I actually just missed it by a couple of hours. I left Venice Saturday morning and their wedding was Saturday night. I’m kind of glad though, because that also meant that I got to avoid the hoards of tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the happy couple (even though I probably would have been one of them, had I been there).
But back to my life – the boring life of a mere, non-celebrity nobody. Oh, but it did happen to be my birthday that day (which birthday it was, I’ll leave up to your imagination) I figured the George Clooney thing would be a better lede than my xxth birthday would have been.
If you’re planning to take the train from Rome to Venice, it’s about a 3.5 hour ride. Yes, you read that correctly – 3.5 hours. That could have summed up to a pretty awesome nap if my seat had not been in the same vicinity as a toddler with the terrible twos.
Once we got there, everything was pretty confusing. We had one friend with us who had access to data on her cell phone to use Google maps, but that wasn’t too helpful. We couldn’t find anyone manning the ticket counter for the vaporetto (here is an EXTREMELY useful site where you can find more info on the city’s boat system), or the water taxi stands (which I’m sure would have costed a boatload of Euros, pun intended). So we ended up walking to our hotel. What was supposed to be a half an hour walk, turned into an hour (+) walk. It can get that way when you’re lugging 70 pounds of luggage over very small, but very hellish bridges. I almost felt bad because I had become one of those tourists. One of those tourists that I had always hated back in NYC. One of those tourists who would stop in the middle of the road to take a break and/or picture (though I can assure you, I was way too busy wrestling with my suitcase to be taking any photos). One of those tourists who seemed to be oblivious of everyone else around them trying to get on with their lives. But at the same time, I didn’t care. Like I said – I was dragging about 70 pounds of luggage up and down some cobblestoned roads that seemed like they had some sort of vendetta against me.
Finally, an hour later (an hour behind schedule), we were settled in and ready to begin exploring Venice.
Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what I got to see.
Rialto Bridge – this is the oldest bridge across the canal. It also gives you one helluva view of the Grand Canal. Just off the bridge, you’ll find tons of shops selling souvenirs, jewelry, fine glass, etc. – comparable to the San Lorenzo markets in Florence (LINK). Don’t be too quick to buy a certain item. Make sure you shop around because chances are, you’ll find a stall a few steps away with the same product for a cheaper price. Can’t hurt to try haggling – if you don’t ask, the answer is always no!
Rialto Food Market – sells all sorts of fresh produce and local seafood. Open from 7:30 a.m. til 1 p.m. I wasn’t shopping for anything but I just wanted to check out the different types of sea creatures that inhabited Venice.
Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) – the main square of Venice. You can’t miss it.
Torre dell’Orologio (St. Mark’s Clock Tower) – it’s not just for telling time. If you purchase tickets in advance, you can actually get a tour and go all the way up to the top. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and was very unique to the city.
Basilica di San Marco – the most well-known church of Venice. It’s free to go inside but there is a LONG line. In order to skip the line, you can reserve online for your desired time slot for 2 Euros. I reserved but unfortunately, did not get to use my ticket since I was an hour behind schedule, due to the lovely (read annoyingly difficult to navigate) streets and bridges of Venice.
Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) – this used to be home to the Doge of Venice. Your ticket price of 16.50 (which you can reserve online ahead of time) includes access to not only this museum, but all of the St. Mark’s Square Museums as well. This also includes the Correr Museum, the Archeological Museum, and the Biblioteca Marciana.. Since I only had one day in Venice, the only museum out of the four I had time to visit was the Doge’s Palace. I don’t know if it was because it was one of my last days in Italy, and I had already seen many similar museums prior to this. So maybe I’m biased, but your time would be better spent outside of the palace, snapping a few pictures.
Teatro La Fenice – translates to ‘the Phoenix’, it’s a famous opera house where notable composers have performed.