From Ireland, we hopped on a plane in the early morning and headed to Italy. To say we were 'all over the map' on this trip would be an accurate statement; we made good use of the 10 days we had :)
Venice surprised me. To go from Ireland to Italy was a bit of a shock, but mostly due to temperature. Italy welcomed us with high 90's temperature and crowds of people (aka little breeze and some major BO). Each of us also got a bit sea sick on the water taxi from the airport to the hotel. Mix that with being tired and sweaty, and Venice didn't stand a good chance of love at first sight.
But I warmed up. Both literally and hypothetically. It's hard to walk down the streets and not have one million questions in your mind, this city has a way to spur your curiosity and imagination, for that, I loved it!
It's difficult to wrap your head around the reality of this city. There's no such thing as a vehicle or roadway. The serendipitous scene of a man standing at the back of a gondola is a typical view. The endless rows of tall buildings, each pained in different colors, doors open into hundreds of waterways, no greenery or yards, the exposed original brick that gives you glimpses of the early centuries; all real life, and one that pictures can't accurately explain.
We stayed in Venice for two days, which was the perfect amount of time. We were able to enjoy the culture, cuisine, visit multiple landmarks and shop the countless stores. The weather forced us to give up any hope of looking somewhat presentable, so the pictures from Venice are a bit limited. I'm not convinced that anyone wants to see us in a pool of our own sweat. Thank me later.
My favorite memories are those of us eating meals on the waterfront while people watching. Call me an old person at heart, or a complete romantic, but it was just lovely. It felt like we were in a scene of a movie, sipping on morning coffee or a nice glass of vino, eating fresh fruit and watching the gondolas go by under the horizon painted with buildings that spoke of times we only read about.
St.Mark's Basilica and Piazza San Marco were incredible to see. They welcome you as you step off of the water taxi and somehow we always seemed to land back there as our landmark. I had read in some blog searches that the best time to go was around sunset, since many people went back to their homes and hotels at that point. Thumbs up to that writer! (Although I must admit the birds did not flock during that time, so be aware that you're likely to be attacked by at least one)
And what would be a complete trip to Venice without a gondola ride?! I was probably too excited to go on one, and it didn't disappoint. We ended up going at night and the lights from the buildings reflected their life on each waterway as we floated through. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that all I could think about was the Italian Job and wondering if a gold heist was going on right below us. I'm going to go ahead and say yes, yes there was.
There's nothing that compares to seeing this city in person.
Just eat more gelato than you thought possible, drink a lot of water and escape the crowds by wandering on the side streets. You'll find hidden gems in delicious restaurants, old churches and a laid back life that is a stark comparison to the bustling shopping areas that tourists flock to.
We wandered into the best areas while attempting to go for a run midday, and although I almost suffered a heat stroke (that may be a slight exaggeration), we found some amazing parts of the city. Obviously, gelato was the only cure for recovery.
Venice, you're one in a million.