Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Travel and Review : Italy in 2 weeks.


Day 1 : Arriving in Venice.


What can I say? Italy is just oozing with charms. If you have never been to Italy then this is a city on your must-go visit. Unlike others who prefer to go on tour trips to Europe in 14 days (is that crazy or what?) or the backpackers who spent months touring different parts of Europe (I don’t like to sleep in dorms), I am pretty much a practical traveller who has just enough vacation time to enjoy a country in at most 2 weeks. If you are like me and don’t like to rush through a country and prefer to laze around and soak in the atmosphere of the sights and sounds without them being too overwhelming, then please keep reading.

I started my travel to Italy in the month of June (the beginning of their summer months) and started my trip in Venice. Yup, other than Paris, Venice has its charm of being a romantic city as well. It was only later that I realized that the main attraction of Venice is not Venizia (as the Italians called it) but the island itself. Thus if you are looking for places to stay just make sure its indicated as near St Marco because that will be situated in the main island, others might have you staying in the mainland (which is very very very far from the island itself) and make sure also that it is not on another island (there are many islands around Venice itself) because it is going to be a hassle to get back to your hotel from the main island especially at night when the water buses are very limited.


From the airport, a short walk will lead you to the alilaguna, a water bus system which is cheap and rather comfortable. Near it, at exorbitant rate is the water taxi which will lead you straight to your hotel doorsteps but I rather take the water bus and make my way to my hotel – not only is it more fun but you get to understand Venice even better.




Once you board the water bus aka alilaguna (tickets can be purchased on the spot), be prepared for a 40min boat ride to either San Lorenzo or St Marco water bus stop (So try to book your hotels near these 2 stations). Another option is to book your hotel near the RIALTO water bus stop but I prefer the former as the view is way way way nicer ….. besides you can always walk to the RIALTO which is again much more fun to do.


Unfortunately during my summer trip, the weather was pretty rainy thus the view is not as picturesque as it might be but nonetheless the fact that you are in Venice, looking at the gondola going through the canals is an experience unlike any other.


The main island of Venice is pretty small so staying 2 nights here is more than sufficient. The cool thing about Venice is the fact that you need to get lost within the meandering lanes of the island. Trust me, its a lot of fun! Personally, I found more than 6 ways to reach my hotel from the main basilica and I am sure there are many many more ways to find it. Getting lost in Venice is the charm of the island by itself because along the different lanes you will discover different shops which may just have the things you are eyeing for all this while.


so the tip for enjoying a trip in venice is TO GET LOST!!!


You cannot miss the above monument (St Mark Basilica) as its right smack in the centre of the main island.


If you like to enter it, it is better to book your slot online. You can do so by booking your visit here. Once you have your ticket, please print it and just wait at one of the entrance which is catered for group booking 10 minutes before your allocated time. (Do not join the long queue with the rest who did not purchase the ticket beforehand!)

It should be said at the outset that St. Mark’s Basilica is, perhaps, my favorite church on earth (at least that I’ve visited so far), so you’ll have to pardon my gushing. Despite what could be considered a bias toward this church, I can assure you that my affinity is well-placed, and Basilica di San Marco is a must-see while in Venice.

The structure which now stands proudly at the head of St. Mark’s Square dates from the 11th century, but it was built in the place of an older church, so there has been a church on this site for many hundreds of years. If you’re used to the straight lines and flying buttresses of Gothic-style churches, you’ll be cocking your head to one side as you stand in the Square and look at the many domes on the roof of St. Mark’s. No, it’s certainly not Gothic. But what is it? It’s Byzantine, bringing a bit of the East over to the West at a time when Venice was a major port and therefore a crossroads between the two worlds. As if to emphasize the city’s position as an important stop on the trade routes, the front of the Basilica is decorated with mis-matched columns which were all stolen from elsewhere and brought back to Venice as trophies.

The word “basilica” denotes the fact that a church houses the remains of a saint (or the partial remains, anyway), and in this case the saint in question is St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice. His bones were brought to Venice in the 9th century, stolen from Egypt and intended to increase the importance of Venice even more. It worked. Of course, the Venetian thieves probably thought they were just fulfilling destiny by making off with Mark’s remains – a legend of the time said that an angel had appeared to Mark in a vision, telling him he would be laid to rest in Venice. The same cannot be said, of course, for the columns, jewels, and other objects sea captains brought back to Venice over the years, but that is another matter. Originally a private church for the Doge’s (Venice’s rulers), Basilica di San Marco was only made public to ordinary Venetians in the early 1800s.



So use the first day to just wander along the lanes and buy things along the way which you fancy because unless you are very geographically talented, finding that same shop on your way back may not be such an easy task. Hell, but if you are determined to do so, then there is nothing to stop you, is there?

Above all, don’t forget this when you are in Italy, be it Venice or other places…… Buy buy buy and eat eat eat their gelato……anytime, anywhere….it is THAT delicious!

Now head over to your hotel, and rest for Day 2.

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