From the shopping haven of Milan, it’s time for some rest and relaxation. Venice is definitely not short of that. Upon arrival via Trenitalia, we were greeted by a floating city straight out from the train station.

 

On a chilly night, under the stars, serenaded by a Christmas song played on a violin, the aroma of true Italian coffee chasing my senses, passing through a nostalgic narrow alley with romantic balconies, bridges and water, ristorantes with ambient light, I was so sure right there, Venice is going to be love.

 

The Batcave

Hotel Alle Guglie. Very homey feel.

 

Hotel Alle Guglie, and I can imagine the rest of the many hotels, is so old school, in design and in function.

Just look at the room key (photo above), and it actually worked that way (giant key holes!).

Train Station : Venezia Santa Lucia

Stazione Venezia Santa Lucia

 

That’s the view as soon as I stepped out of the door. Oh yes! It’s water right outside the train station! It’s “hello Venice with a bang!” Who wouldn’t get excited to get this travelthon leg on?!

 

I wasn’t expecting the big Michael Kors billboard, though. I imagined more of an absolute disconnect from civilization, or something.

 

I’m convinced that pictures can paint a thousand words, so let the snaps tell the colorful, quaint, and nostalgic story of Venice through my eyes.

 

The Places

Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)

View from the Rialto bridge
Business on boats

 

Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge spanning the grand canal in Venice demarcating San Marco from San Polo. Observing from its point of view, one can tell how Venice is at work–everything on boats: supplies of all kinds, people to work, or to tourist destinations.

It’s a dreamy city void of “normalcy” that I think it’s an ideal destination to travel to–exactly because it brings you to a totally different world.

 

Parking “water”
Shipment boats

 

Saint Mark’s Basilica

 

Saint Mark’s Basilica is the most famous of the city’s churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine Architecture.

 

A normal itinerary in Venice for first timers would be getting lost in the narrow alleys full of shops with the final destination in Saint Mark’s Basilica.

 

St Mark’s Basilica intricate interior/ceiling

 

The cathedral used to be known as the “Church of Gold” for its status as the symbol of Venetian wealth and power. It’s huge, pretty intricately designed as usual, populated by tour groups in queue with audio lectures banging their headphones.

Weirdly positioned behind the altar is an entrance to a ticketing area to an art museum.

We’ve had so much of that in the Louvre and we wanted to see more of the present, so we stepped back.

 

Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)

See how narrow the alleys are
Piazza San Marco

When we reached St. Mark’s Square, the shock in me can’t help but ask where all this people came from and where they were staying. Venice seemed like a tiny place that can only accommodate a quarter of the people who showed up here in this morning.

Who says there is a global recession with all these tourists? One can hardly see a real Venetian local.

Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) 

The Doge’s Palace is one of the landmarks and was the residence of the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice.

I actually thought this was a continuation to the Basilica. It was hard to tell.

Only in Venice

Spooky masks. The origin of mascara festival
Delivery “Truck”

 

This delivery truck manhandled by a delivery boy is a classic proof that there’s no other mode of transportation in this quaint city of water but boats! 

The Ride

Gondola
 

Popular advice says not to burn Euros on this serenading, private tour boats. It was off-peak when we came but the rates are still pretty costa tropo! But if riding one is really on your bucket list and you’d die leaving Venice sans the experience, then maybe it will be worth it. But for regular folks like me, the waterbus can still float my boat. And the view is just the same, while pocket in tact. : j

Because the Gondola men were always standing, I thought, the water was just shallow that they propel the boat by touching the ground.
Apparently the canal is 16.5 ft deep! Life vest alert!

 

Water Taxi/Bus

a. Entrance to station; b. Ticket validation machine; c. Station signage; d. Waterbus stop

 

Tip. Never forget to validate the ticket before boarding the waterbus.

There is a machine that prints on ticket to indicate that it has been used in that particular day (photo letter b; that white vertically rectangular box in the center).

I’ve heard unwarranted hassles await not doing so! A friend’s reminder cannot stress that enough. We giddily obliged. Like tourists testing new-to-eyes machine. The station employee with curly hair willingly assisted like it was her mission in life.
(Always a pleasure to be served by workers who serve like that.)
The need to dock and anchor every station.

 

(I thought the old woman in the third quadrant looks like a villain in a movie like the Devil Wears Prada. Very cool fashion, even for oldies.)

The Experience  
 

left: Hello Tondo! (with better windows and lights); right: lovely balcony in one of the alleys

Venice is a little city which can be roamed around in just a day.

I think the best experience to have here is not the Gondola but walking down the narrow alleys and not caring about getting lost (which we spontaneously did!).

 

We had an itinerary in mind but one store in front of our hotel led to more others that eventually we didn’t know which way to go.

So we carried on with our getting lost from one quaint artsy shop in one narrow alley to the next leather heaven.

 

We literally just followed the flow of people and alas! there were tourists flocking a bridge posing for pictures that led us to believe we could have reached one of the landmarks.

Indeed, it was Rialto off our list.

I really have a thing for this look

 

Being asked out in our first night in Venice

So they say, Venice is a city for the romantics, and in our first night, it didn’t waste time to prove why so.

After settling down in the warm comforts of our quaint hotel room, I went out to grab some dinner for take out. Before even given the chance to scout the nearby ristorantes, a guy from the cafe in front of our hotel made himself noticed and eventually after some chitchats invited me for a coffee. I begged off. I’m tired. He’s a stranger. This is my first night in the city– I haven’t met her.


Tip. Look out for posters announcing live performances that may sometimes be free.

In the Canals of Venice
 

Thoughts in Venice

(as saved in my phone’s notes)

  • I felt really blessed, thankful, lucky. I have what I want and need. It’s time to serve when I get back.
  • Interesting to watch people’s behavior in train.
  • Interesting that they look at me, no, they stare at the “alien” face.
  • I find amusing and a breath of weird fresh air the non-automatic train/elevator doors! People need to push the doors!
  • Italian music appreciation
  • My dream to have my arts and craft shop was awakened here. I saw my vision in fully functional existence and it’s so beautiful, just like I imagined it!
  • Ironic that I didn’t see a single Venetian blinds in Venice! : p
  • No touching of merchandise until after purchase. It’s odd I know, but that’s how passionate(?) they are of their immediate environment?
  • A bigger Baguio, the nostalgia of which is just so familiar
  • The world’s Venice is my Baguio. It brings you to a place of solace, of nostalgia. It’s small, homey, cozy, comforting.
Green grocery shopping bag in Venice. Every place in the world should follow.

: j