Wow! Venice is incredibly beautiful. Actually, this was my second thought after stepping off the bus in Venice. My first was, Holy cow Batman! It’s freaking cold and windy here. Where the hell is my winter clothing and why did I not bring any?
So there you have it: My master packing plan has already failed. Ah, the interesting thing about long term travel. You really can never be fully prepared. As the majority of my itinerary will be in hot places, I thought two long-sleeved shirts and a fleece were a bit overkill. But for the next 3 days, I wore a tank top, a short-sleeved shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a fleece, a rain jacket, leggings (yep, the same pair of leggings for 3 straight days & nights), pants, and two pairs of socks. So virtually half of my wardrobe. Apparently, the weather took an unexpected turn for the worse when I showed up. How convenient.
Finding the Hostel
I got into the actual city around 10:30am on March 9th. Loaded down with my bags, I crossed the Calatrava Bridge (a recently built, highly controversial bridge over the Grand Canal). I was staying in the Cannaregio district of Venice on the upper side of the Grand Canal. I opted to save €6.50 and walk to the hostel instead of taking the water bus. Passing through a small vegetable market, I was already intrigued by the magnificent colors and textures. Trying to snap photos with my backpack and rucksack on was no easy feat but I couldn’t put my camera down! I was following a map printed from the internet and after crossing multiple bridges over smaller canals, I unloaded all of my stuff onto the ground. Distracted with camera in hand, I wasn’t sure if I was headed in the right direction anymore or if I had gone too far. My directions said something about a square with a church and the hostel entrance was a green door just over a bridge. I looked up, and there it was. Perfecto.
The Grand Canal
I dropped my luggage off and made fast friends with roommates from Portugal. We headed out around noon for a vaparetto ride down the Grand Canal. Braving the cold and wind, we sat outside on the boat to take photos. My hands were purple and numb, but I was (almost) oblivious to it, completely enthralled by the magnificent old buildings and recalling scenes from The Italian Job.I mean, how cool would it be to drive your boat into your garage when arriving home? And to a magnificent home at that.
Piazza San Marco
We hopped off the vaporetto and made our way to Piazza San Marco. To enter the main area of the Basilica is free, and it was striking with its glittering gold mosaic scenes. Some of the mosaics are almost 1000 years old! They are so intricate, and I just stood there baffled at how labor-intensive it must have been to piece them together.
After leaving the Basilica we wandered through the streets of Venice, admiring it’s beauty and of course taking lots of photographs. We happened upon Bacaro Jazz, a bar that folks at my hostel had gone to the night before. Hang up your bra and they’ll give you a tank top in exchange. On their website, they refer to it as ‘warm decor’. Haha. Did I miss something? Expensive lingerie for a cheap tank top is not worth it in my book, but quite fun to see! After a short rest, we headed over to the sister hostel for pasta dinner (yes, it was included in the stay!) and ended the evening with a Venetian Spritz at a bar. I thought the drink was a bit bitter but most tourists are fans of them! Just give me a glass of red wine, and I’m good to go!