— travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams —

travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams



This waterlocked Italian city is every bit as pretty as it promises to be. When we stepped off Santa Lucia train station, we were immediately greeted by the sight of colorful old buildings, bridges, boats, birds, and the fabled Grand Canal. And tourists, of course. There are so many of them, one can’t help but wonder where the real Venetians are.


My sister and I were staying in the Lido, a separate island, so the first thing we did was to purchase a 24-hour vaporetto (water bus) pass that would let us take as many boat rides as we wanted. Although cars and other land vehicles are allowed in the Lido, there are none in Venice itself, and every one gets around by walking or taking the vaporetto.

vaporetto travel pass
Vaporetto Pass – 2014 prices (

Our hotel, the Riviera Hotel Venice, was one of the most charming hotels we had ever stayed in. The lobby had the most gorgeous, ornate furniture. Our room on the second floor was cozy. Well, yes, that’s another word for small, but European hotels generally are, and our room was just enough for two people. It was tastefully decorated: pale pink wallpaper, floral moulding, gold chandelier, shabby chic closet.Β There was a wrought iron table and two chairs in the terrace, which was lush with flowers and vines and overlooked the Gran Viale.


Breakfast the next day was heavenly: cold cuts, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, fresh bread, butter, jam, pastries, fruits, cereal, milk, coffee, juice. And that’s not even a really exhaustive list. By midmorning, well-fed, we were ready for a day of getting lost in Venice.


And it’s easy: getting lost, literally, in Venice. They say it’s actually part of the experience. Often you don’t know where you are, and sometimes that’s a good thing.


We bought gelato and cookies to enjoy while we walked and looked around. Venice is renowned for its art and architecture; there are churches, museums, the famous Piazza San Marco. There were Carnival masks by the dozen and “Murano glass” made in China.


In the water, gondolas were tied to wooden posts, waiting to treat visitors to that quintessential Venetian experience…for upwards of 80 euros an hour. It must be said that none of the real Venetians ride gondolas anymore, except for the gondoliers themselves. They cut a striking figure as they glided along the canal in their striped black and white shirts, skillfully steering their richly decorated boats. This is the Venice the whole world knows and comes for.


What I really loved, though, were the everyday things. Colorful houses from another age, their white-framed windows accentuated by flowering plants. Walls with paint and plaster genuinely peeling off, revealing a base of faded red bricks. Small canals tucked between buildings, a bridge or two spanning the water. Narrow passageways with charming, occasionally confusing, little signs pointing the way to a well-known Venetian landmark.


Venice is best explored on foot, but one eventually gets tired from all the walking, so at some point we boarded the No. 2 water bus and enjoyed the sights from there. (The No. 1 line is even better for this purpose because of all the stops it makes on both sides of the Grand Canal.) When we had sat through the entire route, we got off at the San Marco stop, bought a cup of coffee, and sat down by the pier, enjoying the Venetian sunset. It was a good day.

Delightful Venice” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.


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42 Responses

  1. Houses from another age. That was one of my favorite things too. Minus the motorized boats, etc. you could easily imagine that the city looked pretty much the same hundreds of years ago. I don’t know why that’s so fascinating but.. yeah. Again, great post!

    1. You know, I’ve never thought of it that way, but, yes, I can picture it in my mind’s eye now, how it must have been in centuries past. It doesn’t take too much imagination because the structures themselves are already there, you just have to imagine people in the garb of those times. Thanks!

  2. Great tips and pictures, this has definitely helped me out, will be having a great time in Venice thanks to you πŸ™‚ Great writing!

  3. Venice is so easy to fall in love with. I would take walks away from the center of the city, and find myself in hidden parks away from the world. It was magical.

  4. Venice is the perfect city to get lost in. I was there a few years ago and got completely lost in the maze of alleys. But it was such a memorable experience stumbling upon all of those gorgeous old buildings!

  5. Beautiful photos. Now, did you notice all the locals running!?! I think they get behind tourists who are lollygagging, and then they’re late! πŸ™‚

    1. Haha! You know, I don’t think I even saw locals; I kept wondering if Venice even had locals because there were just tourists everywhere! It’s a bit better in winter but then there’s the fog to contend with. πŸ™‚ Still a great experience either way.

  6. A delightful piece on one of my all-time favorite cities. Some say it’s been loved to death, too many tourists, local folks have been driven out, it’s sinking, etc etc — but still Venice remains, elegant and lovely, the best place in the world to get lost. Thanks for the reminders.

    1. Thank you! I think it’s because Venice is so different from what most of us have back home, so we’re not just in a different place, we’re in a different life. And it has so many charming elements: color, water, bridges, flowers. Stuff that dreams are made of. Even its mortality, the fact that it’s sinking, is fascinating.

    1. Thank you! I think that’s the standard of a good destination: when people who have been there want to return. (And the ultimate standard, of course, is if you’ve just arrived and you’re already planning to return.) πŸ™‚

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