My...my...my....you gonna see Venice for yourself to believe what I had just seen! The only place in the whole world where fantasy and reality united! I had always thought before that Venice was a peninsula or part of mainland with many canals like Amsterdam but no it was an island in its own right, which consisted of 117 small islands with over 150 canals, 400 bridges and 2,000 alleys!
As I came outside the train station, gondoliers and water taxis glided by in a huge maze of canals. Magnificent green domed San Simeone Piccolo church right before my eyes over the canal and I haven't yet put my right foot on the first step of wide marble steps that flowed down like an icing on a wedding cake. She took my breath away instantly and I was quivering in love with her already without the need of exploring her body for she was laid out in the open for all to see with her enticing, but wicked smile! She knew she had captivated me however she beckoned me to amble further. Narrow flagstone pavements with old stone buildings snuggled tightly against each other making for a formidable labyrinth.
We took somebody's advice to buy a map there so we wouldn't get lost so we bought one immediately and guess what? It was good for nothing, as we constantly got lost anyway! The best way was to follow the sign on the walls pointing the way to famous site of Piazza San Marcos, the oldest and only square in Venice. As for the rest it's either get lost or hire a guide! We opted to get lost as sure way of seeing something new and getting to know the ins and outs of Venice! Check out the photos and you will see why the dreamlike scenery had us pinching each other to make sure we weren't dreaming!
We finally found Ritalto and much to our disappointment there was a huge banner over the bridge. It was one of the historic landmarks of Venice and how dare they put banner promoting something over there! That for me ruined the picture opportunity. Grrr. After a short walk from there, we finally got to Piazza San Marcos and found it so-so and chock full of tourists! The restaurants there charged ridiculous prices like 7 euros ($9.10) for a cup of cappuccino or 24 euros ($31.20) for a light lunch of salad, sandwich and a beverage.
However walking through the canals and over bridges away from the tourist spots, I was truly entranced with its beauty and its stillness. Locals go about their daily routines and some gathered at piazzas to chat with their neighbors or to let their children play. Most, if not all, of the houses, mansions, palaces and churches were built during the early 14th century (I think) and remained in good conditions despite erosions from frequent flooding as Venice continues to sink year after year. It was as if time stood still and I could sense how life was like during that time when Venice flourished with trades of East and West. There were many stores selling fancy masks for the Carnival as well as wigs, period clothes and capes. They were beautiful and I was tempted to buy but decided not to as they wouldn't look the same after being lugged around in my backpack for months to come! ;-p
When evening falls, the fog came in and shrouded Venice with heavy mist. The effect was so stunning as all the streetlamps light were dimmed with black silhouette of people walking by. It was as if heaven has descended on earth as we wined and dined by the canal. Something I will never forget and will cherish that special moment till the end of time.
The other day we decided to buy a 90 minutes pass and ride on a water taxi taking us through the Grand Canal to Lido and back. We got to see many more palatial homes with their front doors facing the canal. They can't get in or out without the use of a boat! There were some hotels like that with tourists' luggage all set in front by the canal waiting for water taxis to take them out.
After seeing many cities during my jaunt, I must say that Venice is definitely the most beautiful and ethereal city in the world! I know I have said the same thing about Santorini in Greece, Kyoto in Japan, Cape Town in South Africa and many other places, too, but hey...Venice beats them all hands down! ;-)
Venetian hugs to yall!