All of a sudden there’s water on both sides of the train. Tiny islands here and there in the open water. I’m only a few minutes from the last stop on the train, Venice!
I step out from the train station with an instant view of the Grand Canal with a beautiful arching bridge and Venetian architecture in every direction. I inhale the fresh, crisp waterfront air as I slowly step down the sweeping steps of the train station.
My hostel was just over the bridge in front of the station and to the left on the Grand Canal. Of course, like all routes in Venice, you have to walk a twisted route to get there. The Grand Canal does not have a sidewalk along its sides the whole way…. only on sections, so you have to walk away and zig zag back to the canal sometimes… But it’s kind of charming for that reason.
I found my hostel and was super excited when I saw the view from my dorm room, overlooking the Grand Canal! I had the perfect view of a three way canal intersection that was constantly bustling with boat traffic. Directly across at the canal corner was a church, with a statue of the Virgin facing towards the water, for the boat traffic to admire.
|View from my room|
Unfortunately, not far from my window was a water bus stop and water bus-boats make a lot of noise when they switch gears into reverse when docking. The bus starts running at 5 AM every morning and the rumble of the boat engines would shake my bed at times. But again, it’s part of the charm!
|My view of canal intersection|
I stowed my stuff away and headed out to explore and find food and coffee. When I first started walking, I realized as I made one turn and then another, that I could easily get lost in this maze of ancient alley-ways. The only landmarks are graffiti, architectural features, bridges, and flower boxes.
I begin to wish I had sidewalk chalk so I could draw arrows for myself to get back home. All I need are some bread crumbs! I try to make my route simple, but nothings simple in Venice.
I discover a fairly large square with a church and a couple cafes. It’s bustling with children playing and adults chatting over coffee and cigarettes. There are dogs running freely playing with each other. It strikes me that Venice is a pedestrian only city, so the dogs and children are safe to play as they please. How pleasant to not have to worry about cars?!
|Churchyard square - Venetian gathering place|
I grab a seat at a café and enjoy my sandwich and cappuccino. At the shop across from my table, a small dog stands in the doorway watching the world go by while its owner sits inside reading her newspaper. Life feels simple and relaxed here. I wished at that moment more than ever that I could speak Italian so I could get an even richer Venetian experience.
After dinner, I decided I needed to try the Venetian spritz drink I’d wanted to try ever since I saw Anthony Bourdain get blitz in Venice on the Travel Channel. I take a turn down an alley and see a crowd of smokers outside a bar… BINGO!
The bar has free potato chips set out as the appertivo. I get an explanation from the bartender in mostly English about the two different spritzes I can have. Sweet or Bitter, Aperol or Campari. I go for the Aperol spritz first. It’s red and spritzy, garnished with an olive and a slice of orange. Yum!
|Me and my bitter spritz|
Next, I try the bitter spritz made with Campari. Well the bitter spritz tastes awful! Maybe if you like liquorice you would like it. I held my nose and tried to gulp it down. Ugh!
Of course, I got another sweet spritz to fix the flavor in my mouth. Yum again! Cutest thing about this bar was the spittoon on the floor by the bar for people to spit their olive pits into. It’s genius. I held onto my first olive pit for a minute until I saw someone else spit their pit into the brass spittoon. How convenient?
After my spritzes, I decided I had accomplished enough for my first night in Venice, so I wandered back to my hostel the long way… but I found it. Walking the streets of Venice at night is a beautiful and peaceful experience. Even getting lost in Venice is a pleasure!
|Venice at night|