Venice, Italy

[Sept 12, 2007]

From Austria, our tour bus headed for Italy next. The first Italian city we visited was none other than Venice (Venezia).

Venice is famous as the hometown of Marco Polo, the famous Italian adventurer who traveled to China and served in Genghis Khan’s Mongolian court about 1000 years ago. It is also a central trading gateway between Asia and the rest of Europe. More recently, Venice is also famous as one of the main locations for Mark Wahlberg’s movie The Italian Job.

Venice is actually an island. To get here from mainland Italy, there are two ways to do it. You can either drive across a bridge, or take the ferry. Being the tourists that we were, of course we went with the more exciting of the two options.

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Our ferry’s captain

He’s quite a looker, isn’t he? The girls were all drooling over him

Why is taking the ferry to Venice more exciting compared to driving across the bridge? Well, because if you take the ferry, you will be able to see these…

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Don’t ask me for the names of these buildings though. I don’t know what they are called

The first thing that greeted us when got off the ferry was this magnificent statue, the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (The Victor Emanuel II Monument)

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Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II

And then our guided tour began. We started walking along the seafront until we reached these familiar columns..

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Colonne di San Marco e San Todaro

See those columns there? That’s where they used to hang thieves who felt finefreaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional” – The Italian Job

Just beyond these columns, lies (Paul’s name for the places) 威尼斯大广场 Venice big plaza and 威尼斯大教堂 Venice big church, or more accurately Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) and Basilica di San Marco (St Mark’s Cathedral).

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This basilica is probably the second most famous cathedral in Italy (the most famous one being in Vatican City of course). It has a nickname called Chiese d’Oro (Church of Gold), apparently there are some mosaics in this cathedral that are made of gold. It is the symbol of Venice’s wealth and power back in the medieval ages.

Unfortunately, we could not go inside for a peek. There is a limited opening time for visitors every day, and apparently we missed the timing. And you know how tour groups have tight schedule to follow. Shucks….

We then moved on to the next agenda of our Venetian itinerary:

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Gondola Ride!

Seriously, one of the few things that Venice is famous for are the canals and gondolas. Even though it is super expensive (I think it was €25 in 2007), please pay and get a ride. You don’t want to spend so much money to travel all the way here and then miss out on this once in a lifetime experience because you wanna save on €20 or €30. The long term regret when you go home is totally not worth it!

Okay, let’s show you more of my gondola ride. Each gondola can hold up to 5 passengers. This was 2007, selfies have not been invented yet. So, to take photos of ourselves, there are 2 options.

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Option 1: One person take photo of the other four
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Option 2: Ask the gondolianer to take your photo

Of couse, option 2 is a higher risk venture. The gondolianer (gondola driver) needs to multitask between the camera and the gondola, so.. yeah… you know… your camera might end up at the bottom of the canal…

By the way, that impressive looking bridge in the backdrop is the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge), the oldest and most famous bridge in Venice.

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You can also take photos of other gondolas

Boy oh boy, when you look at this photo, doesn’t it look kind of precarious? The gondola looked like it might overturn at any moment. 😐

Here’s some more pictures from the gondola…

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Other tourists looking on in envy
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These boats also reminded me of The Italian Job
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Traffic jam at the canal
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This is much better, love this photo
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Hmm…..

The gondola ride took about half an hour in total. After the ride, it was time to leave this lovely island. And by leave, I mean get the hell out of here.

You see, although this island is lovely and historical, there is one major problem that has already been mentioned by most other travel bloggers. According to Paul, this problem is not seasonal, it occurs 365 days a year. What I mean is: bloody crowded. I don’t need to elaborate, I’ll just show you some pictures…

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Yeah, welcome to Venice! You are lovely, your buildings are lovely, your canals and gondolas are lovely, but you know me. I don’t do crowds, like, ever. So the one thing I most looked forward to when on this island was to get the hell out of here.

Venezia, grazie mille for the experiences, but arrivederci, and addio! We shall probably never see each other again…

On the other hand, if I ever find myself in this part of the world again, I would probably want to visit one of those sister islands surrounding Venice, like Murano and Burano. I heard they are almost as lovely, without the crazy crowds.

34 Comments

  1. I thought Italy was a crowded country too, but then I traveled to China 😀

    You really need to go back to Venice, it is not always that crowded and you still need to visit San Marco inside, totally stunning! Get to Burano as well 😉

    Safe travels!

    • I think one of the reasons I don’t particularly remember Venice is because of the crowds. Most of the time I was there, I was looking forward to get out instead of appreciating the surroundings. 😐

  2. This place is in my bucket list and I cannot wait to sit on the gondolas someday. Luckily this gondolianer could multitask and keep you guys safe. The ship capsized in China really gave me goose bumps.

    • Well, he is an expert in his field, so we just have to trust him. In hindsight, I think it is hard to capsize in Venice, where the canals have smooth waters. Unless the passengers are idiots.

  3. Were the girls just pretending to take a photo so that they can get a shot of the hunky guy into the picture? 😀 I don’t think I would dare take the gondola ride without any life jackets. What if I fall off coz I don’t know how to swim leh!

    • I can’t remember. I think they were just photobombing! 😀

      I don’t think there’s life jackets for the gondola. Well, if anything, so many people taking the ride should comfort you of it’s safety? 😀

    • Not to mention it is getting more and more crowded and expensive because many people want to visit for the same reason as yours. Faster go go go! 😀

  4. Ahh, Venice, the beautiful city.. The trip would not be complete without the boat ride, I’ve seen it in movies countless times.. Must ride the boat, sing songs, then only perfect one..Opps, not boat ride, it’s gondola ride, hehe..

    • Sing songs? No sing songs lah. So many tourists around, if you sing, will look very jakun. Unless you Ariana Grande or Taylor Swift or something lah 😀 😀 😀

  5. Aiyor!!!! I always imagine gondola rides to be so romantic, one loving couple so in love, the boatman serenading some Italian love song… 😀 😀 😀 Gosh!!!! So many people – my head will start spinning already, I wanna go home! LOL!!!

  6. I guess as much that you would not want to go back to visit Venice due to the crowd. No need to go again, if you miss Venice, just watch the movie “The Tourist” starring Angelina Jolie.

    Good that you went on a Gondola ride at that time since you are not going to visit Venice again.

  7. I’ve never thought about taking a gondola ride in Venice because it seems really touristy, but then I read a blog post about how the gondolier is a dying craft. And not just anyone can be one, you literally have to be born into it. There are only so many spots and it’s handed down from one generation to the next. So now I don’t think I would mind paying them $$ to go on a ride (though I think it’s WAY more expensive now, and knowing us, we’ll be too cheap to do it).

    • I saw Marta’s comment, 80 euros, if that is true then I might have to revise my advice here! That’s freaking too much if it is per person!

  8. Last year I read an article about Venice, the city is actually dying out because people can’t afford living in the center, housing and groceries are too expensive thanks to the massive tourism…

    But your pictures look great!
    I think it was last year when someone told me the gondola ride was 80 euros??

    • I think it is the same with most places that are blooming with tourism, eventually it will take over whatever local prices and life that is left…

      WTF?! 80 euros?! There must be some mistake, cannot be so expensive? Could it be 80 euros for the whole gondola? That would make sense, each gondola seats 5 passengers..

  9. ah yes.. Venice!! it’s really a very beautiful place and i wish i could go there once again.. it was just a very brief half-day tour if not mistaken, and we also PAID to go for an excursion to Burano.. i was happy because we also took the Gondola (not on the water taxi looking at other gondolas envily, haha), and i remember there was one very famous (but very small) bridge that the tour guide especially pointed out..

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