DailyTimes | My Venetian adventure

Travelling has always been a passion for me with numerous cities and countries visited around the world, as mentioned in my first travel diary on Switzerland a couple of months ago. This time my travel diary is on Venice, a city which I always yearned to visit since childhood. The three-day trip was made in March 2016 while I was on a visit to Europe and the UK for official work and vacations.

I booked an early morning EasyJet flight from Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport, an East German era small airport, and headed towards Venice for my maiden trip to Italy. Flights booked from EasyJet are quite cheap and range between 30 to 60 sterling pounds for a one-way fare, depending on the amount of checked-inluggage. I’ve been travelling on this budget airline for my regional European trips for many years and it’s really good.

The excitement was truly at its peak. While entering Italy, I could clearly witness the exquisite beauty of snow-covered Austrian mountains. Once I reached Venice’s Marco Polo Airport, it really felt like a dream. The Adriatic Sea on one side and snowy mountains on the other side of the runway was an eye candy moment one couldn’t ignore to witness. After claiming my luggage, I decided to enter Venice via the only bridge, a Mussolini era wonder, which connects the city with mainland Italy. My Italian taxi driver was extremely courteous and even gave some good suggestions on how to stroll along the city.

Since the city is on a group of small Islands, no car is allowed beyond the city’s entrance. Water bus, water taxi and the gondola are the only modes of transport within the city’s limits. While a typical gondola or water taxi ride costs around 100 Euros, a two-day water bus ticket costs 30 Euros for an unlimited time. Walking is must to move along the land region and not recommended for those who get tired too early.

I had already booked a four-star hotel called Hotel Colombina which was in the city’s San Marco region, nearby the Venetian grand canal.For two nights and three days, the hotel cost me around 260 sterling pounds, which is a typical rate. If I go on to describe my room’s interior then it was like living in a large palace’s grand room with chic curtains, wallpapers, marble flooring and a fancy chandelier. Even the view from the room was breath-taking, as it overlooked the smaller section of the Venetian canal system.  If I get a chance then would certainly design my own room along this pattern someday. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I am still single otherwise my significant other would have truly been mesmerised by the interiors!

Nevertheless, after placing my luggage, I went back to Piazza San Marco and hopped along the path for taking some pictures and enjoying the serenity of Venice’s natural beauty. Gradually I got hungry and coincidently found the world’s oldest café called Café Florian, where I had afternoon tea that was more like an early dinner for me. I must mention that they have some of the best tea and scones in the world with their Salmon sandwiches being one of the signature dishes. Average price is a bit higher with a regular meal costing some 40 to 50 Euros, however, it’s highly recommended for any enthusiastic tourist visiting the Piazza.

By evening, I took some further picturesand decided to retire for the night as was quite tired. The next morning, I went beyond the Piazza region and took the water bus for an unlimited ride along the grand canalon a bright sunny day. I was amazed by how the city’s architecture is laid out for centuries with the canal system passing through every single corner. Going through the alleys including the Rialto Bridge, I found a totally different world that resembled Assassin’s Creed II, one of my favourite console games in which Venice is featured.

I, once again, had lunch from Café Florian (since I got addicted) and later on had ice cream from a nearby kiosk. I also availed the chance to visit the historic St Mark’s Basilica whose architecture was awe-inspiring.

In one of the water bus rides, I had the chance to visit mainland Italy and the total ride took me around an hour and a half. To be precise, I was roaming around the city in a circle direction trying to take pictures and selfies at every possible moment. At one point, I even strolled along the alleys of the city and just refused to take a break by continuously walking. I returned to my hotel by late evening.

On the next and final day of my Venetian trip, I quickly went around San Marco after checking out and decided to go to the airport by water bus. The ride took me around an hour and a half and cost 15 Euros for a single trip.

Describing the city’s landscape is extremely difficult as words won’t do the justice. Arriving at the airport, it took me another 20 minutes to reach the departure counter due to a long walk from the water bus point. My next flight was for Geneva but felt tearful while leaving Venice, the true city of love.

The author is a Daily Times staff member, with a special focus on Pakistan’s foreign and national security affairs. He tweets at @mhassankhan06 and can be reached at hassankhan440@gmail.com