Blue marks the paths that we walked on foot; red indicates the water bus rides that we took
Beijing and New York are two of my favorite cities in the world, due in large part to their logical street layouts that defined neighborhoods clearly and moved people around efficiently. Venice can’t be more different from that. In fact, on paper, it’s everything I would hate for a city to be: (1) being comprised of 117 irregularly shaped islands meant that it could accommodate nothing large scale; (2) a very high bridges-to-roads ratio, therefore probably very high infrastructure maintenance cost; (3) roads are crooked and very narrow, so nobody can go anywhere fast; (4) even the Grand Canal goes in an S shape, so traveling by boat also takes forever.
I had to buy milk for the kiddos a few times. The nearest grocery store was merely 0.3 miles from the hotel, but getting there involved 12 turns and 2 bridge crossings. I pride myself for having a great sense of direction, but still took some wrong turns getting there and back, every single time.
Yet, in an absolutely strange way, I really liked Venice.
View in front of Venezia Santa Lucia (the train station). We had to abandon all land transportation in order to enter this city.
The Grand Canal
Hong and I had been to Venice of the East and Venice of the North. They both had some canals and some boats, but they weren’t anything like the real City of Water. In a way, it was quite neat that this city was so unaccommodating of cars, that we were confined to ways of travel (other than the water bus) not unlike how Venetians got around in the past 1,000 years.
Grand Canal at sunset
Gondola on Grand Canal
Ponte dell’Accademia was one of the only four bridges crossing the Grand Canal
This means that you could live literally a stone’s throw from work, but still have a 30-minute commute because you have to make a huge detour to find a bridge
It makes sense that when your city has so much water, you don’t want to waste the precious land on roads. But the pathways in Venice are seriously narrow. Like, a fire lane somewhere else can be wider than a main street here. In some alleys it’s impossible to pass another person, and on my milk runs it could be frustrating being stuck behind wandering tourists (yeah yeah, I know I was one myself).
Following other tourists on the way to Rialto Bridge
In America, this would be the textbook example of the kind of road (and time of day) to never enter
Exposed-brick walls may mean character, but when two of them are 4 feet apart it could be claustrophobic and scary
It’s not unusual to run into these dead ends in Venice
Hong’s dad studying a newly acquired map
We didn’t experience the boat rides on the smaller canals, understandably missing out on a big part of transportation in Venice. Sure, it would’ve been nice to try a romantic gondola ride. But we thought about potentially dealing with a meltdown baby doing back flips on a small boat, and was at ease with our decision to stick to walking.
I was highly intrigued by these doors leading into the water
Ezio & I
Critics used to accuse Fast and Furious for inciting its viewers to drive recklessly on public roads and cause accidents. I wonder if anyone has said the same about the Assassin’s Creed 2 franchise leading its gamers to commit suicidal stunts in these old Italian cities.
This is Assassin’s Creed 2
While holding down R1 and X, I’ve instructed Ezio to climb plenty of windows and ledges, as well as jumping on rooftops
This was the view from our 4th floor hotel window
Not gonna lie. I had the urge to leap out of the window for some morning exercise. The video game had trained my eyes to focus on the most easily climbable parts of the building. But yeah, knowing myself, I’d simply fall and die, on the 3rd floor balcony right outside our window. If I were a mountain-climbing parkour ninja warrior, though, perhaps I could have freerun on these rooftops to fetch milk. Wouldn’t have needed to make those 12 stupid turns.
When the girl you hit off with at the bar leaves you with an address at 5950 Brick Lane…
A cafe near our hotel marked on its wall the “high water” records
Venice gets occasional floods that cover up the roads and stuff. It’s supposedly getting worse
This big church in Murano apparently didn’t believe in windows
The best winged lion statue in the city
Mom taking pictures of the Grand Canal
Chilling outside Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
The kids loved the water
Me & Dad
The technique involving the Original Selfie Stick (arm) is often quite good at blocking whatever it was we were trying to take a selfie with
I love McDonald’s. But I really love the McDonald’s in Venice because it was hilarious. We didn’t even go.
There was a single McDonald’s in the entire Venice (and yes I did know where it was as that was part of my pre-trip research). It was the official sponsor of all garbage cans in the city. Every time you toss some gelato napkins away, you are reminded of how you sort of crave some McFries. And worry not! The helpful trash receptacle has a map that will show you exactly how to get to the one and only McDonalds! I kid you not…
From Ferrovia, you gotta travel northeast for 10 minutes on foot
From S. Zaccaria, you’d be walking northwest for 13 minutes
Or you can take vapporetti lines 1 or 2 to CA D’Oro station
This was hilarious on so many levels, the least of which being McDonald’s attempting to attract business from halfway across the city. I wouldn’t be surprised that some tourist (omg, could be myself one day) seriously look at this and say, “oh I gotta get me some of that nuggets… 10 minutes isn’t bad”. Then the said tourist proceeds to find the golden arches, only to end up in the completely opposite corner of Venice 20 minutes later, because the roads are so freaking confusing.
I really liked Venice because it was such a unique city. The main complaint on travel sites is that this place is constantly overrun with tourists and “feels like Disneyland”. Frankly, I do love Disneyland as well. I think part of the charm here was that things were so densely packed together and visibility was so limited on those narrow streets, you could come across something completely new and surprising every few steps. That made aimlessly roaming around so fun.