After our boat tour through the canals with Walks of Italy, we had a limited amount of time to finish exploring the rest of the maze that makes up Venice. This city is definitely a vacation destination and not really a stop for budget travelers. The cost of food was about double that of anything else we had encountered throughout Italy and even getting there proved to be costly. We took a very convenient ferry directly from the Venice airport to the city but it cost us 15 euros (approx. $20)/per person one- way. The one-hour ferry ride would have been nice except it really wasn’t a ferry. It was a small boat where everyone had to sit down inside so you couldn’t see much and were pretty crammed with people and luggage. As for our accommodations we chose to stay in another Air BnB apartment ($420 for two nights) where we had a kitchenette and could cook our own meals and not eat out all of the time. We did eat out for one meal though and we got a big surprise along with the bill. In Italy, there is a service charge and a cover charge for many restaurants. The service charge ranges anywhere from 12%-18% and the cover charge is usually around 2 euros/per person. Not all restaurants charge these fees, but some do. We thought before entering that we were told that none of these fees were to be charged, we were mistaken and ended up paying way too much for a couple of mediocre pasta dishes and two glasses of wine.
The city of Venice is an amazing place and a very pretty one at that. Even though many buildings are run down on the outside due to them sitting on islands surrounded by salt water, it adds character. As you walk through the alleyways, many of which are only wide enough for two people, you forget you’re on an island maze of buildings that are sitting on wooden piles in the middle of a bay. Then, the ambulance boat goes by and you realize that you’re not in an ordinary city, but in a scene straight out of Waterworld. The taxis are not yellow and do not have a Plexiglas window between the seats. They are very nice boats that cruise through the canals picking up tourists to go to another island or maybe back to their hotel. Then there are the gondolas; the romantic love boats steered by an attractive man who sings songs that will make your heart melt. The truth is, many of the gondoliers look like they came off the Jersey Shore television show and don’t sing, but instead sit behind their customers on their phone or talking to fellow gondoliers. Don’t get us wrong, it looks like a lot of fun, but at 80 euros for 40 minutes ($109) during the day and 100 euros ($135) at night (both for up to six people), we just didn’t think it was worth it, especially for travelers on a budget that has already been stretched a little too far.
The piazzas (squares) throughout Venice are beautiful, just like many others that we have seen across Italy, and are filled with people enjoying the day. Off of every piazza in almost every direction is an alley that will inevitably lead you past shops filled with merchandise for sale like the ever-famous Venetian masks that Venice is known for. When you get to the end of that alley, there will be another in a different direction, leading you over a tiny bridge spanning one of the many canals. Some paths will lead you straight to the water with no way of getting around the building you’re standing by except to retrace your steps and find another way. It would be really interesting to watch the city from directly above and see people walking around as if they were a rat in a maze, trying to reach that piece of cheese.
The city of Venice should be visited by everyone at least once in their lifetime if for nothing other than the simple experience of walking through the streets. For us, this Venetian city on the Adriatic Sea was a nice stop on our travels even if there were a lot of people and the prices were very high. There is so much history here and we barely scratched the surface.