Saturday, May 25, 2013

Venice


Without a doubt my favourite place visited from the whole tour, Venice took my breath away.
I visited it twice, once before my Contiki Europe trip on a little weekend getaway and then again a few weeks later with my Contiki family. 
I could not wait to get back to it!
Everything about Venice screams 'Home' to me.

I arrived in Venice, The Floating City, by boat. It was the same kind of boat used in the movie, The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. 



Venice is majestic. Everything is ancient, crumbling, falling apart, different coloured houses from red to off-white houses, orange houses and yellow, each with the tiniest little balconies overlooking the water and dark shutters for the windows. All the paint is chipped and old, with no signs of restoration about to take place and somehow, that is what makes it quite so beautiful. Somehow they have managed to keep Venice looking like one of the most spectacular places on Earth. 




The water shines the most gorgeous aqua green-blue as you cut through it in your Gondola or boat, colors you see on photographs and think it was photoshopped. It was just stunning. 



I stayed in an ivy covered hotel called, Hotel Flora. The most gorgeous set-up I have ever experienced. While walking through the dainty little alleyways, this building caught my eye and I could not hide my awe. Little did I know that it was where we had booked online to stay!!! There is a little garden terrace where you can have your breakfast in the mornings and even there it is adorned with greenery and beauty beyond what I could have imagined. You can sit out at tiny little white round tables and chairs and enjoy your morning coffee and pastries while watching the birds swoop around you, waiting for someone to drop a crumb of bread onto the ground for them. 





Going to Italy had been my dream for years and I had a very vivid imagination of exactly how it was going to be when I got there. 
I had a vision that I would have a heavy rucksack slung across my back, tired feet and I’d follow the alluring smells of cooking food to an open bistro, sit down and indulge in wine, pasta and gelato for the afternoon while the sun dipped behind the bridges.
Well, I played a coin game where Heads was left and Tails was right… and I tossed the coin for every corner I went down in Venice, getting hopelessly lost (thank God for iPhone!!) until I eventually found my way to the most idyllic bistro possible. 
It was in the heart of Venice, hidden in a maze of alleyways and bridges, nowhere close to the more touristy spots right by the water’s edge - and that was one of the things that was so great about it!
It was situated in a grungy, coral coloured building. The paint was chipped away and opposite the building was a little sign reading, ‘Campiello S. Zulian,’. 
Beneath the green and white shading were little wooden tables covered in red checker table clothes and yellow napkins.
It was here that I discovered the most incredible pasta imaginable. I don’t know how something so simple can be so good, but it is called Spaghetti Alio Olio Peperoncino and it is literally spaghetti, garlic, chilli and olive oil. Shave some Parmesan over the top and voila. 
I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E!!! 




Both times that I was in Venice I was blessed with the most perfect weather and so naturally I indulged in cups full of mouth-watering gelato every day. That was another dream of mine, to have real Italian ice cream; and it did not disappoint. 

Venice is absolutely covered in souvenir stores holding some of the most incredible Venetian masks I have ever seen. I learnt some really interesting facts about the masks and what each one symbolizes.


Whilst on my Contiki tour, I didn’t stay in such glamorous locations however. I camped.  
The ground in Venice was really slushy where we camped and I was one of two girls that braved the football pitch with the group of guys on tour with us. 
We were split into groups and had such good fun slipping around in the sludge and mud – it was here that one of the guys on tour, Fin, broke my toe. 
I stupidly decided to play the game without shoes and had this idea that I was the best tackler possible, but I think I got slightly too cocky and confidant and ended up walking away with a broken toe. But Fin became such a good friend to me throughout the course of the tour that all was forgiven and forgotten. When he saved my life later on in the tour, that was when I stopped giving him a hard time about it, to some degree ;) 
- but that is another story, to be told in another post about passing through Austria and going white water rafting. 

Other things I did while in Venice was go to this absolutely fascinating glass expo where we watched this traditional Venetian man make a beautiful glass horse statue in about two minutes flat, from nothing more than a RED HOT clump of glass! 
We did this in Venice as Venice is famous for its glass making - more so than any other place around Italy. 
The glass making factory we visited was situated just down an alleyway off of St. Mark's Square, so if you ever get a chance to get there just ask a local where it is and they will point you in the right direction! 

As I had been to Venice already and the Contiki group were all feeling slightly knackered from our continuous drinking sessions night in and night out.. we spent our day in Venice in this gorgeous little park with a few bottles of Prosecco. 
We lazed out in the sun, toasting to good times and bonding while catching some rays. It was such a wonderfully relaxed time.





I also finally rode a Gondola! Something that has been on my list of things to do since I can possibly remember. 
It wasn't exactly romantic - I was on a boat with five other guys from my Contiki group but they were such fun! We opened two bottles of Torre and played Mozart from YouTube on my iPhone until our Gondola 'driver' started singing for us! What a show. 
We stumbled off of the gondola half an hour later feeling extremely merry before heading back to the campsite, swarming with the most ginormous mosquito's I have ever seen! 



I could talk to you about Venice all day long. It holds such a special place in my heart now... I actually fear I left a large chunk of my heart back there. 

It is such a happy, vibrant place. The locals are incredibly helpful and welcoming. The pasta is to die for. The smells are amazing, besides walking down some of the alleyways that reek of fish and sewage but in a way that only adds to the effect of the place!! It didn't bother me in the slightest. In fact, it only made me like it even more. 

I would move there tomorrow - if you have not been, please do yourself a favor and book a ticket today!! 


Next up... Paris. 


5 comments:

  1. Really want to go to Venice and after this I want to go even more!!

    Christina xx
    http://christinathorup.com/

    ReplyDelete
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  3. Your travels make me dream... That little restaurant is just so dear! And how magically beautiful those crawling vines are! It all just looks breathtaking.

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  4. I traveled to Venice two summers ago and adored it, as well! I thought the restaraunt you mentioned was one I ate at, so I went back to old photos to check. It wasn't...but sounded so similar! My new blog only has adventures in motherhood. www.handandtheheart.com :)

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  5. Venice is going to be the first stop on our trip this spring, and Prosseco in the park sounds like freaking heaven to me. This post got me really excited for my trip... now I'm going to read the rest of your Italian adventure posts.

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Jade