Since last fall, we had planned on taking a trip somewhere in February. You see, February 4th was our 10-year anniversary as a couple (married for almost 5), and combine that with Valentine’s Day, a short vacation seemed like a good idea. We struggled with where to go, though. A variety of locations were suggested, until I stumbled on 1 magic word. That word convinced me where to go, and when I first broached the subject with Roxy, she liked the idea of Venice (we’d been wanting to go for a while), but wasn’t sure if this was the best time of year. It was then that I pulled out the magic word: “Carnival”. She was in.
Little did we know when we booked the trip that Europe would end up experiencing a massive cold-spell. Our first day in Venice was sunny, and we even took off our gloves and hats for a bit. It was to be short-lived, though. The next few days were dark and cold. We rented a small apartment 2 minutes walk from the Rialto bridge, and while it was cute (and right on the canal), the 2 small radiators just could not cope with the cold. We ended up putting 7 blankets on the bed to keep warm at night. After the 2nd day, we took to boiling water on the stove when we were there just to warm the place up. The cold marble floor became my mortal enemy every morning when getting out of bed, while I sprinted into the kitchen to turn on the stove.
Nevertheless, Venice is a beautiful city. Beautiful in decay. Italy itself is interesting, as it seems to exist in 2 extremes. When I think of Italy, I think of old buildings, their plaster crumbling in the sun. Old roads made of stone that have existed for centuries. Then I think of their modern cars and fashion. Everything in Italy is either very old, or very new.
Among the things we did in Venice: Eat lots of Gelato (naturally), drink lots of Prosecco (it kept the cold away!), see lots of folks in full Carnival attire, visit the glass-making island of Murano, take a gondola ride, ride a traghetto (it’s a gondola, but with all the seats removed. You stand, and the ride lasts only 2-3 minutes, as they are used to ferry you from one side of the Grand Canal to the other, in places where there aren’t any bridges.), and walk.
One of my favorite things to do when visiting a city is to just wander around. Plan on getting lost. Get out of the tourist areas, and walk among the locals (though, there aren’t many non-tourist areas of Venice, nor are there many locals). Venice is perfect for getting lost, as it’s almost impossible to keep track of where you are via a map. We got lost several times, but always managed to find our way back.
While the cold definitely put a damper on our trip, ultimately I enjoyed Venice. It’s not tops on my list of places to go again, but I would. It’s a unique city, and one of the places that, if I didn’t get to visit while living in Europe, I would feel that I missed out on an essential experience.