I almost couldn’t contain myself with excitement as the train approached the Venice Santa Lucia station. I’m finally gonna see Venice with my own eyes?! The romantic, quaint, picturesque Venice I’ve been dreaming of visiting? I got off the train and walked slowly but eagerly to see the city I’ve always daydreamed of.
It’s not hard to understand why someone would be excited to visit Venice. It’s a city where you can easily get lost in but in the best way possible because walking around is such an adventure in itself. And it seems every house/building you pass is vibrantly photogenic in its own way.
From the train station, my friends and I took a stroll all the way to the centre of the city, making pit stops by attractive back streets, bridges and gondolas. Our train arrived at about 10 in the morning which meant that we got to see Venice in the morning light – peacefully beautiful.
From the station it took about 20 minutes to walk to Rialto Bridge where we crossed the Grand Canal and strolled further centre. Whenever I visit a new city I usually (always!) have Google Maps in hand but I decided I wanted to get lost in Venice amongst its rustic Venetian houses. So to my pocket Google Maps went and mind you, we did get lost. We had to put all trust to the street signs leading to Piazza San Marco and it wasn’t easy! (If you don’t have a lot of time, I don’t recommend not using maps!) Venice is notorious for being tricky to navigate.
Getting lost means finding unexpected places, however. I suppose in between the back streets and the alleyways is where you find the quintessential Venetian homes, complete with the colourful laundry railings out the window.
After a few turns and misturns, we finally reached Piazza San Marco where the Basilica di San Marco sits beautifully next to the Grand Canal.
A short walk from the piazza is the famous Bridge of Sighs.
Legend says back in the day, prisoners would sigh getting their final sight of Venice on this bridge before being taken to their cells – hence the name. This spot is definitely one of the most photographed part of Venice so it gets quite crowded here but nevertheless it’s worth stopping over and just having a look for yourself.
Walking along the canal, you’ll find many restaurants with waiters doing their best to lure you in. Menu prices in this area are inevitably more expensive so we decided to stray a little further away. In one of the back streets we found fairly priced pizzas and pastas in a restaurant that promised we didn’t have to pay service charge – just what four tourists with a budget wanted to hear! I’m not gonna talk about the restaurant because let’s just say, it didn’t make the highlights of my trip.
The highlights include however, the gondola ride! Overpriced, a tourist trap – some people would say. It is pretty overpriced especially if you’re on a budget trip but I think it’s a must when visiting Venice for the first time! A 30-minute gondola ride with a gondolier dressed in stripes and a fancy hat costs a whopping 80€! We had to get tactical – there were only four of us and a gondola can take up to six people. After a brief look around, we scouted a French couple who looked like they were up for a romantic gondola ride. We got little lost in translation but in the end they were persuaded and jumped on the gondola with us. 13€ for the ride – not so bad!
Boy was it a sweet ride! 30 minutes were over and it was time to get back on land. I remember feeling so happy that I instigated a group hug with my friends.
More strolling and more photo taking later and we started making our way back to the station, passing by souvenir shops. Venetian masks are definitely a thing here. A nice Italian man selling embroidered goods asked for my name. Why? – I asked. “I will make you something” he responded as he sewed on ‘Allana’ on a piece of paper. I couldn’t have asked for a better souvenir!
It drizzled for a few minutes but it didn’t make Venice look any less appealing. Nearby the station is a Burger King that definitely didn’t look like your typical burger chain. That’s Venice for you! It was time to go home and I’m pretty sure I left a piece of my heart in Venezia. Here’s to another visit soon!
Getting to Venice: I took a train from Milano Centrale and booking early from trenitalia.com, you can get a ticket from 20€ one way. The train ride takes about 2 hours and a half.
Getting around Venice: Since Venice is surrounded by water, the only way to get around is either by foot or by water. There are water taxis for those not eager to walk. I recommend this website for more information.