Day one in Venice certainly was eventful! My first stop was the transportation desk at the Marco Polo airport to purchase my Alilaguna ticket. It would be my transportation from the airport to Venice and back. I also purchased an ACTV Vaporetto week pass which would allow me to travel all around Venice and the neighboring islands. The man at the desk who helped me was very nice and shared the same name as my father. He kindly gave me walking directions to the boat, and told me which stop was closest to my hotel. Once aboard the boat I made myself comfortable because I had a good hour long ride to my destination. Fortunately, there were plenty of sights to see during the trip.
The fun began when I arrived at my stop. I naively told myself that if I followed the map and read the street names on the buildings I would be able to successfully find my hotel. I mean, how hard is it to read a map? I began walking, rolling my suitcase behind me, in what I had perceived to be the right direction. Within 5 minutes I quickly discovered that this walk was not going to be as simple as I had anticipated. For one, Venice had plenty of bridges. I lost count of the amount of times I had to pick up my suitcase and carry it up the steps of a bridge. After about 15 minutes, when it became evident that I could not find my hotel using a map, I finally had to ask for help. It turned out that I had been going in the wrong direction. The first lady I asked for directions, kindly told me to go back in the direction I came and to go over two more bridges (yippee) until I hit a big square where I would then need to ask for directions. This pattern continued for quite some time until I finally found the main square that my hotel was located in. It would take me another 10 minutes of walking around the square until I found the building which was located in one of the many hidden walkways that I had unknowingly passed. I could already tell that my stay here in Venice was going to be an adventure to say the least.
Once I was settled in my hotel, the Ca’Bragadin Carabba, I was determined to see as much as humanly possible before the sun went down. I figured I would start with Piazza San Marco since it is considered one of the main sights and attractions in Venice. My journey there was also a confusing one and I had to continuously ask people for directions. At one point I went in a complete circle because I passed the same man outside his shop twice! On my way, I encountered a few street hecklers (people who try to sell you products on the street like selfie sticks or purses, and don't understand the word no). After a few exasperating exchanges I decided to start replying in Russian. Not understanding what I was saying, they quickly lost interest in me and moved on to other tourists (thank you Russian teammates for teaching me 'no,' 'thank you,' and 'goodbye!')
When I eventually reached Piazza San Marco, the Basilica immediately drew my attention, followed by the bell tower and the Biblioteca Masciana. There were an incredible amount of tourists in the area and at one point I was just stood in one spot soaking in my surroundings. One aspect that I absolutely loved was the detail in the architecture. It still amazes me how they were able to create such beautiful, detailed and massive buildings in the past without the technology we have today. The buildings alone were works of art! Wanting to capture every moment of just being there, I began taking pictures with my iPhone. While snapping away I noticed that there were people on top of the Basilica taking photos; so I decided that I was going to do that too. I went inside, and toured the building first, taking in all the art and beauty. Afterwards, I climbed the stairs (there was no elevator) and paid 5 euros to go on the roof to take photos. The fee also granted me access to the museum located on the top level of the building. While up there, I saw a young boy with his grandmother who was continuously being asked by strangers to take photos for them. When he was finally free, I offered to take a photo for them. It turned out that they were French, so I was able to put my French to practice with our short conversation.
Following the Piazza San Marco, I boarded the vaporetto and got off a few stop later at l’Academia. I tried to enter the museum there, but it was closed for the evening so I decided to just go for a walk. During my walk, I bought delicious strawberries and blackberries from a street vendor. This was a special treat since back in Russia the ruble isn't doing too well (it costs about $10.00 for a case of strawberries). Having the ability to buy strawberries at a reasonable price was an opportunity I couldn't turn down! I continued walking until I made my way to Ca’Rezzonico, where there was a Leonardo Davinci exhibit set up. The exhibit consisted of interactive machines reproduced from his codices, however I didn't want to pay the 8 euro fee to get in, so I settled for a brochure. As the sun faded away, the temperature began to drop. I made my way to a little cafe that had caught my eye where I ordered a hot chocolate and a double chocolate muffin to warm me up as I continued my impromptu foot tour.
After hours of walking around, I had built up quite the appetite. I took the short trip on the vaporetto back to Piaza San Marco, and decided to look for somewhere to eat close to my hotel. My first meal in Venice, Italy was stuffed tortellini in mushroom sauce, and it did not disappoint! Overall, I had a wonderful first day in Venice.
Tomorrow I plan on visiting the islands, Murano, Burano and Torcello, so I have an early morning ahead of me. Check back in tomorrow evening to find out how my day goes.
Unit then, thanks for stopping by and God bless!