Our first real day in Venice started with a €4.00, all you can eat breakfast at our hostel. It included coffee, juice, fruit yogurt, bread, cheese and meat but sadly wasn’t anything special. Not to worry though because for €3.50 you could get an alternative breakfast of better orange juice, better coffee and a croissant stuffed with chocolate. Yum.
Anyway, after food, we ventured out onto the ferry and across to San Marco square, marveling at the Bridge of Sighs, the leaning tower of Venice (I don’t know if it was called that it was a tower, leaning and in Venice) and the Doge’s Palace along the way. We had to fight through the crowds to see the bridge, apparently the time to see it is at night, we had been completely alone in front of it before. If Berlin is like an open air gallery then Venice is like an open air museum. You’re all walking along, cross a bridge, everyone turns and takes a picture and then continues walking, cross another bridge, turn and take another picture and keep repeating. Everywhere is an exhibit.
The square was just as beautiful as I remembered from the previous night and we decided to join the massive queue into the Basilica. Mercifully, it seemed to be moving but we still wait a while. Being Easter weekend, it wasn’t surprising that there were people everywhere. To our surprise, the Basilica was generally free entry, unless you wanted to venture into certain parts of it. The inside was stunning, with golden imagery across the ceiling. There were signs up requesting that visitors did not take photos but I don’t think I’ve seen a more ignored sign since the one requesting no pictures at the Sistine Chapel!
When we were back in the square again, it was time to join the back of another queue for the Campanile (Bell Tower). This one was also moving but seemed to take longer. As we waited, we watched people pose for photos with the pigeons and wondered whether we were going to have to climb massive of stairs or whether they had installed a lift. I didn’t think I was fit enough to attempt that many steps but thankfully there was a lift! It cost us about €8.00 to go to the top and it was certainly worth it for the panoramic views of the city. However, it was incredibly windy and so after we finished photo-taking, we did rush to get back down again!
Once we’d returned to the ground, we followed the signs towards the Rialto Bridge and from there onto Sotoportego del Banco Giro, a square we’d passed through the night before and had been filled with music and people having drinks. The bridge was even more impressive in the daylight and when we weren’t dragging our stuff across the city and while the square was busy, with people and market stalls, it didn’t have the food we were looking forward. Luckily however we spotted further stalls in the neighbouring square and there we found Al Merca and mini bread rolls and wine- all for very affordable prices. We sat in the sun and munched away before hopping on the vaporetto and heading off to Accademia where we hoped to find the Guggenheim.
We’d expected to get lost a lot in Venice, so we were surprised when we actually found it. I had never been to a Guggenheim museum before and it wasn’t what I was expecting. The building was modern and the art included cubist and expressionist. Our student cards thankfully reduced the ticket price from €14.00 to €8.00 and we were also lucky enough to coincide with a tour where we were taken around the minimalist exhibit with a guide who explained the art to us. It was certainly worthwhile, minimalism has never been a genre that particularly appealed to me but the talk made me look at it in a different way and understand more as to how it works.
Since we hadn’t slept well the night before and had a busy day so far, we decided we could justify a nap and so we went back to our hostel and did just that. When we awoke, we were hungry. We’d heard about Venetian food prices and so had found some reviews on places where we could find cheap and cheerful food but unfortunately our map was useless against the lanes of Venice and it hadn’t occurred to us to find a better one. We ended up wandering around aimlessly and ended up at the Rialto Bridge again. We knew we were unlikely to find anything we could afford around there but we came across a menu with decently-priced pizzas at a restaurant on the Grand Canal. Sadly, although the food around us smelt delicious, our pizzas were average, but still it was a lovely setting and we had wine.
Afterwards we decided to go back to the spot we had found our lunch and see if anywhere was serving drinks and we found a bar called Muro. Although it was busy, we were lucky enough to grab a table and so that is where we ended our day, sipping wine in the mild spring night.