Text by Gabrielle. Photos by Gabrielle and Ben Blair.
[ UPDATED with a full report. ]
Here it is! A report on our trip to Venice. I’ve been promising this for months and now it’s ready to share.
Here’s the thing about Venice. It’s not like Rome. Or Florence. In Rome and Florence, there are specific things you want to see, and that you stand in line to buy tickets for — like the Colosseum, or the David. In Venice, the thing that you want to see? Is Venice. Yes, there are museums, and yes there are ruins, but if that’s what you’re looking for, pick another city. You can go island hopping, you can walk 30 minutes to visit a church, but the alley around the corner might be just as cool, or cooler.
Venice is the attraction in Venice.
You can’t take a bad photo. If you’re looking for photos opps, choose Venice. There is no bad light, there is no bad angle. It’s just photo after photo of heaven. And we tooks hundreds of photos, and I included way too many of them after the jump. (I need to beg your forgiveness in advance.)
When you’re there, it almost feels pretend. As if it’s a stereotype of Venice. As if Disney had created Venice as an amusement park for grownups, and they had staged all the texture and exposed brick — no detail too small. I had to keep reminding myself that people really live there. There are grocery stores and schools. Venice is all about texture. It’s like a city in constant decay, but the decay is beautiful, it’s what draws us in.
And if you visit over New Year’s, Venice is COLD. We bundled up like crazy. As long as it was dry, we spent the day outside and explored… But we did have one rainy day. On that day, we visited the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, then spent the rest of the day in our hotel room having a movie party — it was too cold and wet to be tourists.
As I’ve written before, traveling in the off season has worked great for us. No lines, no waiting at restaurants. But there are some disadvantages. An example in this case: the most recommended gelato shop was closed! You can even see a photo below of Maude trying the locked door. Sad face.
I’m going to write up a list of what we did, but really, just show up and walk around and take photos. Walk until you’re hungry. Then eat. Then repeat. That’s all it takes to have a grand time in Venice.
What we did:
– Spent New Year’s Eve in St. Mark’s Square. We had just arrived late that afternoon, so this was our first venture out from the hotel. Music and dancing in the square. And then fireworks over the water. A pretty spectacular first night in Venice.
– Speaking of our hotel, we stayed in quiet place in the Jewish quarter, big family-size rooms and it offered a decent breakfast. We would definitely recommend it.
– We rode the ferries, called vaporetto, every day. It’s the Venice public transportation system and it’s an amazing way to see the city. Jump on a vaporetta whenever you’re tired and enjoy the views. (And also grin when you think that they’re public transportation system is boats.)
– Took a Gondola ride. We needed two gondolas, and the photos are fun. It looks like dueling gondolas — the kids would cheer when one or the other would pull ahead.
– Visited the islands of Burano (with colorful buildings), and Murano (famed for it’s colored glass). Also, a nearby island that’s a cemetery. All 3 are on the same vaporetto loop.
– Crossed the bay to visit a church (I can’t remember the name), and climbed the tower. It offers great views of the city and surrounding islands.
– Window shopped.
– Fed the pigeons on St. Mark’s Square, and visited the cathedral.
– Bought rope as a souvenir from one of the many sailing gear and boat shops. Maude plans to make it into a nautical bracelet.
– Walked a ton. Ate lots of gelato (even in the cold!). Ate lots of pasta.
It really was an amazing trip. The sort of trip where you show up feeling depleted and can feel your soul filling right up to the brim. It’s so dang beautiful. If you’ve been I hope it was beautiful for you, too. And if you haven’t been, put it on your list. Venice is a jewel.
P.S. — The title is true: no one fell in! I was most concerned about Oscar and Betty, because they can get distracted when they’re chatting and walking at the same time, but we paired little kids with big kids and it worked out great. It is a funny thing — we were on boats every day, sometimes on open water, and we didn’t see a life-jacket the entire time. It’s a different world.