October 9 - My Impressions of Venice

Venice is one of the most spectacular cities we have visited so far on the trip. Its narrow streets and meandering canals create an unforgettable memory. The gondolas, small bridges, glass and mask shops, and cathedrals are truly grand.

When looking at a map, it almost seems as if Venice is a tiny island is the middle of the sea. It actually sits on 120 islands, connected by 410 bridges, crossing 117 canals! The only way to get into the city is to drive on an extremely long bridge that connects Venice with the mainland. There are no cars permitted in the city, so you must walk into it and take a water taxi (boat) to your hotel. If you attempt to walk, chances are that somewhere along your trip you will came across a dead end that leads right to the edge of a canal, then you're stuck. I loved riding to our hotel and admiring all the gondolas (fancy flat bottomed boats) skimming the water and paddling in and out of the canals. Homes are built right up the water's edge, so you must have a boat outside your front door to get out! If I lived in Venice, I would like to have a house like this, overlooking the Grand Canal (major river/highway through Venice) with a gondola to ride in and out of the city. The good thing is that it only takes 10 minutes to get out to the sea and fish. I would love that!

We decided to count how many bridges we walked over in a day, and discovered that we crossed over 50 bridges. There are only three bridges that cross the Grand Canal, which is two miles long, so it takes some planning to get to one of these bridges if you need to get to the other side. The mot famous bridge that spans the Grand Canal is the Rialto. This bridge is always packed with tourists and photographers. It has 24 shops on its edges, which sell anything from glass to gondola hats.

To get a feel for the city on our first day, we decided to take a gondola ride through the city. The rower wears a striped black and white shirt (very traditional) with a hat. He stands up on the back of the boat with a huge paddle, and steers his long gondola through the canals. There are two really comfortable seats lined with cloth and two wood seats (very uncomfortable) in the gondolas. Of course there was no chance from the very beginning that I would get to sit in one of these seats. My dad immediately took one with my mom, while me and Katie where stuck in the wood seats. We couldn't walk around much since the boat was really wobbly and easy to submerge.

Another thing I enjoyed was just wandering through the narrow streets without any specific destination. Exploring the shops and restaurants around our hotel was fun, and we always found something new each time. St. Mark's Square is one of the most beautiful sites in Venice. The Cathedral in the square is covered with gold mosaics dating back to the 12th century. Frescos could not survive long with the damp weather conditions, so mosaics where made everywhere. There were also hundreds of pigeons in St. Marks Square, eating the corn kernels sold in the square to tourists.

My mom liked seeing the long rows of clothes hanging out from building to building over the canals. If you don't use strong clothes pins you can say goodbye to all your clothes!

I enjoyed visiting Venice because of how different it was from any other city we have visited. I have never visited a city built on islands with canals weaving in and out of it. I will never forget this marvelous city and the adventures we experienced there.