Venice – It Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time
The last stop on my round the world trip before coming home to Freiburg was Venice, Italy. It was February, and the cold weather we’re experiencing in Germany right now reminded me that I never wrote about that cold trip to Venice. Italy is one of those places I always think of as warm, even though they obviously experience winter weather too, especially in the northern part of the country.
The birth of a bad idea
When I was planning the end of my trip, two friends of mine in Atlanta told me they were getting married in February, about a week after I was hoping to fly back to Germany. Obviously I decided to stay for the wedding. At which point Andy realized I’d be flying back in time to catch the last few days of Carnivale in Venice, so I booked a flight to Milan. Andy met me at the airport, and we took the train from there.
Getting lost in Venice
The streets of Venice are small and winding, and often confusing. Since it’s all pedestrian traffic, I guess it doesn’t need to be as clear as normal streets, but it sure would be helpful. Andy had the address of our hotel plus a map he printed out, and it should’ve been fairly easy, but we still managed to get lost. It was cold, raining on and off, and I was exhausted from my overnight flight. What should’ve taken 20 minutes from the train station took us an hour and a half of wandering around. Even calling the hotel a few times didn’t help much, and every single shop keeper we asked pointed us in a different direction. I was so happy when we finally found it.
Crowds and Carnivale costumes
I don’t actually remember much from the two days we spent there. I was fighting jet lag and could barely function. I napped while Andy went in search of good photo opportunities. When I did walk around with him, the crowds really got to me. I’m normally not a crowd person anyway, but jet lag made it worse. Carnivale is a hectic time in Venice, although I did enjoy seeing some of the fancy costumes people were wearing.
It isn’t Venice without a gondola
We ate lots of delicious pasta, and one not-so-delicious pizza. We did lots of people watching since there’s no better time for it than when the city is full of people wearing elaborate costumes. We decided we didn’t need an expensive gondola ride (I rode in one when I was 16) but we did take lots of pictures of them. Gondolas are synonymous with Venice, and they might be touristy, but I love seeing them in the canals. No matter how many other cities claim to be “the Venice of…” there is only one true city of canals.
We still love you, Italy
In the end we decided to do our best not to travel to events that attract such large hoards of people. Also, trying to cram in a two day trip when one of us is exhausted from a long international flight isn’t something we’ll be doing again. And I hate being cold, so I’m not sure what we were thinking traveling to a cold place where we needed to be outside to see the city. So maybe this trip wasn’t the best idea. But Italy is one of our favorite countries, and we will certainly return many more times.
November 15, 2012 @ 9:37 AM
Oh wow sorry you had a bad experience in Venice. I spent 3 days there (that’s all my budget would allow) and loved it. I found my hostel easily though & then purposely got lost while I was exploring it. I fell in love… it’s so cute and just loved the canals and bridges all over. I loved the lil yard I would come across and the gondolas. Venice is a city though I wanna return only when I have money. I was eating lots of 3euro pizza to try and stay in budget…lol!!!
November 15, 2012 @ 3:40 PM
We’ve both been to Venice before, and we do like the city, it was just bad timing. Cold weather + crowds + jet lag = a cranky Ali 🙂 We’ll definitely go again, maybe in spring or fall next time, and not during some big event.
November 15, 2012 @ 1:54 PM
Very interesting to read this, mainly because I’ve always wanted to go to Carnivale and also because I visited Venice for the second time this summer (the first was when I was much younger) and the crowds really got to me. I guess it was because it was peak summer season, but if this trip has taught me anything it’s that I don’t like over-touristed and over-crowded places anymore, even if they are as pretty as Venice. I’m sure I’ll be back again, but will have to brave the cold of winter to avoid the crowds!
November 15, 2012 @ 3:41 PM
The huge crowds bother me more than I ever thought they would, so being there during Carnivale was too much. I thought it sounded like a fun time to go, but I realized once we got there that it wasn’t my thing. I do like the city though, I just need better timing!
November 15, 2012 @ 6:57 PM
I’m not much of a crowd person either and there is no way I’d conceive of doing a two day trip to Venice coming off of a plane trip from Australia so I take my hat off to you for at least trying.
That said you could have gone to Venice now and got totally flooded out. They have about three feet of water at the moment in places that typically get none.
All that said, at the end of the day consider it a lesson learned albeit the hard way. And they say that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and I’ll add better for the experience too.
November 16, 2012 @ 3:28 PM
Thanks Matthew! Yeah, I saw those pictures of Venice flooded, that’s crazy! I definitely learned my lesson, no more super fast trips when getting off a long haul flight, no more super crowded destinations/events. Bad timing all around on this one.
November 16, 2012 @ 12:56 PM
It seems like it was just a wrong timing for you to choose Venice. I’ve never thought of visiting it as I expected to hate it and quite the opposite happened. I was there twice and wouldn’t mind going back. But definitely not during the carnival, judging by your pictures! there’re crowds there every time of the year I guess but during the carnival it must be insane! what I found funny there was that once I steped into one of the backstreets I was completely on my own as people seemed to follow only the main routes. and these backstreets and backcanals were really adorable and the best what Venice had to offer. Maybe you can go there some other time again and give Venice a second chance?!
November 16, 2012 @ 3:31 PM
Thanks Kami! You’re completely right, bad timing. It was actually my second time in Venice, and I remember enjoying it back then. I imagine we’ll end up back in Venice at some point, and we’ll just have to time it better. Carnivale was definitely not our thing! I’d like to go back again when it’s a little warmer, but not during summer, and wander through the backstreets like you said. Such an interesting city!
November 17, 2012 @ 5:26 AM
Crowds are evil and not for me either. Slightly off peak is a good trade off. Not too cold and not too many people. It would have been nightmarish to be trampled by people in weird costumes! Doesn’t bear thinking about.
November 17, 2012 @ 8:15 PM
I’m glad it’s not just me Jan! Next time I’ll push for us to go in April or October or something.
November 17, 2012 @ 7:59 AM
Perhaps you can visit again sometime to get a better feel of the place – when the time is right. If i had been there when all those people were in costumes, I would have been right in their faces with my camera. What an opportunity!
November 17, 2012 @ 8:16 PM
Definitely. I know it wasn’t anything against the city itself. I remember enjoying being there when I was in high school, and I still think it’s a great city. But better timing next time we go to Venice. The costumes were very interesting, and very elaborate!
November 17, 2012 @ 10:31 AM
Venice during Carnevale is definitely not for everyone! On a weekend, it is generally crowded beyond belief and you can feel like you are in a human stampede. But seeing the amazing, elaborate costumes makes fighting the crowd worth it!
November 17, 2012 @ 8:18 PM
The costumes were certainly interesting and entertaining. I’ll have to go back to Venice another time when there aren’t any big events going on, and I’ll take your advice and avoid the weekends.
November 17, 2012 @ 11:00 AM
The big key with Venice — a city I love and have been to a half-dozen times — is to just stay away from the St. Marks Square area. It seems that about 85% of the tourist just hang out within a few blocks of that. Wandering around some of the other parts of town, you can completely avoid the crowds and have a fabulous time. Its also well worth your time to hit some of the other islands in the area via the public transport boats. Again, far fewer crowds.
November 17, 2012 @ 8:20 PM
I would love to go to some of the other islands, but we were only there for 2 days. We’ll definitely be back, Italy is such a great country, and Venice is only about 10 hours away on the train. We’ll have to time it better next time and make sure we’re there long enough to really explore and get away from the crowds.
November 17, 2012 @ 6:09 PM
What an awesome time to visit! I’d love to go back to Venice
November 17, 2012 @ 8:25 PM
Maybe awesome if you like crowds. I’d love to go back another time when it’s less crowded!
Tom @ Waegook Tom
November 18, 2012 @ 12:24 PM
Whomp whomp whoooooommmmp! Ahh I know that feeling. Crowds bug me at the best of times, I’m not sure what’d happen if I was subject to a huge crowd after an international flight…I’d probably wind up in jail. Kudos for not killing anyone!
November 18, 2012 @ 12:51 PM
HA! Thanks Tom! I’m more likely to collapse in a pile of tears in these situations, especially when jet lag is involved. I’ll definitely plan differently next time.
Jade - OurOyster.com
November 19, 2012 @ 12:32 AM
Ick crowds – I would love to see the carnivale costumes, but im not sure I could put up with the crowds either
November 20, 2012 @ 4:26 PM
I’m sure it would’ve been a little easier without the jet lag, and sticking to smaller streets instead of the main square probably would’ve helped too.
November 20, 2012 @ 12:09 PM
I’m sorry your trip wasn’t that great. You’re pictures do still look inviting though!
I’ve also been wanting to go to Venice but some time, but I keep most of my travelling for warmer periods. Well, at least for those countries that should have nicer weather in spring/summer than in winter:-)
I’m also not a fan of big crowds. They didn’t used to bother me, but I’m guessing I’m growing old:D
I like a good buzz by having people around, but I hate drumming, bumping into people and not being able to see 2 meters in front of me.
I’m still curious about the Carnivale though:-)
November 20, 2012 @ 4:55 PM
I’m glad I got to see a little bit of what Carnivale was like, but I just need to remember I’m not a crowd person. Venice is definitely worth a trip, but yes, maybe when it’s warmer!
November 21, 2012 @ 3:20 AM
Very cool pictures! The closest I’ve come to a true gondola ride was in Las Vegas! Lol! Venice looks way more appealing. BTW, I hatebeing cold too! It absolutely takes away any chance of me really having fun.
November 21, 2012 @ 11:51 AM
Thanks Michaela! I hope you make it to the real Venice one of these days, but go when it’s warmer!