Thursday, 23 June 2016

Exploring Venice

You haven't truly explored Venice until you get lost there.

It's a pedestrian-only city, so the only modes of transport are either by foot or by boat. And by foot, expect to walk down countless identical alleys and come face to face with dead-ends half of the time. You just have to embrace not knowing exactly where you are and have faith that one of the alleys will eventually lead to somewhere you recognise.

My advice? Ditch Google Maps and go back to good old-fashioned paper maps. Yes, you may as well have a flashing sign above your head saying "tourist", but you'll thank me when you don't suffer from the ever-changing direction of the blue dot.

Following the thunderstorm the night before, we woke up feeling a little groggy from our late night and not-so-comfortable budget beds, but, thankfully, to only a little drizzle. After stocking up on bottled water (every square has a running tap of drinkable water, but we stuck to bottled just to be on the safe side) and food, we set out to explore. Today's itinerary? The Venetian churches.
Being an ancient Catholic city, there are breath-taking churches and cathedrals around every corner in Venice. The architecture is what makes Venice so special, with Gothic buildings so intricately detailed it's difficult to comprehend how they were made with just hand and chisel. You don't need to be religious to appreciate the beauty of these buildings.

It's important to note that the majority of the churches are very strict with their regulations, with the most notable being no photography inside and appropriate clothing (i.e. shoulders and knees covered). A bit uncomfortable in a very warm and humid environment, but you should be respectful when you're in a foreign country and abide by their rules. Don't be the ignorant tourist who ignores all signs.

If you don't fancy going inside the buildings though, the outside is just as impressive. Take the Santa Maria del Giglio, for example...
Or how about the beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute? A quieter, less touristy alternative to the famous Saint Mark's Basilica, but just as breath-taking, particularly when combined with the sounds of a busker playing classical music on his cello nearby.

Keep walking down the path past the Basilica to the tip of the Punta della Dogana. The perfect place to sit and watch the world go by away from the crowds.
Be sure to have a quick stop for a drink in one of the squares as the sun begins to shine.
Or perhaps take a seat on the steps outside of the Chiesa di San Stae. Be prepared to be caught in multiple photos as water buses float by on the Grand Canal.
And sometimes reaching a dead-end isn't all bad...

It's near impossible to pass over one of the main bridges without taking a photo of the view, no matter how many times you've already crossed it. It's also incredibly easy to take the most cliche photo in Venice.
Dinner time! We chose a quaint little restaurant tucked away down a quiet side street, with outdoor seating looking onto the canal.
You can't go to Venice without trying the local specialities! A glass of Aperol Spritz (unfortunately a bit too tonic-y for my taste) alongside a delicious plate of spaghetti vongole with mussels and clams.   
Stomachs full and feet aching, we headed back to the apartment, sleepy from the day's exploring. Even the most uncomfortable budget bed will feel welcoming after all that walking!
Love, Beth xxx

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