Our first train ride in Italy took us from Milan to Venice. Milano to Venezia. Venezia! So much fun to say. Ven-EZ-ia!! VENEZIAAA!!!
It has been years, perhaps almost decades since I rode a train in Europe. Back then I just followed someone around, no inclination to pay any attention. Thankfully, the train stations in Italy were much less intimidating than the idea I had formed in my mind. Quite easy to navigate and the trains were rather comfortable (most of them).
We arrived in Venice around mid-day, in the area with cars and other forms of land transportation. From there, it was all water. Water buses. Water taxis. Water cars. Water police cruisers. Water water everywhere and Venice is super weird. Beautiful! But weird. Stunning! But weird. Awe-inspiring! But so! Weird!
Some parts of Venice are sitting on wood over 1000 years old. LivItaly describes the structure of Venice better than I,
“When the new settlers arrived on the islands around 402 A.D., they were faced with the need for more space and a stronger foundation to live on. They had to find ways to strengthen the islands, drain them, enlarge them and protect the fragile environment. So, they dug hundreds of canals and shored up the banks with wood pilings. They also used similar wood pilings as foundations for their buildings. The settlers pounded thousands of wooden piles into the mud, so close together that they were touching. Then, they cut off the tops and created solid platforms for the foundations of their homes. Because the wood was underwater, it didn’t rot.”
It blows my MIND that a place like this exists. On planet Earth, there is a place that exists by floating atop pieces on wood. Can you EVEN IMAGINE?! So weird.
After disembarking our very lovely and non-confusing train, we then had to find our water bus. This was certainly not as organised at the train station. I think we got on and off multiple water buses until we finally settled in and took the scenic route to our hostel.
Generator Hostel in Venice is located on the island of Guidecca. The location is not in the most popular area of Venice, allowing us to save some money on accommodation. We stayed in a shared dorm, with sixteen other females. One shower. One toilet.
Take a moment for that to sink in.
Nevertheless, we made it work. The bunk beds are comfortable, each equipped with lights, outlets and a lockable storage box underneath. Also included in our room were two other lovely Canadian gals, best friends travelling together. Lindsay and I immediately recognized their Canadian-ness when they arrived to the dorm and apologized for unpacking. As any decent Canadian would do.
With our day of arrival almost over, we had supper at a small cafe near the hostel and a relaxing evening in the lounge, around the fireplace, chatting with a few fellow hostelers. The next day we ventured in to Venice proper.
We enjoyed coffee and breakfast at the hostel, then hopped on the water bus to Venice. We arrived at the port located by the San Marco Piazza. Lots of souvenirs stalls were set up to pull in the tourists coming off the water buses. I have one regret, and that regret is not purchasing a pair of these David boxers as soon as I saw them. One thing I’ve learned from my travels is that if you see something you like, just buy it. Don’t assume it will be available later on; just buy it and carry it and move on.
We managed to peel ourselves away from the tourist traps and wander through the streets of Venice. No plans and no particular direction in mind, we simply enjoyed all the nooks, crannies, doors and bridges throughout Venice. So many bridges. Thinking about how this city is made of all these tiny islands, all connected by bridges of various shapes and sizes… it’s just…so weird.
We browsed lots of shops selling Venetian blown glass and Venetian leather goods. In and out of these little streets, through the San Marco Piazza where we admired the architecture, back into the side streets and so on. Oh and I rolled my ankle like an hour into the day. It hurt, but I survived. Lindsay caught on very quickly that gelato makes me feel better. Naturally, gelato was had.
We also searched far and wide for the Ponte di Rialto (the Rialto Bridge). It’s a well-known landmark in Venice and of course we could not leave without visiting it ourselves. To be fair, neither Lindsay nor I have a particularly refined sense of direction. We looked for street signs, we found streets signs and we still struggled to find this darn ponte. Was it us or was it because Venice is so weird? Who knows?! The important thing is that we did, eventually, find the Ponte di Rialto. Needless to say, it was worth the effort.
After the long hunt for Railto, we felt a bit hungry and stopped at a canal-side restaurant for a bite to eat. Weird as it is, and even with all the tourists and tourism based businesses and the overwhelming number of gondolas on the canal, Venice still manages to maintain some of it’s romance. I could not have been more pleased to share a romantic lunch in Venice with my best gal.
We wanted to give ourselves a proper Venetian experience, but since we are cheap, we had to do some research on how to make this happen. An overpriced gondola ride was definitely out of the question. Thankfully, we came across a suggestion online to instead hop aboard a Traghetto.
Traghetto. “Ghetto” being the operative word here. Oh sure, we got the picture and we look cute as heck. This is the perfect example of how a photo on social media does not tell the real story. We tracked down the Traghetto stop and waited for our ride to pull up. There was our gondolier, stripped shirt and paddle in hand. We paid our 2 Euro to board and off we went! A beautiful 90-second journey to the exact opposite side of the very narrow section of canal.
Let me break that down for you…
30 seconds of excitement to finally be on a gondola with a gondolier in a stripped shirt and admiring the view from said gondola
+ 30 seconds to clue in that this ride might not be very long and asking each other “Are we just going to the other side of the canal?”
+ 30 seconds to panic and take the photo. The “we were on a gondola in Venice” photo and look we have the proof and oh wasn’t it so lovely and romantic!
= 90-seconds on a Traghetto.
Venice is so weird.
Being so consumed with the Traghetto “experience”, we missed the last water bus to Burano. No matter, we shopped for artwork in San Marco Piazza along the waterfront, stopped for photo ops and enjoyed a Spritz and snacks as the sun went down.