Venice. Where do I start?

With some pictures since I know reading what some boring twat has to say can be… well… boring. Whilst in Venice I developed an inexplicable obsession with panoramic photographs. Click on any of these to big-ify them.

A Panorama from Venice

A Panorama from Venice

A Panorama from Venice

A Panorama from Venice

I have mixed feelings about these panoramic photos but I’m all about the sharing.

Venice is an easy city to photograph. Quite simply, everywhere you turn, there is a feast for the eyes, architecture, canals, bridges; it’s easy to get overloaded. However, Venice is a very difficult city to photograph well. What I mean by this is that it’s very hard to take a photograph that captures the atmosphere and the emotion that triggered the urge to take the photo in the first place.

I’ve found myself rejecting 19 out of 20 photos I took whilst I was there, as I simply don’t get any particular emotional response from them. I’ll share the ones I did like, as I walk you through our time in Venice.

We finally arrived at around 22:30 in the evening, desipte easyjet’s efforts to stop us going with yet another delayed flight. Our transport options were limited, so one Water Taxi ride later we are dropped off on the Grand Canal, right outside our hotel door, stepping from the boat onto a jetty seen here on the left here about half way along;

The Grand Canal Venice, by night

It’s too late to do much but have a drink in the hotel bar. One or two people warned me that Venice is expensive. I struggle to understand how they can say this – Venice isn’t expensive – it’s absurd. Expect to pay upwards of £7 for a 330cl bottle of beer. It makes the West End of London look positively thrifty. After a couple of drinks we head off to bed.

The next day arrives and we have our first opportunity to experience Venice proper. We head off on foot for the Basilica di San Marco – everyone says this is a must, so we’re keen to get it in on the first day. On the way we can immediately see why everyone makes such a fuss about Venice. Around every corner, there is a sight you wont see anywhere else in the world: Houses with their front door on a canal or accessed over tiny little picturesque bridges. Down a small back alley and suddenly you are in a grand square with an even grander Church overlooking it – around the next corner you enter a dark alley and wonder if you’ve hit a dead end, only to find yourself stood on a small but beautiful bridge over a canal with brightly coloured houses all around you.

View from a bridge in Venice
For all of it’s beauty though, Venice is a city in decay. Facades crumble away wherever you turn and for every building under construction, or more accurately renovation, hundreds more lie neglected. It can’t escape notice that every single piece of architecture is simliar – all thoroughly beautiful but all trapped in the past with no-where to go. At best, it will be maintained as it currently is, but you only have to walk for two minutes to know this doesn’t seem realistic. Your heart sees the rustic charm – your head wonders how deep the apparently superficial decay really goes.Venice houses show their age

Venice houses show their age

What do I know though? Venice has survived for hundreds of years, and will no doubt continue to do so. Graffiti is rife everywhere; It seems the residents of the city need a voice, and that voice is expressed in the form of incomprehensible graffiti – at least for a non Italian speaker. Although it’s pretty easy to understand the sentiment here:

Venice Graffiti

Around another corner and suddenly we’re at the Ponte de Rialto – one of only three bridges over the grand canal, and easily the most famous. We would later on in the holiday stop at this very spot for a delicious seafood lunch:

Ponte de Rialto,  Venice

We cross the bridge, and take in some of the shops selling typical Venetian tourist fare – Murano glass and ornate masks dominate. Holiday spending fever grips and you start to think one of these would make a good present for someone back home. Sanity prevails as we ask ourselves two questions – who and why?

Venetian Masks

A Venetian Mask

Finally after about an hour of walking we arrive at St Mark’s square, and the Basilica di San Marco. This is without doubt the busiest tourist spot I’ve ever visited. Literally hordes of people swarming all over the place mean taking a photo without 100 japanese tourists or schoolchildren in it is impossible.

Unless you want photos of random tourists, you are stuck taking detail shots. I took loads, and rejected them all except this one, which I find oddly appealing.

Lion at the Basilica San Marco

Once we’ve hit St Mark’s square, and toured the Basilica (which sadly doesn’t allow photography, but is an incredible place), we simply strike out in one direction and see where it takes us. I fire off a huge number of photographs, and my beautiful wife remains patient throughout.

Bridge Scene,  Venice

Mooring posts,  Venice Grand Canal

Bridge Scene,  Venice

For our first evening meal, we decide to eat on the grand canal, but it’s a total washout both literally (due to the pouring rain) and figuratively, due to the average food and service and more absurd Venice pricing.

Day two dawns and it’s raining – we eat breakfast and as luck would have it, by the time we head out it’s stopped raining. This would not remain the case as it rained on and off all day, and we got quite simply drenched to the bone.

St Mark’s square acts like a magnet as foot traffic all seems to flow in that direction – we find ourselves there again in one of the dry periods we are able to stop for a drink. This is what a 12.50 euro bottle of Guiness looks like, backed with the Palazzo Ducale.

12.5 euro for a bottle of Guiness!

The rain finally lets up and we enjoy an evening walking around a drying city. I proceed to take a bunch of long exposure photos whilst Abby stands patiently by waiting for me.

The Grand Canal Venice, by night

The Grand Canal Venice, by night

The Grand Canal Venice, by night

For the rest of the holiday it’s more of the same, which is nothing to complain about. On the last day, the weather holds and is warm, we eat our most delicious meal within inches of the Grand Canal resisting the temptation to dip our feet in.

We walk for miles, taking in as much of the city as we can, and stopping for a few cheesy photos on the way.

On the Ponte di Rialto, Venice

A bridge, Venice

Eventually though we run out of time, so another Water Taxi takes us back to the airport.

Leaving Venice, James Bond style

At the airport we experience the most dreadful check in experience imaginable, waiting almost 4 hours to get checked in. Since we’re stood in a queue for half this time, it’s worse still than our 5 hours at Bristol Airport but with the blessed relief being that the flight isn’t canceled this time.

My final thoughts on Venice – it’s well worth a trip, but expect to spend a fortune. A meal for two with a couple of drinks will probably set you back 100 euro. Drinks vary between 5 and 15 euro each.

But when the dust settles it’s totally worth it making memories that will last a lifetime.