After experiencing my Lizzie McGuire moment at the Trevi Fountain in between my mental breakdowns in Rome, it was time for us to head off to Venice, Italy! Out of the three destinations we travelled to in Italy, I think Venice was my favourite and I’d love to go back someday!
Throughout our trip with my parents, we had taken trains as our mode of transportation quite a lot. We used two different train companies, Italo and Thalys; Italo was a hot-mess-express, (and naturally, the majority of our trains were booked through them). But, I would recommend Thalys. Both train companies offered the same amenities: bathrooms and snacks on board, a four-seater carriage for groups and complimentary wifi. On Thalys, everything we were promised upon booking was what we received on the train. With Italo, it was like a party-grab-bag at a birthday, you never really knew what you were going to get until you got onboard. For whatever reason, when booking with Italo, if you book in advance and not the day of, the seats that you select and pay for will likely be different than the seats you’re actually booked for. Italo has decided that it makes sense to accept all of these bookings months in advance, up until the hour the train departs, and then hopes for the best when it comes to the seating arrangement. For example, when traveling to Venice, I had booked a four-seater carriage for all of us, and there were two people sitting in the opposite row already with the same tickets as my parents. As there were free seats across the isle, my parents ended up sitting there instead. But, as we were sitting there, for the next three stops we had three different families come up and try to move us out of our seats because Italo had overbooked our specific carriage. It wasn’t until an employee came up a couple of hours later and explained their ass-backwards logic to us about the seating arrangements. The employees on the train kept saying that the email we booked with would have received an update with our new seats prior to our travels (I didn’t), and that if we had logged into our account on their website, we would’ve seen the updated seating arrangements (which I had done prior, no updates). To top it all off, the wifi didn’t even work! To this day, I still don’t understand why a company would think it makes sense to accept bookings months in advance when they don’t know what kind of train they’ll be using, how many people that specific train will be able to hold, or why they would use a system that overbooks the same seats, time and time again. Needless to say, for every train ride with Thalys, I followed the employees around until they confirmed that the seats on my tickets were correct before I sat down after that venture. But, that practice didn’t reach the rest of the riders on the train, so there were still many opportunities for frustrating language barriers, people sitting in the wrong seats, and me getting glared at because I was thorough before boarding the train and got us pre-checked before sitting down. I’m pretty sure one of the petty glaring humans took an unflattering image of me and shared it with her friends, saying lots of mean things about me in Italian.
One traumatic train ride later, and we were finally in Venice. Once you stepped out of the train station, you were surrounded by classic Venetian buildings and the winding canals. As it was getting late in the afternoon, we hurriedly crossed the bridges and cobblestone walkways to our AirBnb for check-in before heading out for the afternoon. I had limited time in Venice, but per usual, I had an ambitious list of sights I wanted to see. I was interested in the St. Marks Square, the Bridge of Sighs, a gondola ride (duh), Aperolspritz and gelato! Venice is entirely on the water, there’s no cars or otherwise road-oriented transportation; you either walk or take a boat. We decided to roam by foot to begin our adventure; from our apartment to the St. Marks Square, it was about a 30 minute walk. But, from there we were handy to most of the sights that we wanted to see in our short time. Our walk to the square was filled with winding streets and alleys filled with boutique shops and restaurants. You could honestly spend hours just walking around Venice aimlessly while you window shopped and popped into little restaurants or cafes for a bite to eat here and there. We arrived in St. Marks just before sunset, so we were able to check out all of the seriously impressive architecture in the area. Afterwards, we were going back and forth about getting a gondola ride. We had all heard varying tales of how it burns a hole in your wallet and how it’s incredibly overpriced, but this was one of those things that I wasn’t leaving Italy without experiencing and I was determined to get myself into a gondola. From St. Marks, there was a row of gondola boats and different tours available. The price of the tour was determined by how long you spent in the boat; the longer the tour, the more you’re able to see, the more expensive the boat ride is. Like I said before, we had all heard how expensive these rides could be, so I was a little apprehensive when I asked the tour guide how much a gondola ride was. When they told me it was €25/person, I all but jumped in the boat so he couldn’t change his mind. The gondola rides are supposed to be all regulated by the city of Venice, so there really shouldn’t be as dramatic of a price jump as people made it seem. There’s definitely some misinformed individuals on the internet. The four of us climbed into the boat, and embarked on a 40 minute tour throughout Venice. Our tour guide was really great, he explained a lot of the history and different facts about the landmarks of the city while we went around. Some of the highlights for our gondola ride was Marco Polo’s house and the Bridge of Sighs. While we didn’t realize this, but it’s totally cool for you to bring a bottle of wine onto the boat to enjoy while you go around. After we had done our loop of the canals, we returned to the docking area for the gondolas and made our trek back to the apartment. Our apartment was located on the canals, with shops, restaurants and bars leading up to it. As we were walking back, we were able to check off the glutinous part of our time in Venice. We tried our first Italian gelato, Aperolspritz and grabbed a couple of pizzas to take back with us to share. The gelato was very tasty, but I found that the selection from this particular place did taste more ice-creamy than I was hoping for. Then we were able to grab a couple glasses of Aperolspritz to enjoy on the rest of our walk back. Aperolspritz is definitely not for everyone, but I found it refreshing after walking around for hours. We made it back to the apartment in perfect time because a huge thunderstorm broke out minutes after we got inside. We spent the evening eating some of the best pizza that I've tried and watching the lighting streak through the sky.
As soon as we finished our day in Venice, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I had wished I booked us a longer stay there. I loved this little city, and I’ll absolutely be coming back for a longer stay, some day!