Most of the time I go somewhere on vacation I leave in awe, but feeling as though I’ve checked another place off my list and a desire to see new ones. Not with Venice, with Venice I felt a desire to come back, to walk the streets again with the sensation of having at long last conquered a city.
Not only was Venice beautiful but it really is a lovely, unique and quiet place to go, if you know where to go. We found this difficult the first day having arrived late at night. After dismounting our bus boat from the airport (only way to get to the island from the airport) we waited for the lady from Airbnb to show us to the apartment we would call home for the next 5 days. When she arrived she took us down a route I knew I would never be able to repeat on my own and down alleyways so small I was worried our luggage would not fit. Tired and disoriented we went to sleep knowing we would have to figure it all out in the morning.
I woke up that first morning to the sound of my neighbour and his weed wacker. Turns out the area we were staying in was inhabited by an older generation which made it quieter most of the time, other than when they woke up early to garden. Aside from that it really made it a nice place to come home to at the end of the day.
We spent that first day getting to know the main tourist area by our place, the Strada Nova and had lunch which entitled some very expensive but tasty seafood risotto. It would take us a couple days to learn the tricks to a cheap meal. But I’ll get there.
We spent the rest of the day seeing some wonderful sights Jamie knew about from his last trip and enjoyed drinks at a local Jazz bar we would revisit a couple of times over the week.
Day 2 we went to the south side of the island to Dorsoduro and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. It was incredible to see the works of art she had collected over the years. She literally had at least one piece from every major artist between 1920-60.
After the Guggenheim we had a lovely snack of 1.20 euro wine and 1 euro crostini’s at a local bar Addi heard of online. It was delicious and we were finally getting the hang of doing Venice on the cheap!
We then took a detour route coming home and stumbled upon the Armenian Biennale exhibit. The Architecture Biennale is an international architecture exhibit that takes place every two years in Venice and was Jamie’s main reason for coming. So finding one of the pavilions on the other side of the island for free was a definite treat.
The next day was a long one, we woke up early to head to St. Mark’s Campanile where we got some great photos of the sun coming up over the water. We then headed to the main exhibit for the Biennale with our packed lunches and a full 6 hours of architecture.
We saw most of the international pavilions, from Germany, Canada, Korea to Brazil each with their own display of a discussion, a review, an idea for architecture that relates to their country. The Canadian pavilion discussed the need for new infrastructure in Iqaluit to help sustain the growing population and encourage education in the Nunavut people. The Austrian exhibit which was one of my favourites had models placed on the wall of all the federal buildings around the world.
Following the Biennale we were quite tired so we watched the beautiful sunset from the South then headed back home for a good nights sleep.
The next morning we were up bright and early again to see Burano, one of my highlights of the trip. Burano is an island about a 40 minute boat ride out and is known for its bright coloured buildings. Incredibly small we literally got to see the whole island and have a drink before coming home to purchase some cheap wine in the Jewish Quarter and enjoy our last night.
For our last night we returned to our favourite local bar where the staff had actually come to know us and met a group of men from England in Venice for a bachelor party who provided some good entertainment. We then stopped by our favourite cafe for a night cap. This cafe had become a favourite thanks to the very kind owner and the 1 euro coffee and pastries making it our main breakfast stop. That night they were also offering up free crostinis!
Before we knew it, it was our last day. Jamie took us to one more beautiful exhibit of an old building that had been remodeled on the inside with a very modern finish. This was followed by my favourite meal of the trip. With a strong desire for some authentic calamari before we left we stumbled upon a restaurant filled with local construction workers that served grilled calamari. We ordered it to go and sat along the canal with all of the ingredients to make a delicious sandwich, our usual fresh baguette, deli meat, some veggies and the best calamari ever. It was the best way to finish of the trip.
I really do encourage Venice to anybody who likes to travel. Once you know the tricks, like not eating in any restaurants on a main square and researching cheap and local favourites it is easy to do on a budget. You also save on transport as you can literally walk the entire island with no need for bus, boat or gondola. Now knowing all of this I definitely hope to go back some day!