Monday, June 13, 2011

Venetian Wonderland - Part One

Venice has long been a destination I've wanted to set foot on simply because I'd heard so much about its beauty, romance and history. Everyone I know who's been there has come back gushing about this little city's magical charm. As we had a four day weekend in June, David and I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to discover this sinking paradise. Coincidentally, my parents and brother also planned to be in Italy at the time and we decided to have a mini reunion in Venice.

David and I took a direct train from Geneva's main station to Venice's Santa Lucia station. It was a 7 hour journey, but definitely a convenient way to get to Venice. We met my family who had just arrived from Florence and made our way together to the apartment we had booked in the Cannaregio region. The apartment was very well located and had all the amenities needed to accommodate about 4-5 people.

Once we refreshed ourselves, we set out to explore Venice. Unlike many popular tourist destinations in the world where there are actually sites and monuments to be visited, I felt Venice is more of a place you go to simply enjoy the ambience. Although the population is some 270,000 people, the majority of this is domestic and international tourists. Everywhere you turn, there is water, water and more water. The mainland of Venice is pedestrian so that was a welcome change from all the usual traffic we experience in our daily lives. Beautiful canals make up the city's unique layout, not to forget the little bridges connecting one street to another. The city is full of life with markets, pretty houses, large squares, boats and of course the famous gondoliers. It is easy to get lost because of the city is laid out like a maze but there are always clear directions to the main areas.

Here we are, exploring the Cannaregio district:

We first made our way to the famous Rialto Bridge. It was so crowded with excited tourists taking photo after photo, just like us.

The Grand Canal was glorious in the sun's evening rays and was truly romantic. It's incredible how the whole city's life revolves around water!

We walked through more narrow pathways, pausing to look at shops selling Venetian jewelry and masks and in true tourist style, posed for the camera.

We then proceeded on to the vast San Marco Square where there's the beautiful San Marco Basilica and the Doges' Palace.

Of course, we could not go to Venice without experiencing a gondola ride. It is easy to spot a gondolier with his striped black and white t-shirt and hat. A gondola ride is very expensive for what it is but because it creates the image of romance, many tourists still fork out the money for this once in a lifetime experience. The gondoliers often quote a price and are open to bargain. We paid about 80 Euros for a 35 min tour of the canals.

Again, we discovered more canals and bridges. Truly fascinating, the way the city's been designed!

We also checked out Rialto Market and tried some yummy cherries!

Finally, Venice by night! Really phenomenal as you can see from the photos!

Next up, our excursions to the islands of Murano, Burano, Lido and Torcello!



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