Day 4: Venice: Before we left the train station in Lausanne, we had to indulge ourselves in the delicious sweet pastries at the train station bakery. I had a couple of powdered sugar and jelly filled croissants while also purchasing some sandwiches and a baguette to munch on during the train ride to Venice.
First stop on the After Tour – Venice, Italy.
Our train followed the north side of Lake Geneva with beautiful views of the vineyards, Alps and Lake Geneva. The view was awesome through the train windows, but as we continued further east, we began to go through more and more tunnels and our beautiful views of the Alps disappeared until we come out on the other side of the large mountains and into Italy, which had more rolling hills and lots of rural farmland dotted with olive groves and vineyards.
Once we arrived in Venice, we had a short walk to our Air BnB. This rental had a small balcony over one of the many small canals of Venice. Occasionally you would hear a small motor boat pass by the apartment. This took a bit of getting used to, but there was no traffic once the sun went down. I am not sure if that is a regulation or something, but we were never woken up by any boats outside our apartment at night. Again, there was no AC so we had the windows open and had to content with some mosquitoes at night.
After getting settled in we headed out to check out the Grand Canal. We explored the many side streets and smaller canals and stopped at the Rialto Bridge to take in the views and do some people watching. This was the busiest part of Venice during the time we were there.
My initial impression of Venice was that it is breathtakingly beautiful with the water and historical value, but it seems very commercialized. Most of the shops on the island were geared toward the many day tourists. It felt like a huge outdoor shopping mall, almost Disneyesque if you stayed near the main attraction areas. However, if you got off the beaten path you got to see the real Venice, where there were small courtyards and families enjoying their evening. This is the Venice we came to see and it took a little bit of searching to find it, but we did on our last night.
We continued winding through the small alleyways and found our way to St. Mark’s Square were we found a nice restaurant for drinks and dinner. There was a band playing in the open air of the square and it had a very nice atmosphere. We could have sat there all night and watched people walk by.
St. Mark’s Square is one of the main hubs of tourism to the island. There is a lot of hustle and bustle, but a very pretty location to spend an evening while in Venice.
Arcicchetti Bakaro was not far from our rental apartment, so we visited this square a few times for a meal and would just have a seat on the steps next to the canal and enjoy ourselves.
Day 5: We knew we had to go on a gondola ride to truly appreciate Venice. Our gondola ride took us through the many side canals and out into the Grand Canal. It is truly amazing watching the gondolier maneuver the boat through the many narrow passageways, but also under the many foot bridges. Ours had us move to one side of the boat, while he leaned it to the side to slip it under a couple of low foot bridges. It was very impressive. I see why the gondoliers have a certain training and requirement in order to maneuver their crafts and island.
My recommendation while in Venice is to go on a gondola ride and get off the beaten path and enjoy some authentic Italian food away from the hustle and bustle of the main attraction of Venice. You will be glad you did. It’s a lot more relaxing too.
The Bridge of Sighs is just off St. Mark’s Square and is another famous sight that draws a lot of tourists to this area of Venice.
We explored Venice away from the main attractions and found out how truly beautiful Venice can be away from the crowds.
Day 6: A Venice breakfast then catching the train to Florence, Italy. I fell in love with he orange marmalade filled croissants in Venice… so I had a few more before we departed.