You might have already guessed it ... Esther and I were caught by the italian fever (-the Venetian fever to be exact.) About one and a half months ago the two of us met up at a coffeehouse in Vienna and decided to do something really adventurous and totally spontanious at the end of the year - (for those of you who don't know us that well, - we're not adventurous and definitely NOT spontanious, which is why we're so proud that we actually went through with our plan.) We quickly booked our transfer from Vienna to Venice, which was quite cheap as we got a great deal via Austrian Railways and also found a very nice hotel situated in Dorsoduro, a calm and charming district in the city. We both had been to Venice many times before, however it was my first visit during wintertime, and let me tell you,- it was wonderful!
Our journey started on December 17th at 10pm. We arrived in Venezia Mestre at 8am and gazed at the most gorgeous sunrise while crossing over the lagoon. After leaving our luggage at the hotel an hour later we were ready to explore the city.
With salty air in our noses and empty stomachs we suddenly found ourselves quite hungry and wandered into the next coffeehouse we found. The place we visited is called Tiziano and offers some yummy food and drinks! After enjoying one, two, .. seven snacks while observing the people passing by our window, we headed towards Piazzo San Marco, the main square of Venice where you can find the famous Campanile, Basilica di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale.
I've never been inside the basilica before and was truly amazed by the byzantine elegance of the building. Inside the church one can find an exhibition of the original sculptures that are now exchanged by replicas, such as the horses of Saint Mark that were originally installed on the balcony above the portal of the basilica in 1254.
In the evening we went back to our hotel and seriously fell asleep at around 8pm out of sheer exhaustion! Our hotel, as you can see in the picture above, was the Hotel Belle Arti and is really recommandable to anyone looking for a more quiet spot in the city, yet still central enough to quickly reach all the most famous places in Venice.
After having breakfast (and taking pictures of innocent people walking down the street), we wandered around the city and found this lovely fleamarket in the neighborhood.
Heading towards that day's aim,- the Doge's Palace, we passed by the famous and most expensive shopping street of Venice, called le Mercerie.
As I've already mentioned, our next stop was Palazzo Ducale,- the Doge's Palace. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice. Besides the courtyard, that is only visible from inside the building complex, we walked through the Doge's Apartment, the Institutional Chambers and (probably Esther's favourite and my least favourite part) the Old Prison.
In the 13th century prison spaces were created on the entire ground floor of the southern wing where nowadays you're able to pass through as a tourist. A corridor leads over the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1614 to link the Doge’s Palace to the New Prisons. Why Bridge of Sighs you ask? - The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells.
Back in the souvenir shop I was much more at ease to be quite frank with you, as I feel incredibly uncomfortable in narrow and spooky spaces like this one! :)
And now, ladies and gentlemen,- let us introduce to you- the store of dreams, the place where everyone- and by everyone we mean EVERYONE will exit the store with at least one item: MUJI !!!
I'm sure, there are many of you who'll go like: "What else is new? I've known that store for ages!" - Well, we haven't! :) And we absolutely adore it! It's a Japanese store located near the train station Santa Lucia and it offers many different products, from home accessories to games, crafts and travel stuff. It is amazing! I bought so many things, candles, notebooks, calendars - and it's really not expensive! I can still remember Esther's voice yelling: "Vicky! VICKY! Oh my god, look at that!" With tears in her eyes she showed me this (in her opion) marvellous, genius pen that could both produce thin and thick lines. To me, it's just a pen. But to her, it's the love of her life. As you can see, she immediately had to try it out back in the hotel, grinning like a little kid. Lovely.
After Esther had removed herself from her notebook we decided to end the day at my personal favourite spot in Venice. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
For all you art lovers out there - I've you're ever coming to Venice, you simply must visit this museum, as it is not only one of the best modern art collections in the world, it's also the former home of Peggy Guggenheim herself. So basically, you're walking through Peggy's bedroom while taking a glance at the Canale Grande and enjoying the sight of abstract art at the same time.
On our last day, Esther and I got up early to visit the famous Teatro La Fenice, a baroque opera house situated in the heart of Venice.
The theater's name reflects its role in "rising from the ashes" like a phoenix (fenice), despite losing three theatres to fire, the first in 1774, the second in 1836 and the third in 1996 leaving only the exterior walls, but it was rebuilt and re-opened in November 2004.
There's also going to be a little video about our trip, which is still in the making! It will be up on the blog soon, stay tuned!
Thanks for reading and have a lovely week!