Ah, Venezia! The beautiful, unique Venice is a city that cannot be missed. The Floating City was one of those places that I’d always dreamed of visiting and couldn’t miss on my Grand Contiki Tour.
After our time in the French Riviera we headed onward to Italy and the city of Venice. On the way
to the city we stopped in the city of Verona, the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Verona is a small city with a Roman arena in the centre. One of the highlights was Juliet’s Balcony. You walk down some small side streets and through a narrow graffiti’d corridor and emerge into a small courtyard with a single small balcony and a statue of Juliet. The graffiti is love notes believed to make a couple’s love everlasting and touching the right breast of the statue gives you luck in love.
After our detour to Verona we were on our way again to Venice. We had two nights in Venice but stayed outside of the main city – which means we saved on money but sacrificed some time in Venice itself. This all meant that we only had one full day in Venice.
The next morning we left our campground and made our way to the boat to take us into Venice. I have to say that this was one of the best possible ways I could imagine to first view this historic city. We disembarked our boat and stepped foot onto the Floating City. We entered right near the Piazzo San Marco which features the amazing St. Mark’s Campanile and Basilica. I chose not to enter the Basilica as the line was incredibly long and I didn’t want to spend part of my short time in Venice standing in line. In retrospect I wish I’d seen the inside of this gorgeous church but I still wouldn’t have wanted to waste my time in line.
The first thing we did upon entering the city was one of those included excursions on the tour – a glass blowing demonstration. This was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen, the talent that goes into blowing glass is unbelievable… I couldn’t even imagine doing something so talented. Venice, of course, is known for its Murano Glass and I of course had to pick some up – a pair of tiny Murano Glass earrings… along with some Venetian lace from the next place we stopped on our day in Venice – a little shop that still hand makes all its lace. These are both some of my favorite souvenirs from my trip to Europe.
On our way to Venice our tour guide had told us that the best way to see Venice is to simply start walking through the streets and get lost. So that’s what we did.
We wandered through the city, found our first authentic Italian restaurant and I had my first authentic Italian lasagna and I bought a Venetian mask that now proudly hangs on my wall. I realized how amazing a city which doesn’t allow cars is as a tourist.
At the end of our day we went on our obligatory gondola ride through the canals of Venice. We had a gondolier who, while he didn’t sing, whistled the entire time. It was the kind of experience that you dream about when deciding to travel.