[pullquote]Dear Readers, It is with great pleasure that we announce to you that one of our regular contributors, Mr. Manjil P. Saikia will henceforth be writing a travel column for us. He is currently a Diploma student at The Abdus Salam ICTP, Trieste (Italy). We hope that our readers will love this column and enjoy the opportunity of reliving the experience of travel through our author’s senses. Please continue to show your support for us through your “Likes” and in case you want to share your views, please feel free to use our “Comments” section. Thank you.[/pullquote]
I decided to spend the day of New Year’s Eve 2014 in Venice, Italy. This trip had been on my cards for quite some time now, ever since I came to Italy in the end of August last year. So, some of us (me and three of my friends) decided to go there during the Christmas and new year’s break. We started quite early and it was very cold (temperature was below zero when we started and throughout the day it was either below zero or zero). I live in a small Italian town called Trieste and it is just a two hour train journey to Venice from Trieste. There are two train stations in Venice, so if you plan a trip there be sure to book your tickets to the Santa Lucia Train station which caters to the city of Venice.
We reached at around 10 am and had the whole day in front of us. The first sights that greeted us were really nice. You could see the water taxis in front of the station and could see many people going here and there. The cold didn’t play a spoilsport as we were very excited about this trip. The first thing on our itinerary was the world famous Rialto bridge. One of us had done some research on what to do in Venice if you are short of time and we decided to follow her advice. Finding the Rialto bridge which is adjacent to Hotel Rialto is very easy. From the train station you take the Strada Nouva which means the new street. One can see signs pasted on the walls every 30-50 m showing the way to Per Rialto. You can walk along the bridges of the famous Grand Canal following the signs and you will be in the bridge while at the same time getting a feeling of what makes Venice so special.
The grand canal which runs through the city is a complex labyrinth of many connecting bridges and alleys with some very old buildings on both sides. One can see couples enjoying the rides in the gondolas along the canal and the occasional water rides that tourists take. On our way to the Rialto, we stopped at some places in between. One of the places that we visited was a late 16th century church which has been converted into a museum of music and culture. It houses an amazing display of old musical instruments dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries and the soothing background music that plays in the museum is in itself worth a visits. Some famous Italian artists adorn the walls of the church.
After stopping in a few places, we finally reached the Rialto Bridge and the view from the top of the bridge was simply amazing. Artists and poets have hankered after this 11th century bridge for a long time. One can see the wide expanse of the Grand Canal in all its glory from atop the bridge. It is generally a bit crowded and full of photographers who come from all over the world. After the stop at the bridge we decided to take a quick lunch and coffee in one of the many eateries that litter the place near the bridge. The food was inexpensive by Italian standards and we had a good meal and proceeded further on.
The next thing on our agenda was San Marco which has many important tourist destinations nearby. On our way to San Marco we made stops outside a theater which was also quite an old structure and resembled the architecture of the ancient Roman empire. Many shops of famous brands including Chanel, Levis’s, Armani, etc can be found in the market place near the Rialto. You can also see people from many different nationalities in the streets and can guess how important a tourist destination this small Italian city is. From the Rialto it was another walk to San Marco along a few bridges and alley ways. It is advisable to buy a tourist map of Venice beforehand as the place can be quite confusing at times. We had to make use of GPS at one point in time to take us to our destination. However, the local people are quite helpful if you ask them for directions.
After walking for about 40 minutes, we reached the famous San Marco which comprises of many tourist destinations at a single place. It houses the Doge’s Palace and the St. Marks Basilica which were built in the 10th and 11th centuries and have been reconstructed a couple of times since then. The Doge’s palace has a beautiful gallery which is said to be visited by close to a million people each year. Unfortunately the queue was quite long and we didn’t have the time to wait, so we skipped visiting any galleries. The square in San Marco is famous for the pigeons that flock there, and you can even feed them in your hands with biscuits or other stuff. They seem totally oblivious to the constant human presence in front of them. If you are into history and architecture then this place will be an ideal ground for you. The beautiful art work and architecture of the place is amazing and you can spend a lot of time just staring at the buildings.
After this sojourn to San Marco, we decided to take a boat trip across Venice. Unlike other cities, the public transportation inside the city is entirely by water taxis, gondolas and boats. The gondolas were a bit expensive for our wallet and we decided to take a water bus which cost us just 7 euros for the whole trip. We saw a bit of the places in and around and took some pictures with people dressed in the traditional carnival attire of Venice and then decided to go back to the train station. The boat ride was a little over half an hour and it was an amazing experience. The wide expanse of the grand canal was welcoming and we had a lot of fun doing something that we normally don’t get to do.
We reached the train station with about one and a half hours still left with us. After taking a quick coffee (which was great) we took off to see the little market place near the station and pick up a few souvenirs from the trip. One specialty of the place that you should definitely take home with you are the carnival masks that comes in a wide range of avatars, sizes and colours. Some of them can be quite inexpensive starting from 10 Euros and can go high even upto 100 Euros. There are lot of other memorabilia like T shirts, Postcards, key chains, Italian made glassware, etc that you can pick up from the hundreds of shops that seem to fill up every street in Venice.
As the trip was coming to an end, we saw the city lit up in the night with lights everywhere. It was indeed a very beautiful sight. It is advisable to spend a night here to get a real feel of the beauty of Venice that makes it a unique place in the world. The grand canal looks majestic at night and the Rialto bridge is just breathtaking. As the trip came to an end we boarded our train back to Trieste with lot of happy memories and I could strike down one place from the list of places that I have always wanted to visit.
The whole trip including tickets cost me close to 70 Euros, but if you visit the galleries and stay the night then it would cost you about 120 to 150 Euros for a one night stay with food. The city can be visited in any time of the year, but it has ideal weather conditions in October-November and then February-April. It can a bit windy, so dressing in layers is advisable. Happy jouneying to this wonderful place.