I'm the type of traveler who can visit a location for only a day or two, and still be able to get the most out of my trip - I call these "Flash Visits." This week, I got to visit Europe for the first time, as I was going on a cruise to the Greek Islands. I flew into Venice, Italy and was able to spend a day there before the cruise, and then a day after I disembarked the ship. I was able to squeeze most of what I wanted to accomplish into that two-day period.
On Day 1, after checking in to my hostel, located at the Zitelle stop on the water taxi route, I quickly hopped back on the water taxi and headed over two stops to San Marco (Note: Venice is totally surrounded by water, so you will be getting to most places by water, or by walking over the many bridges). I would imagine that San Marco is equivalent to New York City's Times Square. It's heavily populated with tourists, shops, restaurants and vendors. Since I had dropped off my bags in my room, I had no problem navigating through the huge crowds. I'm pretty use to it, as I do it every morning in NYC while heading to and from...anywhere.
Of course one of the first things I was looking forward to having was some pasta. I stopped at this small restaurant and opted to eat outside because of the nice weather (mid-September) and so that I could people-watch. I ordered lasagna bolognese, and a half bottle of white wine. The pasta was extremely fresh, and had a great flavor to each bite. Please know that the wine in Italy seems a bit stronger than in the United States, and it's also extremely cheap. So, it's quite easy to go through a lot of wine while visiting. I had no issue with this.
After lunch, I walked along the water until I got to the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, where I was able to see St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge's Palace. I stayed long enough to snap a few pictures and then headed over to the Grand Canal, where I wanted to hop on a gondola. The gondola rides are a bit pricy, especially if you are by yourself. It costs 80€ for a 30-minute ride, but if you are with a group, you can split the cost. I believe you can get up to six riders on a gondola. Some of them even had singers aboard serenading those who were riding. I did not want to be bothered with that, but I didn't mind hearing their voices from afar. Though I was taken aback by the cost of the rides, I was not about to come all the way to Venice, a place known for their gondolas, and not ride one. After the ride was complete, I hopped back on the water taxi and caught a spectacular view of the sun getting ready to set, as I headed back to my hostel.
On Day 2, I headed back to San Marco to have lunch with a few friends from the ship I had just debarked. We dined at Bacaro Jazz, and enjoyed a couple pitchers of sangria, margaritas, and specialty shots prepared by our bar tender. I ordered the Four Seasons pizza and was not disappointed. For the rest of the day, I chilled a small restaurant called Bar Gelateria Da Nini to drink coffee, and write this blog entry before heading to the airport for my red eye flight. Food and drink are extremely reasonable in Venice, and it's definitely a place I would not mind visiting again.