World Travels: Venice Pt. 1

Ciao amici! As I'm en route to my next destination, I wanted to take some time to share my time spent in Venice. Since I'm basically time traveling at this point, I'll try my best to provide you with the details of my trip as best I can remember.

After a nine-hour journey across the Atlantic (that of which went much faster than I expected), I landed at Ukraine International airport. I passed the time during my layover with a quick breakfast consisting of the snacks I brought with me and an extremely overpriced bottle of water. We then boarded the shuttle from our gate to our plane. A quick nap later, I found myself overlooking the sparkling lights of Venice.

The baggage claim process was stress-free and I was able to purchase a bus ticket to the Venice bus station and board my bus with ease. Venice is a mainly water-based city, but there's a portion of Venice that's land-based, which is where the airport and bus terminal reside. Our bus ride was less than 15 minutes, allowing a quick rest before the tedious amount of walking I would soon have to endure over the next two days. The bus station is pretty central to the island part of Venice - there's even a beautiful walking bridge, Ponte Della Costituzione, where travelers can cross which is close to most hotels in the main area.

I'm all about saving the most money while traveling, so naturally I've become a strong advocate for Airbnb. My host, Massimo, met me at the station to help me with my bag and escort me to his apartment. He even thought to bring me an umbrella to avoid the rain that was upon the area. Due to a miscalculation of bookings, my host informed me beforehand about this mishap and arranged for me to stay at his other booking, which was a bit further than where I planned to stay. He even purchased a 24-hour water bus ticket to make up for his mistake, as well as covered my breakfast the next morning. Honestly, after 13 hours of traveling, having anywhere to lay my head was my only objective.

I mentioned that we took the water bus, which is the main mode of public transportation through the main waterway of the Grand Canal. These large motorized boats have seating inside and out, providing a wide walkway to stand and easily move luggage, if necessary. Massimo suggested we go to the back of the bus to go outside where we could take in a view of the water and he could point out various landmarks. After arriving at our stop, a long journey of cobblestones and steps awaited us. Venice at night, with the ancient buildings looming above you and the faint howls of cats, was actually quite peaceful. Finally arriving at the apartment, Massimo showed me around his humble abode and the room where I'd stay. The room was loft style, meaning I had to climb up a ladder to get to the bed above. Massimo kindly offered me a bowl of fresh strawberries, something I hadn't known I needed until then. After a quick refresh in the washroom, my body happily slipped into a slumber.

My first full day in Venice had finally arrived! After getting dressed, it was finally time to venture to my home for the next couple days. A surprising perk from the first apartment was waking up to a true Venetian canal view:  

As we left the apartment, he showed me the community garden just outside the window as he greeted his neighbors having fresh cups of cappuccino. One of my favorite things about Airbnb is how much the hosts bring you into their worlds, introducing you to people they know and places they frequent, allowing you to feel less like a one-time guest, and more like family.

Fast forward to many steps, water taxis, and cobblestones later, we finally arrived at the apartment. It was a charming place, reminding me of the Victorian era with antique furniture and small balconies off of each room. The apartment had three rooms where other guests would be staying, as well as a bathroom and main living area we would share. The kitchen was free to use with a stove, sink, and washing machine at our disposal. Check it out here. 

I soon found myself in the main area over the Guglio bridge, simultaneously in search of an electronic adaptor, as well as venturing out into the Venetian landscape. Now that daylight graced the city, Venice was a stark contrast to the quiet I'd experienced the night before. Tourists and locals swelled the streets and filled the gondolas in the canals. At this moment, I finally felt that I'd arrived in Italy. The energy that surrounds you here differs significantly than that of other major cities.

Joining me on this day 1 adventure was Natalegé, a fellow solo traveler who I connected with through a mutual online travel group. How convenient that she would also be in the city at the same time as me! We met at a pizzeria close to where I stayed and spent the remainder of the day together. It wasn't until halfway through our day that we realized we both went to Howard! Talk about a small world.

Next, we set out for San Marco Square, a historic and overwhelmingly beautiful area in the central part of Venice. In addition to getting lost in Venice's beauty around every corner, we stopped along the way for some cool treats and great photo ops. Many alleyways and street corridors later, our view opened up to a giant view of the Basilica de San Marco. Like I mentioned earlier, the beauty of San Marco Square is undeniable. In addition to the basilica, the square included a large tower that allowed visitors to venture to its top, as well as a large white marble building that surrounded three sides of the square.

With my fellow Bison in San Marco Square

With my fellow Bison in San Marco Square

Our nearly two-hour adventure, naturally, worked up an appetite. Having passed many delicious-smelling restaurants on our way to the square, we stumbled upon Al Chianti, a quaint spot offering three-course meals for $16. The Merlot was also an affordable option after splitting a bottle. I opted for a simple spaghetti with meat sauce, followed by grilled chicken and a salad. 

We then headed back to our starting point, exploring the different areas and beauty of the Rialto neighborhoods as the sun set. We found another quiet neighborhood restaurant with outside seating and had orange spritz beverages along with a basket of fresh chips. This gave us plenty of time to rest before setting out for a top recommendation for nightlife in Venice, the Campo Santa Margherita, a square filled with bars, restaurants, and lots of young travelers. It was nice to find an area where people were out enjoying their friends without the harshness of bright strobe lights and loud music.

Overall, my first day was an amazing introduction to the beautiful city of Venice and I'm very grateful to have had a fellow Bison join me on this adventure.

Check out a few of the many shots from my first day below. 

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