Venice is magical. This is our third visit to Italy, and on past trips I have found it frustrating, hot, and expensive. We are constantly shaking our heads and muttering Freaking Italy! as we deal with a nonsense processes, late transit, or poorly marked everything. My research told me that Venice would be like a black hole where all of the irritating, overpriced parts of Italy are compressed into a tiny island crowded with millions of fellow tourists. The severe density of exasperating qualities and absurd laws would suck out all the light and crush us. David Calfee, that metaphor was for you.
With these expectations we doubled our daily budget to $200 and braced ourselves to spend 26 hours in the most painted city in the world (citation: vague memory of museum walls).
We left Denmark in the evening with a layover in Stuttgart, Germany from 10pm to 6am. To save money for Venice, we slept in the airport. We tried to sleep in our departure terminal, but we were escorted out by the police. They were really friendly about it though, and they recommended a quiet terminal where we could sleep until our terminal reopened the following morning. I got a few hours of sleep, and we were both a bit loopy the next morning as we arrived in Venice. I had a list of sights and activities for us, and the first was a breakfast of coffee and croissant. The cafes are very tiny, so the Italian style is to eat and drink standing at an 8-inch wide bar that runs along a wall of the shop. After Scandinavia, the prices here seemed pretty reasonable.
Our hostel let us check in early so we could nap and shower and restart our day. Next stop: lunch and wine at a canal-side cafe.We ate outside in the sunshine and enjoyed the warmth of early spring. Venice wasn’t driving us crazy, it was pampering us with perfect weather, good light for photography and minimal crowds.
Next stop was Piazza di San Marco with Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. It should have been a twenty minute walk, but the buildings are tall and some streets are only a bit wider than my shoulders so the angles prevented me from navigating by landmark. We crossed dozens of bridges and marveled at the picturesque scenery as we tried to find our way.
Gondoleers serenaded their passengers and boats delivered supplies around the islands. When we got within 500 meters of San Marco, signs scribbled along the walls guided us through the final set of passages. The basilica is spectacular–top 5. Italians know how to build great churches.
We took a boat ride at sunset along the Grand Canal to finish our perfect day in the city of Venice.