A Little Venetian Magic

Venice.

What can I say about Venice that hasn't already been said?

It's magical, beautiful, spell-binding...

Crowded, over-priced, confusing.

Yes. All of the above. But, even with the crowds and the twisty-turny alleyways, this place is unlike any other.

Venice was a little bit different than the rest of the stops on my solo trip, in that I'd been there once before. A few years back, I made this trip with a former friend, and we spent about a week here. I almost took it off my itinerary for this reason--why spend some of my precious days in a place I'd already been, right?

Except that it's Venice, guys. And you can't so no to Venice. I mean, look at it:

 The Santa Maria Della Salute, the Rialto Bridge, and views of the Grand Canal.

The Santa Maria Della Salute, the Rialto Bridge, and views of the Grand Canal.

When I stepped out of the train station in Venice on a sunny (yet chilly) day in October, it was a lot like visiting an old friend. The smell of water, the bustle of crowds, the beckoning calls of street vendors trying to sell you selfie sticks.

Okay, that last one may be new.

I fired up my Google maps and put in the address for my hostel. Handy tip for anyone who's planning to visit Venice someday: Google maps is basically useless. I don't know if it was the tall buildings or the never-ending alleys, but I spent over an hour hoofing it through the city before I finally found my hostel. Once there, I got settled and went out to explore. First step: find the Rialto bridge. According to the reviews of my hostel, it was five minutes away. As a main tourist attraction, I knew that it should be fairly easy to find. And if I could find the Rialto bridge, I could find my hostel. Pretty strong logic, eh?

Later, when I returned to my hostel, I met one of my roommates. A lovely woman named Karin from Vienna. We chatted for a while as she uploaded her pictures to her computer from the day, and then she said she was about to head out to explore Venice at night. Well...yeah, I wanted in on that! So, I asked her if I could join, and she was kind enough to let me.

Venice at night, guys...

 Glowing canals, eerie angels, and a nearly-empty San Marco. This side of Venice is a side not to be missed!

Glowing canals, eerie angels, and a nearly-empty San Marco. This side of Venice is a side not to be missed!

It's hard to pinpoint my favorite part of my stay in Venice. Was it my trip to the outer islands? Burano, with its candy-colored buildings and irresistable charm. Murano, where the famed Venetian glass is made. Or Torcello...ancient, slightly spooky, completely gorgeous.

 From the top: Torcello, Murano, Burano.

From the top: Torcello, Murano, Burano.

Or my visit to the astoundingly chaotic Libreria Acqua Alta? This place, guys. It was amazing. Books everywhere. Overflowing from bathtubs and shelves, and even a gondola. In the back, it opened up to a canal on one side. The other, a staircase made of books. A staircase! Made of BOOKS! Seriously, a writer/reader paradise!

While all those things were incredible, I think the prize for my favorite moment in Venice goes to the last morning I was there. I woke up before sunrise and walked down to San Marco. It was nearly empty, and the sun was slowly coming up. It is a rare thing to find this place empty--it's one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. And, yes, it is still astounding while filled with people, but empty...there is nothing like it:

This quickly became my favorite moment of my entire trip (well, until Sorrento, but that'll come later). Standing alone in a place like this...there are no words.

The walk back to my hostel was filled with all kinds of gorgeous, too:

Other highlights from Venice:

Watching a group of pigeons fight over a slice of pizza in San Marco--I swear, one bird picked up the entire slice and tried to fly away. That bird was my spirit animal. 

Hot chocolate at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Dinner beside a canal in Murano--salmon gnocchi, in case you were wondering.

Spotting a jellyfish in the water off Torcello. No, seriously. Check it out:

All in all, I absolutely did not regret revisiting Venice. Pretty sure it's impossible to regret spending time in a place this enchanting. Leaving was bittersweet, but I couldn't be too sad--my next stop was Florence!