Also as part of our Europe farewell tour, Venice marked the third time that we visited Italy during our time in Germany. Without looking too hard at the calendar, we booked our trip to Venice in mid February—flying home on Sunday, Valentine’s day, and directly after Carnival. Carnival may be best known in Venice for the extravagant masks that are adorned – these were all over when we were there, and there was tons of confetti on the street from the parade that went through.
The city is absolutely striking and unique. Walking from the bus station to the hotel was very straightforward, as the pathways are convoluted and don’t head in one direction for too long. That’s why it made sense for us to get the Rolling Venice Card, which is a combination entrance pass and travel pass, which gave us access to the ferries that cut through the city and nearby areas—it was definitely needed in Venice! It was also a great deal as they had an “under 30” much cheaper version, which were able to take advantage of.
Of course one of the first things we had to do was take a gondola ride. It was rainy on-and-off almost the entire time we were there, so as we were talking around and the sun peeked out for a bit, we stopped by one of the many gondola stops and found an acceptable gondolier. The prices are set by the city, and the romance is reduced a bit by the endless stream of gondolas—it was common to see strings of 5 in a row. Plus, they don’t actually sing! That only happens in movies. Nevertheless, it is a once in a lifetime experience, so we donated to the local economy. We started out on a small canal near our hotel, went out the main drag and under the famous Rialto bridge, before heading back.
Before we went to Venice, many of our German friends scoffed at how expensive it is. You pay 15 Euros for a cappuccino in the main square! Well, it certainly was expensive—I didn’t see any cafes selling a 15 Euro cappuccino, but I did see 10-12. St. Mark’s Square, headlined by St. Mark’s Basilica, is lined by splendid architecture and offers endless people watching. Just around the corner you can find crowds gawking at the Bridge of Sighs—an enclosed bridge with just a small glimpse the outside beauty in Venice—which is the last view prisoners got while one their way to jail.
There was a funny occurence about the city's beauty—Kevin was dragging Deanna all over the city trying to take some nice photos. After reading a review online, we made our way up on a bridge that had a nice overlook over the city. After taking a few pictures, Kevin looked up, and instantly recognized the view—it is the exact view of a poster of Venice that Kevin had up since his first apartment! We had totally forgotten about that poster until we saw it in real life.
Venice offers many classical music concerts—we went to a Vivaldi concert in a church, since he was born and raised there. We expected a lovely evening, but were treated to a highly unique performance. This cello performer stole the show with his wildly dramatic motions, movements, and expressions. Kevin couldn’t stop watching him! It’s hard to explain just how emphatically he moved and acted, an absolute juxtaposition with the typical classical musician.
With our travel card, we were also able to take a boat to two nearby islands, Murano and Burano. Murano is just a mile or two from Venice, but became the world famous glass-making area after the glass factories were forced to move out of crowded Venice due to fear or fire. Glass factories and showrooms line the streets offering a wide variety of beautiful and expensive products. We saw a live glass blowing demonstration and ended up with a variety of products to bring back, including the horse we watched the glassmaker mold in just minutes. Similar in name, Burano is a fishing island somewhat further past Murano. It’s draw are the brightly painted houses which really pop with the canal in the foreground and beautiful reflections off of the water. Just take a look at the pictures!
Venice is a beautiful, unique, touristy, and expensive city—but is absolutely worth a visit if you are in the area. We would have regretted not making it there!