Which state in India is known as the Venice of the East? This was not a direct question to our team and I eagerly waited for the question to pass it to my team. This was during our school inter-class quiz competition which we used to have every year. During school days I was an avid quizzer thus all these answers were almost at my fingertips.
For years I have known that Kerala is often referred to as the Venice of the east especially the town Alleppey (Alappuzha) which due to its waterways is often associated with the Italian town of Venice. It was really fortunate for me to have traveled to Kerala quite a few times and the experience was just amazing.
One fine day all of a sudden an opportunity jumped into my lap, a chance to travel to Italy and I knew which place that I had to visit. Traveling to Italy and not visiting Venice would be to visit India and skip a chance to see the Taj Mahal. The planning had to be perfect since Venice is in the eastern side of Italy and within a few number of days, I had to complete my tour of the country covering what all could be covered.
Where to Stay?
Italy overall is not that very expensive and it’s quite easy to find a B&B but when it comes to Venice things heat up. Hotels, as well as B&B, is a bit expensive thus one needs to approach Venice differently. What I did was to stay in Padova which is around an hour by train from Venice. The other advantage of staying in Padova is that it’s also a small beautiful place which also deserves some time.
There is, however, a big debate which is going on and some locations of the city are now off-limits for day travelers. This has been done to discourage people from crowding city without actually staying in the city which is decreasing the much-needed funds to the city’s development. On the other hand, I believe Venice just do not have any economical staying options. Even the cheapest of B&B would be very expensive when compared with the rest of the country thus many travelers opt for staying else and travel to Venice for a day trip.
What to See?
Covering the entire length of the city with a day would be difficult and ideally one would need two days. However, you can always skip some and visit the main important landmarks which you can very well cover within a day.
Piazza San Marco
Saint Mark’s Basilica
San Marco Campanile
Last but not the least the city itself with the labyrinths of water canals which in itself is a thing to marvel. You can either take the boat service which runs from the jetty right outside the train station and will take you to Piazza San Marco from where you can see all the important tourist sites or if you are adventurous enough then just start walking. There are several small bridges to cross the canals. The city is not that big and can easily be covered on foot, however, I would not recommend this if you have children along with you as they might get tired with the continuous walking.
Gondolas are synonymous with this city thus do take a ride which would take you around the city’s canals. There is a rate chart provided thus you can rest assured about the price you are going to pay for the ride. Some add-on features to the rides include a small musical band which would sing all along during your ride.
Personally, for me, the experience of visiting the city was the main adventure. I was simply amused to see a city being built around canals. I wonder how the old building still stands despite being battered by changing the level of water. To make things more interesting for my daughter we simply wandered around the city amongst the tiny lanes and I told her the exact same story that I had narrated at the beginning of the blog.
If you get hungry then just go into any of the several restaurants that dot the city. My daughter was very hungry and two plates of pasta with minced meat were more than sufficient for three of us.
If you are planning to buy a souvenir in Venice, then it has to be the famous Venetian Masks. These lovely marks come in a variety of sizes right from a tiny fridge magnet to an actual usable one.
A new tradition that is sweeping across Italy, as well as many European cities, are the tradition of putting up love locks which were first inspired by the novel I Want You by Federico Moccia. Tourists love it and put up these locks but the local authorities are not happy with it as the excessive weight of the thousands of the locks threatens to damage already critical structures. However, this is very much in vogue and part and parcel of the Venice experience.
Overall for me, it was a really wonderful experience to fulfill one from my bucket list. If I would get the opportunity, then would surely like to visit Venice once more in my lifetime.