Today was our day trip from Verona to Venice. We walked to the train station. The train ride was just over an hour, and the train was the perfect opportunity to nap for a bit. Once you exit the station in Venice, the first thing you notice is the smell of salt water and view of the sea and canals. We used a water taxi to travel to the gondola station. The wind made standing outside a struggle, but the buildings and canals were too beautiful to be sitting inside. Every now and then, the boat would crash into a wave and splash my face with water. At the gondola station, we split into groups again. Our group settled in and then quickly got yelled at for moving around in the gondola. We started taking pictures and selfies in the sea. When we made the turn into a canal, we saw the stereotypical Venice views. Going under bridges, passing other gondolas, and barely being able to make tight turns was an amazing experience. We almost witnessed disaster when a friend in another gondola stood up and nearly tipped the boat over. The gondola driver berated him with “stupido” and some pretty obvious hand gestures. After the gondolas, we really noticed how windy and cold it was. We had free time for lunch. The lunch ended up being much more expensive than we wanted because of expensive water and a cover charge. Given that the area is a tourist-filled part of Venice, this was not a major surprise. We started walking into a beautiful square. At the far end was a beautiful gothic church with freezes at the top. The decorations took over 500 years. Somehow, the sea of pigeons that we had to walk through did not take away from the experience.
At this point, we began the guided tour. We got to exit the tourist part of Venice and enter parts of the city with a hidden beauty. It is always surprising when you see a hotel entrance on the water. There are also many old wells that have been boarded up and are essentially statues now in small squares. The windows of most buildings have planters filled with colorful, vibrant flowers. Further into the tour, we began to see slightly dilapidated buildings that have a timeless feeling. They emphasize the pastel colors of other buildings. Part of the beauty of Venice is exploring small alleys and admiring the brickwork, statues, and any other small details. On the way back to the train station, we wandered through a more residential part of Venice and got to see how locals live. One detail from the tour is that the population of Venice is shrinking because the cost of living is rising. There are only a handful of grocery stores available for residents. The train ride on the way back was just as quiet and restful. For dinner, I enjoyed another McDonald’s delicacy, the fillet o’ fish.