Travel to Venice, Italy
In June my partner and I went on a trip to Venice. It was the first time either of us had been on a plane, and the first time we had been abroad in a while, so it was an exciting journey filled with new experiences. We wandered through all the tourist sites as well as the outskirts, wanting to see all the different atmospheres and environments. Some of the photos shown in this post were taken by my partner, Seb, who is a photographer and filmmaker. You can check out his work on Instagram @sebxcoxfilms.
The plane journey was new and was a little daunting. It took some time to figure out the winding paths through Gatwick and wait to board, but once we were on the plane, we found it really fun. My favourite part was looking down as we soared over the cloudy mountain peaks of the Alps.
The sight as you arrive into Venice is incredible. Bright sunlight shimmering on the surface of the canals, vivid blue-green water, buildings peeling with paint in every tone, from lemon yellow to blush pink and terracotta.
I grew up by the ocean and I'm a big lover of water and the sea, and it was lovely being surrounded by the canals. Everyone in Venice travels by boat, with water taxis, water buses, speedboats and gondolas as the only source of transport throughout the city. It was strange not seeing any cars, but also quite peaceful. The canals are connected by bridges that can make finding your way around difficult, but luckily, Venice is so small you can easily walk from one side to the other, so getting lost or not being able to use a car is never a problem.
The shops are mostly designed for tourists, offering classic souvenirs and slices of Venetian culture. The mask shops are beautiful, with classic paper mâché masquerade styles as well as more modern takes, with fantasy and steampunk alternatives added to the mix.
I really love the Venetian glass; Venice and the surrounding islands, Murano and Burano, are renowned for glass-blowing. They use a technique called Murrine, which involves layering coloured liquid glass and stretching it into canes. The canes are sliced, revealing their layered patterns or "millefiori", which looks like of lots of tiny flower flowers (mille meaning thousand and fiori meaning flowers). I couldn’t not bring home a collection of Murano glass necklaces and bracelets in blue, turquoise and pink.
The food was great, and even for me as a vegetarian, there was a pretty good selection of options. Pizza is available on almost every street for an average price of about €12.00, along with pasta, risotto, fresh fruit and smoothies, and ice cream. The menu is essentially the same everywhere you go, so choose a restaurant that is good value for money or has nice scenery; there are some beautiful spots along the side of the canals. The best ice cream I found was in the Piazza San Marco - I recommend the coconut and banana.
Art and history are everywhere you go. Venice has a sense of age and history, a feeling that not much has changed since the Renaissance. Murals, statues and religious iconography are everywhere, outside homes, on street walls and in the parks. We even found a local supermarket with huge heavenly murals sprawled across the ceiling.
We loved the San Marco Piazza, which is one of the most iconic areas of Venice. I recommend a trip to see the stunning views from the San Marco Campanile, and a look inside Saint Mark's Basilica.
Outside the tourist hubs, Venice is surprisingly quiet. In some areas we went for a long time without seeing anyone. Everything was very beautiful, peeling paint layered in perfect tones, buildings accented with colourful shutters and flower filled window boxes. At the same time, there was sometimes a sense of deterioration, with a lot of crumbling exteriors and buildings left empty.
We stayed in the Hotel Ai Mori D'Oriente, a beautiful 4 star hotel that I would absolutely recommend. It sits beside the Rio della Sensa in the Cannaregia quarter, and is perfectly located with short walks to wherever you want to go. Our longest walk was to the San Marco Piazza, which took us about an hour, but that was only because it took us so long to walk anywhere; there was so much to see and we were constantly stopping to capture everything on camera.
The hotel sits right by the Madonna dell'Orto, one of the stops for the 'vaportti', the word for waterbus. The design is inspired by Venice's history of trading with the Moorish people from the silk road period, and 'Moors of the Orient' is the overall theme. Moroccan tones are combined with Venetian brocades, moresque furniture and marbled bathrooms. The staff were so lovely and friendly and the continental breakfast was spot on, complete with fresh fruit, pastry, cake, salad, cheese, and strong, delicious cups of Italian coffee.
I recommend spending at least two full days in Venice. It isn't big, but there are so many beautiful sights, and alongside the tourist attractions it's nice to take it easy, sit in the restaurants, and enjoy the live music.
This post contains my personal opinions and is in no way affiliated or endorsed.