When I started writing about our European whirlwind, I never thought I would have so much to write about and it was only once I started documenting it that I realised just how much we did in a fairly short space of time! This is the final installment in my Boots Abroad series and I’m wrapping it all up with my the city that stole my heart… Venice. We caught the high-speed train from Florence and arrived in Venice just 2 hours later. The weather was magnificent with not a cloud in the sky and we stepped out of the station, in a buzz of activity on the waters in front of us. The is not a single car to be seen in Venice – a concept that is rather strange but a the whole city is floating, you either walk or take a boat. We hopped on a water taxi and cruised down the Grand Canal on route to our hotel taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of this unique city.
Our hotel was on the Grand Canal and we had a perfect viewing spot to watch the hundreds of boats cruising up and down – DHL delivering the courier parcels, taxis dropping people off, gondolas starting out their romantic trips for enchanted couples. A gondola ride has always had a spot on my bucket list but I think because of the time of year we went, Venice was so busy that after seeing a few gondola go past, it was definitely not like the movies! We skipped this for a few reasons – firstly, at around 80 euro for a half an hour boat ride, it seemed quite excessive, secondly, if we chose to split the fare with another couple, it sort of lost the romance of it and thirdly, the little canals were so busy, you had gondolas lined up one behind the other inching their way along with the tourists doing all the singing. So perhaps if we ever go back and it’s out of season I’ll get my gondola ride in but this time around, I was happy to give it a miss. Venice is such a romantic city in itself and we had the most beautiful terrace on the rooftop of our hotel that gave us a chance to look out over this floating gem, away from the crowds and watch the sun go down while sipping on chilled prosecco and for me, that was worth more than any gondola ride 🙂
I could ramble on and on about this city but in all honesty, strolling the streets and getting lost in the maze of tiny alley ways and crossing over the little canals was the best part of exploring Venice for me. I loved the smell of leather as you passed the hundreds of leather shops selling bags and jackets and purses and boots – Italy is renound for their leather work – and the delicious aroma of freshly baked pastries and pastas. If you find yourself in Venice, two absolute must-try food spots are Dal Moro’s (Calle de l’Angelo 5324, 30122 Venice) where they serve you a box of fresh pasta made to order mixed with your choice of delicious fresh sauce to go. You have your pick of penne, tagliatelle and fettuccine (which you can watch being made while you wait!) and about nine different sauces. Pasta is a real weakness for me and this was hands-down the best pasta I have ever eaten and polished off the entire box! For the most decadent crepes (and according to the lady serving us, the best crepe you will ever have) you have to try La Maison De La Crepe (Sestiere Cannaregio, 5781, 30121 Venezia) I had a Nutella and hazlenut crepe that was roughly the size of my head and a delightfully gooey, chocolaty mess! I am drooling just thinking about it… They do also serve savory crepes but with my sweet tooth that was hardly worth noting.
A few sights that definitely can’t be missed are the Bridge of Sighs (a truly beautiful piece of history), Piazza San Marco (although there were one too many birds for my liking, the buildings surrounding the square are spectacular and the history is rich), Ponto di Rialto (the oldest of the four bridges crossing the Grand Canal – unfortunately this was under reconstruction when we were there so while we could cross it, we couldn’t see the magnificent architecture)
While I didn’t do a lot of shopping on our trip, I did the most shopping in Venice and like the rest of Europe, the sales were fantastic! So despite the crowds, it was a very good time of year to be there to maximise the shopping 🙂 To be honest though, we are lucky enough that so many of the overseas clothing shops are now in South Africa that there was very little that I saw that we can’t get here. The main appeal for me was make-up and beauty shops so I made a beeline for Kiko Milano (check out my Winter Warmers post to see the gorgeous lipsticks I bought) and Victoria’s Secret for some pretty underwear and moisturisers.
Our final stop before heading home was Munchen – as we flew via Munich on our way to Berlin – and it was a whirlwind of an overnight stop! An absolute MUST that you cannot miss in this city is the Hofbrauhaus (Platzl 9, 80331 München). The vibe and energy in this beerhouse which can seat around 3500 people is unreal! I loved seeing the old gentlemen dressed up in their traditional Lederhose, ladies selling their enormous pretzels and juggling a dozen beer glasses in hand and the Oompah band pumping out their table-banging, foot-stomping German tunes – it’s loud, it’s hot and it’s rawcus but an absolute thrill of an atmosphere! And surprisingly enough, the vegetarian options on the menu were delicious (and they do serve wine if you not keen on tackling a 1 litre beer!).
Munich is a beautiful city with such a rich history and like Berlin I would have loved more time to explore this city and the many, many sights. We managed to see the Olympiapark where the 1972 Olympic Games were held but I think you can spend an entire day here exploring! I also would have liked to have visited Dachau – the first of the many concentration camps in Germany but as it was a Sunday and transport was limited, we ran out time. In a way I’m glad we didn’t go as I think it is an incredibly emotional and overwhelming place to experience and although I’d like to go one day, I don’t think it was the right note to end our holiday on. I did however find the Sandman of Berlin’s arch rival.. the Tinman! I have no idea if there is any connection but we did have quite a laugh (if you not sure what I’m talking about, read Part Two of this series)
“Travel is the only thing that you buy that makes you richer”
This holiday was filled with so many moments and memories that I will cherish forever. I may have been able to write five posts worth of holiday stories but there were so many times that I was left speechless at the beauty and wonder of where we were and what we saw… When the travel bug bit me, it stuck and I cannot wait to fill the pages of my passport with more adventures but at the end of the day, where ever I go, there is just no place like home and it makes me appreciate the beautiful city that we get to call home even more… Home is most certainly where my heart is 🙂
PS. If you missed any of the previous posts in this series, grab a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable xxx