We left Slovenia, heading to Venice by bus, a trip which lasted around 4 hours and included a pit stop at Udine.
We arrived at the floating city in the early evening, just as it became bathed in soft golden sunlight. Instead of getting a water taxi, we decided to walk to our accommodation, winding our way through the streets and over bridges to make our way from the main port across the island to our Airbnb.
We spent our first evening in Venice sampling cicchetti - small snacks which are commonly served in bars (bàcari) across Venice.
Whilst jumping from bar to bar, we quickly discovered that Aperol/Campari spritzes were generally about 2-3 euros, compared with beer, which was around 5 euros. That made choosing a drink much easier… We also discovered that the optimum spritz is a half and half mixture of Aperol and Campari - just bitter enough, not too sweet.
As we drank and ate our way across the city, the weather slowly descended into an almighty thunderstorm, forcing us back to our apartment to grab some much needed R&R.
Luckily we awoke the next day to a calm, sunny morning.
For our first full day in the city, we decided to go all in on the sightseeing.
We started off by visiting the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), the former residence of the Doges of Venice, the elected leaders of the former Venetian Republic. Next to St Mark’s Basilica, the palace dates back from the 12th century and has gone through multiple renovations during the following centuries.
Today visitors can see the the main courtyard, Doge’s apartments, Institutional chambers (used to facilitate governance of the republic), alongside the new and old prisons.
I was particularly interested in seeing the iconic Bridge of Sighs, infamous for the fact the view from the bridge was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment.
After spending a good three hours at the Doges Palace and the Museo Correr (which had an amazing exhibition about the printing press), we retired for an afternoon nap, priming ourselves for a late afternoon walking tour of the city.
Our tour focused on Venice through the centuries and took us across the north of the island. It was a fascinating way of spending two hours, to be honest I only wished it had been longer as there was so much to learn about.
Just as our tour was ending, the thunder returned again, prompting us to run back to our apartment and cook some of the delicious venetian produce we had picked up earlier on the the day.
The next day we split up as a group, as the boys wanted to check out the The Peggy Guggenheim Collection and I wanted to do some more walking and general exploring.
I ended up wandering about for most of the morning, stopping whenever I found a particularly interesting view or building.
Whilst wandering along, a particularly fine marble edifice caught my eye, this was the church of San Zaccaria, built in the 15th century.
Alongside a beautiful interior and remnants of a Byzantine church which previously stood on the site, the church also boasts an eerie part-submerged crypt, a relic from an earlier church and the resting place of several early Doges.
Over the centuries the lagoon has slowly risen up through the stonework and now the water levels wax or wane according to the tides.
For our last full day in Venice we decided to grab vaporetto (water bus) and head over to Murano, a series of islands 1.5km north of the main city.
Murano is famous for its glass and citizens of the island held a monopoly on high-quality glassmaking for centuries.
We spend a very pleasant afternoon strolling across the island, taking in several glass making demonstrations and indulging in a cheeky purchase or two.
Originally we had also planned to go to Burano, another island in the lagoon that is known for its lace work and brightly coloured homes.
However our tour guide had advised that it was better to try and do a couple of things properly if time was short, as opposed to hopping around and skimming the surface.
After we got back from Murano, we made another home cooked meal.
All the advice I had received before going to Venice focused on the fact that eating out on the island was mostly expensive and underwhelming. I think if you know where to go, you can get some amazing food out, especially if you focus on cicchetti.
We actually really enjoyed cooking for ourselves and going to the early morning markets to pick up fresh fish and vegetables - I would definitely recommend this if you aren’t afraid of experimenting in the kitchen.
The next day it was time to go home, we caught another vaporetto across the lagoon to the airport to wait for our flight.
Our adventure was over, until next time.