Highlights of Venice – Part Two

Ahh, Venice…

You’ve come to part two, funnily enough there is a part one…..have you read it yet?! If not, read here

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We decided to take a walking tour and Gondola ride combo from the tourist office on the second day.  I’m not the biggest fan of organised tours and I tend to try and work things out myself. But there was just too much to learn and very little time; we felt like we were missing out on interesting tales and facts not found on plaques or in guide books (not that we had one to be fair. We rarely do!) But a lesson learnt and I would strongly recommend one for Venice!

 

A distant shot of Ponte Di Rialto/Rialto Bridge. Can you believe that was built in three years? Completed in 1591

Santa Maria del Giglio

One of the great things about the tour was it didn’t take us to all the obvious places such as Basilica San Marco/St Mark’s Church or Palazzo Ducale/Doge’s Palace. Instead we wandered through the back streets and learnt about local living and traditions as well as the history of the architecture. We came away with so much more knowledge and what was once just another pretty building became so much more with juicy stories behind those walls.

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Chiesa di Santo Stefano. Pisa isn’t the only place for leaning towers!

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It was also really interesting to learn of their constant struggle to keep Venice afloat. It’s amazing the amount of floors they’ve had to raise to keep things above the water levels and people tend not to reside on ground floors. Nowhere are the floors even or level either, watch where you’re going! Our tour guide had a vast array of knowledge and a lot of enthusiasm; I would definitely recommend one of these tours to make the most of your time here.

Considering I recently read that Gondola rides were voted Europe’s second most disappointing attraction and then add the fact there is a standard daytime charge of €80 for a 30 min ride, we were a little hesitant to partake. I mean, I had visions of these lavish, charming, animated men in striped tops and ribboned hats, serenading all who rode their ornate handmade beauties. Instead most seemed a little lazy and disheartened, there wasn’t much enthusiasm. We only saw a handful of gondoliers actually making an effort with information and stories or serenading their guests which is a shame as to me it’s all part of the experience; but maybe my expectations were too high and my imagination of this stereotype has run wild all these years!

It was a happy medium taking a ride as a package tour, it worked out cheaper but bear in mind you’re not taken the on the usual popular canal route, we went down quieter back alley canals, but ‘off the beaten canal’ is fine for us plus we’d already walked the popular canals. Would I do it again? Probably not, but I’m pleased I did it once. To be voted the second most disappointing attraction is a bit harsh though I feel, it wasn’t exactly offensive!

You can always get a traghetti across to the other side of the Grand Canal for €2. They are just like a gondola except they are not as ornate in design, there are two gondoliers, more passengers and you are only on board a few minutes as they are just a practical form of transport as opposed to an attraction.

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On the last day we were due to go on a boat trip to nearby Murano, Burano and Torcello islands but we woke to the worst fog and choppy waters so decided against it. Instead, we mooched around, bought some gifts and did a bit of cheeky shopping to get myself some Italian wears, of course!

Palazzo Ducale/Doge’s Palace

Where George wed 🙂

We went inside Basilica Di San Marco which was outstanding. It was free to get in with small charges for certain areas once inside. We paid to go into the treasury and upstairs to the museum and balcony. Both well worth the extra cash.

Apparently tourists love a bit of pigeon taming. Not for me thanks!

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Some things I loved most:

  • Always something to feast you’re eyes on just wandering around and a lot to do for free just roaming the streets and popping into churches and open buildings.
  • Water! I love watery scenes.
  • The architecture is magnificent.
  • The romance! It is hard not to find it here.
  • The people. Both locals and tourists alike, we met so many great people on this trip and learnt a lot.
  • Easy(ish) to navigate. And if you get lost? Even better 🙂
  • Cheap Prosecco!
  • Like a lot of people, I have a penchant for sunsets. These bad boys were perfect and Venice gives the perfect backdrop.

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While wandering, we came across a hidden history of instrument exhibition in a beautiful church. Our brains were totally frazzled by then so I can’t remember where!

Things I didn’t love so much:

  1. Yep it’s true, it does smell. Even in winter!
  2. Price of food, drink and the toilet prices: €1.50! At least they are very clean and there are lots of them. Even out of the tourist areas food isn’t cheap, nor is it in the supermarket.
  3. The amount of tourists was immense at times. With narrow alleys and bridges this can become frustrating. But like Amsterdam and other big cities, it is probably better to go during the week rather than at weekends.
  4. Rose sellers, street vendors and gondoliers get annoying touting for business, but like any popular tourist destination you get used to it. Just politely decline even if it does feel like Groundhog Day!

 

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You may have noticed I love a lamp post, they can make great photos IMO!

All in all we had a really good time in Venice. I would recommend anyone who has not been to book a trip there and go and indulge. See it for yourself and take it all in. That said, I don’t foresee us going back there anytime soon. There are way too many places to see, and a good few places in Italy we fancy before returning to Venice.

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Always need a Bridge of Sighs selfie. This was the last thing prisoners saw before being locked up in the chambers of Doge’s Palace

 

Thank you for reading! Have you read part one yet? Have you ever been to Venice? What are your favourite things to do? Comment below, share the love and like away or follow me on www.facebook.com/thehardytraveller and Twitter @HardyTravellers

As you know, I am a spring chicken at this blogging lark. As such there isn’t much content, yet! As my blog grows, keep your eyes peeled for more posts on our past trips such as our road trip London – Amsterdam (and all the treats in between) and our upcoming trip to over the water to check out the Christmas markets next month and Thailand early 2015. Or you can check out my current posts such as Amsterdam – My Favourite City in the World! Amsterdam My Way – Top 10 Tips and Things to do, Get Lost in the Peak District, There is More to Kinderdijk than Just Windmills! My top 5 Travel Tunes, Travel the World and the Seven Seas,  Salgados-Portugal, Seasalter, Whitstable and Friendship,  Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, Where Angels Fear to Tread  or A Few Hours to Kill in London Town. I appreciate every single one of you, thank you for reading!

 

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Highlights of Venice – Part One | The Hardy Traveller

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