Ah…Venice!

Our final stop in Italy was Venice. We had begun in Rome and slowly made our way north east to this utterly enchanting and puzzling city. Enchanting because the city is built completely on water. Puzzling because someone, a long time ago said to themselves, “I have an idea, let’s build a city completely on water.” No cars in Venice and, thank you Lord, no scooters.

Venice is a fascinating study in contrasts. It is equal part fishing village, renaissance city and tourist trap. There are at least as many tourists as citizens in Venice, a fact that bemuses many of the locals. Getting lost in the maze like alleys is part of the experience and some locals enjoy pranking tourists by leading them astray with fake directional signs. Here is a classic example:

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While the directions are technically correct, if you wait to get inside the boat to buy a ticket, you risk a massive fine. Some Venetian is chuckling at the thought of a tourist getting trapped by the Polizia for boarding without a prepaid ticket….

And on some level I can sympathize with the frustration. Venice was packed with tourists, all squeezed into narrow alleyways and many of whom unexpectedly stop for a photo or to window shop, oblivious that they held up dozens of people. Here is a classic Venice tourist, truly ready for any photographic occasion, including, apparently, the ability to take 3 shots at once from 3 different cameras:

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But if you enjoy the charm of getting lost and you can navigate the lower level grumpiness of most of the locals in the service industry, Venice is utterly enchanting.

We had so much fun in Venice.

We tried to experience a wide variety of accommodations on our trip, from AirBnB apartments to hotels to youth hostels. For Venice we grabbed a small 2 bedroom apartment. Here is the view outside the kitchen window. The rope is the clothes line. You want to make sure your laundry is very well pegged when it is hanging above a canal…

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Venice is packed with iconic places and experiences. St Mark’s square is charming and touristy at the same time. We made our long suffering children sit through an Italian Mass so their Dad could enjoy some liturgy. It was surreal to see the place where Mark, the Gospel writer is buried. We went to a local island famous for the ancient art of glass blown products. We rode a gondola and continued our ongoing quest for excellent gelato and pizza and on the way discovered what must be the world’s finest and friendliest chocolate shop. Venice had it all.

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Venice also had live music. Lots of it. Here is a small, courageous ensemble tackling Ravel’s ambitious piece “Bolero.” Note the conductor is also the castanets dude. It was very nicely done.

What is Venice? Tourist trap? One of the world’s most iconic cities? You could as easily argue that at the end of the day, Venice is the world’s most opulent fishing village:

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By the time we left Venice, we had enjoyed Italy for 16 days – an utter luxury for us. We loved every place we stayed and built so many lifelong memories, it was overwhelming. Our original plan had been to head from here to Athens and then Turkey, but with the volatility in Turkey, we changed plans and rerouted through Germany and Austria to Croatia and then finally Athens. We had done very little research on Germany, but it was time to discover it quickly – we had less than 36 hours to enjoy it. Tomorrow: Munich.

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