Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dreams Come True in Venice

Gondola ride along Venice's Grand Canal

I first visited Venice when I was almost 20 years old. Back then, I left with two regrets. I never rode in a gondola, and we took a daytrip from the mainland instead of actually staying in Venice. There was also a garbage collector strike going on which lent a rather rubbishy aroma drifting around the famous canals. Upon my return to this watery city — older and with more money to spend — I was determined to not walk away a second time thinking of what might have been.

Dream Come True #1: Gondola Ride

Riding a gondola is the quintessential Venetian experience. We floated along as the gondolier propelled the boat through the narrow waterways between the buildings. Some were so small that they were deemed one-direction-only since it would have been impossible to pass another gondola in that tight space. I was impressed by our gondoliers ability to crouch down and not bang his head whenever we went under one of Venice's many bridges. Bursting out into the bustling Grand Canal, the onslaught of crowded vaporettos, speed boats and other gondolas really emphasized that water was the way to get around. Everyone was doing it.

The official rate for a 40-minute ride between 8AM-7PM is €80 for up to 6 people. After 7PM, it is €100. Since there were 5 of us, the daytime price was not too bad per person for a bucket list item. While our guide book suggested that we chat with a few gondoliers to determine if the route was what we wanted and if he would be giving commentary, we threw caution to the wind since it was 10 minutes until the price increased. That's how we ended up with a gondolier who spent most of the time exclaiming loudly in Italian into his mobile phone or shouting across to his buddies on other boats.


Dream Come True #2: An Apartment overlooking a Canal

Our apartment window is just above the greenery spilling forth towards the canal

Whenever I look at this picture, I will sigh in happiness and remember the dream-come-true apartment we rented in Venice. The windows of the living room and kitchen are just above the greenery spilling over the wall. A canal and gondala sit below it. If we left the windows open, we could hear the gondolier singing to entice new customers to hire him. Flower boxes line the railing next to the sidewalk cafe where my kids are sitting and eating breakfast on the left. At night, the voices of other patrons wafted upwards reminding us how alive this city is even after dark. La Mela Verde, one of the best gelaterias in Venice, is located next to the cafe along with a costume shop that will have you dreaming of Carnevale. Since it was just 5 minutes from St. Mark's Square, it was convenient to go back in the afternoons and rest before continuing our explorations at dinner time. 

Take a look at this view from the apartment.

The view from our window: San Giorgio dei Greci church at blue hour

This iPhone photo has had absolutely zero editing other than adding a frame and watermark. As day turned into night, the white stone of San Giorgio dei Greci church took on the cobalt hue of the surrounding sky. It was the blue hour at its finest. 

While I claim that this place was simply dreamy, hubby would like to point out that the lack of elevator and the 41 steps from the street to the apartment made carrying up four 23 kg (50 lb) suitcases a nightmare. Pardon our excessive luggage. We're in the midst of moving from one continent to another. 

Have you ever departed a destination with regrets? 

Did you have a chance for a Do-Over?


I'm so glad I got a second chance.

Related Post:
Explore Venice by Boat

This post is part of the following linkups. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.

31 comments:

  1. There is something truly magical about Venice isn't there? Great post! :)

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  2. Oh I love this! I just had my second Germany experience and I was thrilled to understand and speak more rather than be a shy 15 year old, I'm a more mature 38 year old ;) thanks for sharing and again good luck with the move x

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  3. So so so jealous right now. I am trying to work out a way to get hubby to agree to a trip to Venice!

    I went as a 21 year old on a Contiki tour and also stayed on the mainland. I did do the gondola ride but I think I would appreciate it more now. I love your apartment!

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  4. I love Venice. We stayed at the Danieli, and spent three days admiring all the sites.

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  5. There are so many places that I have on my bucket list to see the first time, that I can only hope to return again someday. Our trip to Italy didn't include Venice and now I can't wait to go there and see this beautiful blue hour too.

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  6. Venice for sure is magical and wow that apartment is amazing.

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  7. I can go back to Venice again and again, so much to see, amazing vistas and photo opportunities, but I like visit this place off season to avoid all the crazy crowds.

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  8. I have the exact same regret. After years of visiting Italy and ignoring Venice, we finally went a few months ago. I actually loved the city so much more than I expected to (I thought it would be touristy and tacky, when in fact it was quite beautiful). But hubby was not interested in taking a gondola ride, so we too, left without the experience and while I'm comfortable with reducing my expectations when I travel, I do regret that decision. So glad you got to go back and fulfill your wish. Lovely photos, as well!

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  9. I love Venice!! It's definitely a city full of charms. I've had destinations that I wish I had do-overs in (Singapore, for one) and I've had destinations that completely changed for me once I really got to know them. But Venice... I loved it from the start. :)

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  10. I once dragged an oversized luggage that was heavier than me, through the subways of Tokyo and up many flights of stairs, but it was worth it! I'm glad you got to have a redo with Venice. Overall I've been quite happy with what I did on my trips, but because I did most of my travels before I acquired my photography skills, I wish I could do over most of them! Have a blast in Europe!

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  11. I can't wait to go to Venice. That apartment looks amazing! I'm definitely going to check it out since I haven't even looked at accommodations for our future trip to Italy yet.

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  12. Glad you got your do-over!! Love the photo of the gondola ride from a rider's perspective :)

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  13. Wow, that apartment sounds STUNNING! The picture with the canal in the foreground looks like it could have been taken straight from a travel agent's brochure! Can't believe you actually got to stay there, that's so good!

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  14. That apartment looks amazing! Glad you got to go back and do the things you missed first time around - it doesn't always happen but it's great when it does!

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  15. Hi Michelle, happy for you that you made your dreams come true this time around.
    Venice is actually a place I need to do over. I enjoyed all the romantic stuff of Venice - riding the gondola, staying by the canal, watching its beautiful sunset, etc.The problem was I did all of it with my best friend and not a romantic partner. My dream is to return and experience the city with Keith. We didn't make it to Venice when we traveled to Italy due to last minute itinerary change but it will happen.
    Absolutley love your Iphone shot and the silhouette shot of the gondolier.

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  16. One of the happiest moments of my life was speeding down the canals of venice in a vaporetto. the most overpriced taxi ride in my life but so worth it. there is nothing like Venice.

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  17. Yay hurray for achieving dreams. That apartment sounds so so lovely and that picture is exactly how I imagine Venice to be. One day I'll visit (and with more money, not as a broke student!).

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  18. Love the position of the apartment you rented. How wonderful. Your pictures have brought back lovely memories of our recent visited - but I would have liked to stay for longer as you evidently did.

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  19. Wow! You did make up for what you missed 20 years back. I want the same view as you! ;-)

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  20. Venice is so magical, if I get a chance I would go right away. Love the view from your apartment.

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  21. Michele, I love that you found a great apartment...although 41 steps...ouch! What continent are you moving to? Europe? Tell us more!

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  22. Hi Michele. Sorry, I'm so slow getting around this week. Trying to adjust to the tropical heat here in Penang has made me slower than usual...haha.

    I've been to Venice 3 times, and I was very young. Would love to go back now, with more money in my pocket. I do remember our gondolier ride, and it was before the day of cell phones. However, it was still pricey! The view from your apartment looks amazing, and when I go back an apartment on a canal is a must!

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  23. A Gondola ride in Venice is also on my bucket list, Michele! Are there lots of city lights for the nighttime ride? That's a bummer that the gondolier didn't give a nice tour commentary. That would have frustrated me. The apartment you rented with that view rocks! I would love to do that too! I love the blue hour photo. It's nice to have you and your family back in the States :)

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  24. I've visited places where I've had super little time to explore, thus leaving with a feeling of "I need to get back there!" Plus I think that when you visit places at different points in your life you have very different experiences...I remember visiting Vegas with 7 girlfriends when we were in our early 20's and broke and all sharing one room (ahh!), and that was completely different than when going with my husband in my 30s!

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  25. I'm so glad you returned to Venice as a richer and wiser adult and achieved these dreams. My husband and I were in Venice a few years ago but didn't go on the gondola or have a place overlooking the canal. We knew we wanted to go back and take the kids and then we can do the gondola ride. Love these beautiful photos! I hope you're transitioning well to life back in the US.

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  26. I have been living in Italy for almost 6 and a half years and I have never been in a gondola. I love that both of these dreams came true for you and the view from your apartment is absolutely stunning. And thank you for sharing a bit about the apartment....I may actually consider booking it!

    Angie from reasons to dress, fashion, real mom street style & life as a North American mom in Italy.

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  27. Venice is lovely and indeed, dreams do come true there. Just being there is a dream come true.

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  28. gorgeous! those are still my dreams, but they have yet to come true. yet. my paris dreams came true in april, so i know more adventures await.
    b

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  29. Excellent choice for a vacation, congrats! Venice has a lot to offer.

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