The December 2011 issue of Travel + Leisure is highlighting Venice as a great holiday travel destination. Every time I run across an article like this, I read and double read, trying to figure out what I missed. You see, I went to Venice this past May and didn’t like it. “How is that possible???” I keep asking myself. Venice! One of the few destinations in the world recognized by virtually everyone as a destination worthy of loads of money and hours in a cramped airplane seat. A city young women all over dream of visiting. How did I end up wanting to get the hell out of there? Of course, people who know Venice warn others that Venice is much more enjoyable during the off-season, when it’s not completely overrun by tourists. But I hate being cold, having to walk through water and rain.
My first night in Venice, I walked through the streets and stared at the graffiti all over the shops’ metal gates. I’ve never seen so much graffiti in my life. Combined with the water-damaged buildings, Venice looked like a decaying slum. I couldn’t get my head around it. Has Venice’s citizens and government already left Venice to die? Were all the tourist dollars going straight into the pockets of merchants and none to city infrastructure? I was also unprepared for the sheer mass of tourists, so many that I longed for the peace and serenity of the Italian countryside. I must disclose, however, that I was with my in-laws. While I love them dearly, traveling with people who have completely different interests from me definitely affected my perception of the city.
Looking at these pictures, I do admit that Venice looks very beautiful. It wasn’t all bad. There were pockets of enjoyment, which consisted of the following:
- Taking the water bus at night: Riding by the Venetian mansions, all lit up at night, was admittedly breathtaking. We could hear laughter and the clinking of wine glasses as people, presumably part of the upper crust, partied behind the shut doors.
- Going to Murano: more on this later.
- St. Mark’s Square: It’s so grand that I barely noticed those around me. I was memorized by the buildings’ architecture and the plaza’s layout. At night, we stood around listening to live bands play music. Father-in-law also got over his fear of pigeons here.
- Seeing mother-in-law’s happiness: Venice is her favorite city. Obviously, she has no problem with crowds.
- The colors: I love pink buildings. Enough said.
We stayed at Hotel Residence Elite, in Mestre. The hotel was quite lovely for the price and has a great location for Venice. You can take a bus or drive a car from the hotel and be in Venice (enter through Piazzale Roma) in about 10 minutes. However, the breakfast included in the price pandered to Americans. I did not enjoy the smell of greasy bacon and eggs and prepackaged croissants. You can’t really complain though considering the low price.
Would I go back to Venice? I think so. I’m convinced that I missed something.