Munich and all her beauty were quite quickly lost to us. (You can read Munich, Germany Part 1 and Munich Germany, Part 2 to catch up.) Our train to Venice pulled out of the Hauptbahnhof Station at precisely 9:38 am courtesy of precise German punctuality. We were on our way to Venice via Verona, a rail service provided by the German DB Bahn international rail service.
We knew ahead that the train journey would take up to 7 / 8 hours point to point, but we settled ourselves in determined to enjoy the journey and not simply the destination. It was weirdly relaxing actually, sitting aimlessly for a couple of hours reading on and off, staring out the window at the beautiful scenery rolling by. Without having a route map, the changing countryside, through snow and mountains and across flat farmlands quietly noted our moving position through Germany, Austria and finally to our arrival in Italy. Yes, we could have caught a plane (which we did on the way back) but without that train we would not have experienced what it is like to walk out of the Santa Lucia Train station in Venice and straight onto the magnificent Grand Canal for the first time.
We promptly got lost and spent the next 45 minutes walking up and down the busy but not overly crowded streets looking for our hotel. Getting lost in Venice is pretty easy and a must according to most travel guides, in tourist terms at least we were doing well. Once located, our hotel was in a pretty great location, and although not one of the fancy pricier spots on the Grand Canal, we were not disappointed. We set out almost straight away to find a café for an early dinner.
Our first dinner in Venice was a gorgeous fresh salmon tagliatelle for me and a bowlful of spaghetti Bolognaise for Dear Husband. We toasted our thirteen years together and to dreams coming true. Thirteen years before we had wanted to visit Venice for our honeymoon, and now eventually here we sat. It was a really great moment.
Beyond a list of a few well know sights which we wanted to see, our time in Venice really lacked structure. Our host Andrea had provided us with a map at check in and on it he circled all the popular Venetian sights. It was an invaluable help.
Our first planned stop was the famous Rialto Fish Market just a little way from the Rialto Bridge itself. We were a little too eager for Venice it seems and were out and about long before the shutters of most stores had been drawn up. We found a little coffee bar just passed the fish market and took a seat in the sun to drink lattes and eat chocolate croissants while listening to the sounds of the city waking up.
The Rialto Fish Market did not disappoint and we wondered around the stalls, watching the fish mongers clean fish and squid and other seafood. Some items were familiar and others were not. Suffice is to say that I have never been in the presence of such a variety of seafood all in one place. It is quite literally astounding and a must see if you are food inclined. Once you have had your fill of sea creatures visit all the little shops in the surrounding alleys. From butcheries selling prosciutto and whole legs of parma ham and pasta to bakeries and cheese shops, you will find it all there.
We bought some fruit and water from the vegetable market to snack on later and with map in hand and no particular rush continued our meander around Venice.
Crossing back over the Rialto Bridge we headed in the direction of Saint Mark’s Basilica. Again, visiting Venice out of season meant we were greeted by a very easily navigable Piazza San Marco, the central square of Venice. We decided to take both the paid museum tour and the free Basilica tour and were rewarded with the most amazing close up and history of the mosiacs. I would really highly recommend doing both. From the top of the Basilica the views of the Grand Canal are breathtaking and what a great perspective you get of the Campanile.
After our Basilica tour we walked back down to the Grand canal and just sat. You need a lot of that in Venice; time to just sit and take it all in.
Follow this post Venice, Italy (Part 1) by reading more on our time in Venice, Italy (Part 2) where I share more highlights and my top travel tips for Venice.