounds and smells, this moment albeit simple was a delightful sensory assault.
8:30- 13:30 – Acquainted with a local Venetian (company is Friend in Venice) for an independent private tour of Venice. A tour was customised for us based on my preferences and request that I had communicated via email with the company prior to arriving in Venice. I specifically wanted to be shown where and how locals shop for their groceries and produce. I wanted to see the fishing villages, and the residential areas were Venetians were living. I asked to be taken through the laneways where the women dried laundry outside their windows, and dogs and cats roamed the alleys. Where old men drank with the sun rising, for a 1 hour gondola tour to ferry us further into hidden Venice, and where I could be transported into an enigmatic Venice, where we became part of the story, all his accompanied by a four hour history and cultural lesson from our learned guide Vilma. This tour was the highlight of our Venice experience.
12:30- 17:30- Belini’s, Gelato, Pizza, Gelato, Shopping, Gelato… you get my drift. Got well and truly lost, for about 1 hour.
17:30- 18:30 – SIESTA – we are in Italy after all.
18:30-19:30 – The painful hour walk with blistered feet to dinner at the stunning Riveira Ristorante
19:30- 22:30– Dinner with a view, and I discover my new found love for Belini’s (an authentically Italian alcoholic drink made from fresh peaches).
22:30 – Strolling the streets of Venice at night back to the hotel, and although there are people milling about, alfresco dining and musicians busking there is a soporific sense, a drowsy, mellow Venice, which makes it all the more magical.
23:00 – Zzzz’s Sssh, it’s been a magical dream, don’t wake me.
Sunday 6:00am – 8:30 The bloggers life, early morning starts on repeat. Armed with iPhone, Video camera and SLR time to be re-acquainted with Venice, minus the masses of tourists that get bused, trained, and ferried in each day.
Taking to the streets I got caught in the worst thunder storm of my life, struggled through a language barrier/lost in translation kind of moment with both the military and police (as I asked permission to photograph something) all whilst concealing my belongings underneath my clothing, (including a zoom lens digital SLR camera which in hindsight looked like something more worthy of their stern, unimpressed expressions), slipped whilst wearing my highly treasured Chanel espadrilles in the largest dog poo as I ran across St Marks square in the rain and found the most delicious bakery in the early hours of the morning. All this in search of Academia Bridge, which overlooks the Canal Grande, which I found only to get royally lost within 5 minutes from my hotel, whilst navigating back. Action packed start to my day.
9:00 – Breakfast with The Husband (aka. Love of my life and bff).
10:00am – 14:00 – Explored Venice aimlessly on foot whilst eating our way through the hidden streets.
14:00-15:00– Group tour of St Marks Basilica. Whilst the Basilica was an amazing sight to behold, and the history fascinating the group tour aspect was underwhelming, in fact , to be frank, a down right disappointment. We were led to be believe the experience would be more exciting than the reality turned out to be. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
15:30- 16:00– Independently visited the Bell Tower in St Marks Square for spectacular roof top views over Venice.
18:30– Date night dinner at the most spectacular Gritti Palace. We should have checked the prices before booking, it may have saved us the medical/heart attack bill we experienced when the actual bill arrived after our meal. That being said, Hubby conceded it was the best steak tartare of his life. The Bellini’s that I had were certainly noteworthy and the restaurant interior had me convinced I was living in a Great Gatsby dream. So all’s well that ends well.
20:30 – The long, quiet walk home from dinner, knowing that in the morning we farewell Venice. Arriving at St Marks Square whilst navigating back to the hotel, only to find the Square flooded. When all attempts at crossing in my heels prove a failing success, we surrendered and took the even longer route home. Heels seemed like a good idea at the time.
Monday 8:30am (leaving Venice)- Our chariot awaits (an amazing private water transfer service), to transport us back to San Marco airport. The James Bond experience is relived once more, along with the exhilaration of actually being able to see our surrounds this time (as opposed to when we arrived by night). Venice fades in the distance, as white foam sprays all around us, the Italian flag secured to the rear of the boat whipping wildly in the wind.
Don’t ever let anyone imply or suggest that 48 hours is hardly worthwhile, and not possible to achieve much (whatever “much” may mean), if this is all the time you have to see a city. I achieved 48 hours worth of life changing memories, not to mention the collective memory and experience shared with my husband. Surely, that in itself is invaluable in it’s own right.
One World. One Life. Just Go.