After 30 long hours of traveling, we finally arrived in Venice on Friday, about 18 hours past due. I'll admit that the trip here not only wiped us out but also put a damper on our plans, missing almost an entire day in Venice. Exhausted and weary, we did our best to rally once we arrived and make up for lost time.
I have been fortunate enough to travel to Italy four times in my life, the first time being with my family when I was just six years old. However, I have not made it to Venice on prior trips. Upon arrival I found it to be as magical as described, and as seen in the many the images we are all exposed to. Most particularly, at Christmastime. I was so excited to experience the city for the first time with my children and see it through their eyes.
Venice is not like any other city, in that there are no cars. I am not sure that I fully grasped this before I arrived. I have never been in a city with no cars, so it was difficult to imagine what this might feel like. In Venice, the only way to get around is by foot or by some form of water transportation. This aspect alone creates a feeling I have never experienced anywhere else, that is almost inexplicable to describe. Although there is the usual hustle and bustle of any fair-sized city, the lack of cars creates an overarching sense of peace and calm that I have not felt elsewhere. The Venetian people are not glued to their cell phones either, which is a refreshing change from most other places in the world these days. The residents are engaged in life, not staring down at phone screens. All are dressed stylishly (which is even more refreshing given the fashion choices of most Americans these days) and many are out with their dogs, of every breed and size imaginable. I have never seen so many well-dressed and pampered dogs, except perhaps in New York City.
The architecture is stunning. No buildings are allowed to be torn down nor new ones erected. Consequently, unlike anywhere else, things are frozen in time.
The canals are mesmerizing with the various types and sizes of boats going by. There are water buses, water taxis, gondolas, speed boats, and so many other types of boats, too countless to mention.
Since I love to walk, Venice is the perfect city for me. Everyone is out on foot, enjoying the many cafes and beautiful shops. The locals are living their best lives in this magical city.
We chose an Airbnb for our stay here and it could not be more perfect. Situated just a few minutes from the iconic Rialto Bridge, we are in an ideal location. Our apartment is spacious, yet cozy, newly renovated and so comfortable for the five of us.
I understand that Venice is supposed to be hot, humid, crowded, and bordering on intolerable in the summertime. Rather, at Christmas, it is just the opposite. The weather is brisk (in the 30s at night and the 40s during the day) and not crowded at all. The city is adorned with Christmas lights everywhere, which makes it even more magical. Venice has exceeded all my expectations and I am happy we decided to visit at this time of year, avoiding the heat and crowds in the summer.
As I started this blog last night, on Christmas Eve, at the kitchen table, the church bells began ringing all over the city at around 10:30 to mark the arrival of Christmas. They were still ringing, on and off, when I went to bed at close around 12:30. I have never heard anything like it. It was beautiful!
I am up early (5:45 to be exact) to finish my blog and prepare Christmas breakfast for the children before we depart for Florence, at midday today. I will be so sad to say goodbye to Venice but hope that we can return someday soon.
We were so glad to finally have arrived on Friday afternoon.
Although exhausted when we arrived, we managed to make it out in the evening for a stroll and a bit of dinner.
On our first full day in Venice, Garin and I wandered out early in the morning in search of freshly baked croissants. I got this great shot of him on the Rialto Bridge before the crowds arrived.
Despite still feeling exhausted from our journey, we covered quite a bit of ground on our first full day, seeing St. Mark's Basilica, Doge's Palace, and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. We wandered around countless charming streets and into lots of wonderful shops along our way.
On Christmas Eve, our second full day in Venice, everyone finally started to feel somewhat normal. To my great relief, I was no longer suffering from flu-like symptoms (body aches, light-headedness, and nausea) from extreme exhaustion. We started the morning with an iconic Venetian gondola ride, followed by boat trips to the islands of both Murano (home to the beautiful Murano art glass) and Burano (home to the one-of-a-kind Burano lace).
Enjoying our gondola ride on the canals.
As expected, the food has been scrumptious. We have enjoyed the delicious sandwiches, eaten outside on park benches and at outdoor cafes in the chilly weather, as much as the yummy pasta dishes served in the warm and cozy restaurants, which are plentiful in this culinary mecca. We decided that next time since we have seen all the major sights, we might just eat our way through this glorious city since there is so much we have yet to try.
Christmas breakfast in Venice.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas wherever in the world you may be celebrating!
In closing, we are sending our beloved Fitzy (as well as Anna, who is caring for him) a huge hug and kiss for Christmas. We love you!