Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Best of Venice

Venice is a popular and wonderful tourist destination in the world. Plenty of travel enthusiasts visit Venice every year. I have to admit, when we visited I left disappointed. Maybe we visited at on off time? Then again, we went for the opening weekend of Carnival! Maybe we just had a bad experience.  Looking back, I enjoyed Venice, not just for it's natural beauty. But also for the history that surrounds the city.

Here are my top reasons to visit Venice:

+ The canals

They are everywhere. It makes for the perfect photo op. You cannot go to Venice without running into a canal. Especially since it's the only way besides walking to get around the city.

+ Architecture

In Venice there are about 15,000 buildings, among them 900 palaces and 105 churches. They are all built upon millions of tree-trunks (10 - 30 feet long), which are driven through the soft material into the solid ground of the lagoon. These buildings spread over more than 120 islands. Some 400 bridges span the 177 canals that separate these islands.

+ Gondola Rides

Now this is a hit or miss. Some people love to bargain, others don't. To find a good deal you have to bargain with the drivers.  If you're willing to pay 80-100 euros to take a 30-45 min gondola ride around the city (if you're in Veince, just do it!) Gondola rides can be romantic, or scary depending on who you're with. Your guide will sing songs, point out important places and you get to sit back and relax. We chose to take a 45 minute Gondola Ride and paid 80 EUR. Our Gondoleer sang some romantic Italian songs and pointed out famous buildings. We saw all the best sights, and had a great time. Would we do it again? No. But it is something that is worth doing at least once.

+ A Sinking City

Venice is a very fragile city. Studies have showed the city of Venice is subsiding on average about 1 to 2 mm a year. Don't forget that the sea level is rising. While a hundred years ago there were about 400 incidents of "acqua alta" or flooding. Now days, the right mix of tides and winds drives the canals up into homes and shops in the lowers parts of the city. Back in the 1990s, there were ~2,400 incidents! You better hurry up and visit the city while it’s still above sea level!

+ Carnival

Love the Venetian lifestyle? In February for 2 weeks, Carnival takes place in Venice. Costume balls, parades, ceremonies, masquerades and festivities can be found in the city during this time. Tourists love to visit Venice during this time so that they can participate in the carnival and enjoy the Venetian culture. For us, we were expecting Carnival to be more like you would find in Montreal or some Latin American countries. You know... a big party! Haha. Unfortunately, Italian Carnival is not the "big-party-in-the-streets" of other Carnival's.

+ St. Mark's Square / Play with Pigeon (Or don't)

Pigeon's are basically the birds of Venice. You cannot walk two steps without running into a pidgeon. There are even photographers willing to take your pictures with pidgeon's on you or eating out of your hand, and print them out (for a fee) and people ask to take pictures with the birds. Me? I'm a sane person and know that pigeons are disease ridden birds. DO NOT TOUCH THEM. Haha.

Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world for its celebrated art and architecture. The city has an average of 50,000 tourists a day and in 2006, it was the world's 28th most internationally visited city, with 2.927 million international arrivals that year. It is regarded as one of the world's most beautiful cities. If you ever get the chance, visit Venice.

Did I miss your favorite part of Venice? Let me know!