Before the first time we visited Venice, just like everyone else I’m sure, I already had an idea in my mind of what the city was like from all the movies set there. I thought it was a kind of magical place of romance and intrigue. A truly unique place that was frozen in time.
Marryam and I told ourselves not to get our expectations too high, that it probably would not live up to its reputation. But on our first trip there, walking out of the train station and being greeted by the amazing Grand Canal, we straight away fell in love with the city.
Venice is a city with a very distinct feel to it. There are no cars, no roads, only canals full of boats and tiny laneways full of people. This made the city feel very relaxed to me. Without cars, there was no feeling of rushing here or there, everyone walks around at a comfortable pace taking it all in.
Because of this, many of the normal daily practices of the Venetians feels like it is from a different time. Around the big ports there are men wearing the recognizable blue and white of the gondoliers, the bell boys who cart your bags from the docks to your hotel, and so many more!
Venice itself is surprisingly small, taking only a few hours to walk across it. And because the size of the city is fixed, it feels quite frozen in time. Most buildings there have been there for hundreds of years, and every building feels like it has a thousand stories to tell. Almost every street, bridge and canal has its own feel and character. And for a lot of them, their own stories as well! Every alleyway feels alluring, inviting or mysterious. So every time you go for a walk it feels like an adventure.
Especially in the night, when the streets are empty of people and sounds carry strangely through the alleyways. You can hardly ever see more than a dozen metres in front of you because of the twisting and turning alleys, with little to no lighting in many of them. It feels like you have stepped directly into a movie, and anything could happen!
Having said that, we have only ever been to Venice in Winter and in Spring – we have never been there in peak season when people say the place is full of people and apparently really difficult to get around…so if you’re willing to face unpredictable weather in exchange for more walking space, then I’d definitely recommend going there in the off-peak season 🙂
I always suggest Venice as a must-see city for people on their first trip to Europe, because although there are many, many amazingly beautiful cities in Europe, Venice is completely unique!