So I went on my first visit to another country in Europe. When I left London it was quite rainy, although that's what I've come to expect. I boarded a plane with the destination of Venice, Italy. I think it really began to hit me as to where I was going when the flight safety instructions came on and they were in Italian. The flight was really short, only about two hours and I passed the time sleeping and listening to music.
After we touched down we had to figure out how to use the bus system to get to our hostel. The hostel we booked gave us directions, but they weren't very clear and we ended up getting off at the island mistakenly. Fortunately, the Italians were very nice in directing us where we actually needed to go.
We woke up pretty early to catch a bus to the island to try to go to mass at St. Marks Basilica. When we got off the bus on the island in the daylight we realized it was going to be pretty difficult to get around. There are no cars allowed in Venice, you can only get around by foot, waterbus, or gondola. We took out the map and started walking generally towards where we were supposed to go. It's safe to say we got pretty lost but I'm very happy we did. There are some streets in Venice that are super touristy and full of people trying to sell you things but it's the back roads where people actually live that are the most exquisite. Every little piece of Venice is more beautiful than the last. The roads are winding, the flower boxes in the windows are overflowing, laundry is strung from the windows, and dead ends just make you laugh because usually it's just the canal. There are bridges everywhere and you can't help but stop and stare down each one at the beautiful scenery and gondolas floating below.
We eventually made it to San Marcos Square, which is a huge open square with St. Marks Basilica at one end. It truly is a gorgeous building, unfortunately there was some construction going on, so we couldn't really get the full view. We got inside for a later mass. After visiting Westminster Abbey in London I knew that worship at these famous churches is free but otherwise you have to pay to go in for a tour. The service was all in Italian and I'm pretty sure the only parts I recognized were the creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the priest said family at some point during the service. Italian is a beautiful language to hear spoken so it was fine to just listen to it and stare in awe at the architecture of the building.
After mass we went to find something to eat, and decided to get lost again to find a less touristy area in hopes of a cheaper meal. We found a place and I got spaghetti and tomato sauce. It was good but not the delicious Italian I was expecting, but I've heard Venice is not known for having the most traditional food. We continued to walk and explore some other churches and stopped to watch street performers. Being adults we decided to have wine and gelato for dinner and it was the best choice. The gelato is to die for. I got one cone of chocolate and one of strawberry. They just taste so real and not full of artificial flavors. The wine I got from a convenience store was in a carton, like an adult juice box, and I thought that was really funny. We walked back to St. Marks Basilica and listened to the bands play at the outdoor restaurants in the square. Vendors were selling these light up sticks that you sling shotted in the air and then they twirled down. It was beautiful to watch them light up all across the square. We found our way back to the bus station and back to our hostel and went to sleep straight away because we were exhausted from walking around all day.
The next day we woke up and got some baguettes and snacks from a local market before heading out to the island. We decided to visit two smaller islands off of Venice. We had to take a waterbus there, which was a cool experience. We went to Murano first which is known for its glass blowing. We went in tons of shops that sold the most beautiful glass jewelry, figurines, and plates and cups. I didn't end up buying any and I kind of regret that. Then we found a factory that showed you the men doing the glass blowing. We got to watch them make a turtle and it was so cool to learn about the process. Glass blowing in Murano is not taught in a school but instead it is passed down and taught through families, which is very interesting.
Then we got on another waterbus to go to Burano, which is what I was looking forward to as I had seen beautiful pictures of it, and it did not disappoint. Burano is a fishing village and all of the houses are painted bright sherbet like colors, it looks magical. On Burano they also specialize in making lace so we saw a lot of that in the local shops.
We went back to the main island and found a restaurant where we sat outside and I had a fungi (mushroom) pizza and it was delicious. I also had a spritz which is an island favorite made by mixing prosecco, a bitter liquor, and soda water. It was so good. After that we found another gelato place called Grom that my cousin Olivia who studied all last year in Italy recommended to me. I got chocolate and vanilla and it was delicious again. We found a place to sit and enjoyed our last night in Venice.
While walking back to the bus stop we tried to take in all of the canals for the last time. On the walk back I regretted not having bought a souvenir so I popped into a shop and got a Venetian mask, they have them everywhere because of the tradition of Carnivàle. The one I got just covers the eyes and was hand painted in Venice. I really like it. We woke up the next morning and headed for the airport. I bought a bottle of spritz to take back with me. Venice could not have been a more perfect first trip. It was incredible to just be able to walk around and explore such a beautiful place. Definitely going to be hard to beat.