I’ve seen pictures. I’ve imagined in my head what it would look like. I’ve been on a gondola ride in the Las Vegas replica at the Venetian Hotel and I’ve ignored the haters that told me ‘one day is enough, it smells’ and so on… I just knew Venice and I were going to hit it off from the start, and we did, it was love at first sight, oh the romance!….
Waterboat ticket in hand, I hopped aboard Vaporetto number 1 and off we went along the Grand Canal of Venice, in what I hoped was the right direction to my hotel. I have to admit, Venice had me a tad nervous with it’s tiny maze of streets, that I just might never make it to my hotel, so I tried not to think about that, and I refused to let some of the unbelievably rude locals get to me, and instead I marvelled at the sights surrounding me, in awe, and felt my heart swell in a way that doesn’t often happen on my travels.
After 30 minutes, Santa Maria del Giglio – my stop, approached and I made my way through the tiny alleyway, consulted the map and in 2 minutes flat I had arrived at my hotel’s reception. Oh my hotel, you were so pretty, and cool, and boutique, with good looking receptionists who laughed at my every joke and were infected by my extremely hyperactive mood. On vacation, I try my best to mix up the accommodation, treating myself to somewhere plush, and then making up for it by extremely downgrading to a backpackers, each accommodation type has it’s own advantages. But I was so pleased to call Ad Place home for a few days. My room wasn’t large, but it was lovely, with complimentary hotel slippers, which always screams ‘GREAT HOTEL’ to me. Everything about this place was decorated to uber cool perfection, and I can’t recommend this hotel enough.
This city deserves some effort from it’s tourists, so I ‘girl’ified myself with a dress and some wavy hair, and stepped out to explore the area that looks like a movie set every which way you turn. My head still can’t get around the fact that a place as magical as this exists.
San Marco Square, Rialto Bridge and markets, to a cheeky gondolier named Alessandro – “you know, like Lady Gaga Ale Ale ssandro Ale Ale ssandro” he explained – the tourist spots of Venice are so easy to cover in a short space of time. But one of my specialities is walking off the beaten track, not always planned, and not always convenient if you suffer the unfortunate fate of a 90 year old’s bladder, as I very unfortunately do, note to self – never be further than 5 minutes away from a public toilet!
More wandering, people watching and photo snapping, I head back to my hotel to beautify myself for dinner, a date for one, but I’m quite good company so that’s okay. More ‘girl’ifying, more hair curling, some self timer shots on the little bridge outside my hotel, and I set off for my solo dinner near San Marco Square. ‘Ciao, you speak English? We have a wonderful menu. You want pizza? pasta?….’ and so the spiel repeated itself at every restaurant who’s menu I stopped to scan. I kept it together this evening, I ignored the temptations and stuck with grilled chicken and vegetables, I knew there was some self control deep down inside!
That new found self control slightly slipped the next morning at breakfast, it was the most beautiful buffet, various fruit salads served in separate glass jars, eggs, sliced watermelon, yoghurts, the usual, but why oh why do they insist on serving cake so early in the morning. It’s just cruel! So I had a tiny slice, felt guilty for 30 seconds, and swiftly moved on with my day.
My new topshop dress on, I was ready to take on Venice again, and started my dawdling through the streets, not heading in any set direction, and just happy to discover things as I went. My knack of going where no tourist goes soon kicked in, and I found myself who know’s where, down tiny alleys, lost in the Venice maze, with a distinct feeling that any minute I’d turn a corner, spot ‘The Goblin City’ sign and find David Bowie doing weird things with crystal balls in front of my eyes. I still have no idea where on earth I’d wandered to, but eventually, like two hours later, I spotted a San Marco Square sign and made my way back to civilisation, and decided that it was time to treat myself. I realise that 10 euro’s for a tiny cup of cioccolata calda is a little steep, but this is tourist central, and it was served on a lovely tray with biscuits by a waitor who looked like he’d stepped off the set of the Love Boat in his wonderful white blazer. Chocolate happiness engulfed me, and it was worth every bit of those 10 euro’s.
Dinner that evening was substantially less classy, despite putting in my best effort outfitwise, I ended up with two slices of pizza and the company of CNN in my hotel room. Living on the edge I tell you.
Back to the breakfast table on my final day, more fruit salad in cute little jars, more cake, more guilt, and swiftly moving on again. I decided to be T for tourist and take my SLR on Vaporetto number 1 up and down the Grand Canal to happy snap away. Every which way you turn there is something to gasp at, something to admire and something to fall in love with. I lost count of the number of gondoliers I saw navigating tourists through the waterways, but that image never lost it’s appeal once.
A final walk through San Marco Square, and a promise that I would return with Brad Pitt ;P – that city is much too romantic to be enjoying it alone – I reluctantly collected my bags, took my last trip back down the Grand Canal, and I was on the move again, goodbye Venezia, look out Florence, I’m coming to get ya.