Venice, less popularly known as Venezia, is a tiny city in Italy. It is a collection of very small islands, each with its own uniqueness, linked by the Grand Canal. It’s a beautiful place with lots of things to see and do. However, I did not like Venice very much for reasons I’m going to discuss below.
First of all, Venice is NOT a beautiful city. It may have been beautiful 75 years ago but right now it is inflicted with overpopulation, pollution and inflation. The city is extremely crowded with hardly any room for walking/cycling (especially in the mainstream areas). The Grand Canal (supposedly the wowest part of Venice) is polluted beyond repair and the smaller canals have an odor you will remember for a long time. Venice is also not the cheapest city in Italy when it comes to food or transport or souvenirs.
Now here’s a summary of my trip to Venice.
My experience with Venetians wasn’t very good. The general population is not at all helpful. We were lost for an hour in a completely different area and asked a number of people for directions. Most of them wouldn’t answer properly and a couple didn’t answer at all. We even asked our waiter on how to get to the Palace Gardens and he never came back. Eventually we found a tourist information counter that told us how to get to our destination. Even when you look around at the locals, they seem pissed off for some reason. Probably because they’re sick of the tourists flooding their little city.
Shopkeepers in Venice are cunning and cheats. Despite our vigilance, we were ripped off multiple times and so convincingly that it’s still hard to believe.
My experience with food in Venice was close to killing. We picked a random cafe with no name near the Grand Canal (honestly, only because I saw a Muslim family sitting there). I ordered a dish called “Deep Fried Fish,” which was probably the ugliest-looking food I have ever seen. They had dipped raw baby fish, baby octopus and baby shrimps in egg and breadcrumbs and just fried them. And then threw those dead animals with all eyes and limbs intact in a plate. HORRIBLE. And it was so expensive. Still reeling from the shock of that food.
Three words – Venice is expensive. And it is not surprising seeing how it’s on the bucket list of all the traveling enthusiasts to have existed. One of the things to keep in mind when in Venice is that the price is not regulated by the government. Everyone is charging whatever the hell they want for their products. If they’re in the city center, then their prices are a little more competitive because there are so many other sellers around them selling the same things. But if you go into the tiny streets and corners, then the stuff is more expensive!
We were ripped off by a pretty big store that sold us a Murano glass watch in a corner shop for 30 Euros. The salesperson absolutely convinced us that the glass is real and it’s made in Venice and all that. When we went back to the plaza in front of St. Mark’s basilica, the EXACT same watch was being sold for 15 Euros. It was heartbreaking.
My suggestion for shopping in Venice would be to buy from the stalls rather than the stores if you’re looking for souvenirs. Even those are expensive compared to other cities like Rome and Florence, but cheaper than the shops. However, if there’s something really special you want to take back from Venice, then try the shops by all means. They have some really wonderful stuff.
It’s all water-based. Water buses, water taxis, water cars, all water. I don’t recall seeing a vehicle with wheels in Venice. It’s kind of cute that you need to wait at a water station to catch the water bus. It’s a whole different experience. I really, really enjoyed it.
The public transport pass (valid for a day) costs 9 Euros. You are free to use the water buses as many times as you want during that time. It’s not THAT expensive and the buses stop at just about every tourist spot in the city. You can even just stop at random stations and explore since you have a full-day pass.
Another option in Venice would be to take the Hop-on Hop-off water bus. Now I’m usually against this hop-on hop-off bus thing because in my opinion it gives you the worst view of a city. In Venice, however, it can be a good choice. The public buses in Venice are absolutely full. At every stop, the boats fill up to their maximum capacity. One more person would probably topple over the boat…
As part of our Venice tour, we also got to take a ride around the Grand Canal on a gondola. An item checked off the bucket list, yes, but we saw Venice in all its glory.
My top 3 souvenirs
Regardless of how lame Venice was for me, the city’s souvenirs are nothing less than wow. Venice is known for quite a few things but my absolute favorites were
- A sailor’s hat
- A gondola souvenir because that completes your Venice trip
- A Murano glass souvenir
For the modern Muslim
If you’re a practicing Muslim, below are a few tips that might be useful when in Venice:
- Beware of the dogs on the water buses. They’re quite well-mannered so it’s really not an issue. Unless you’re Siham who has been dog-phobic forever.
- Venice has a great variety when it comes to seafood. There’s really no need to go veggie in Venice.
- Not many people know but the entire city dumps their trash into the water. Sewage pipes, windows, gondola cleaners, animal pee/poo – everything ends up in the water. So don’t dramatically play with the water when you get the chance because it’s overflowing with filth.
- I, for one, did not come across a Halal restaurant around the popular tourist locations in Venice. Google claims otherwise. You can look around but like I said, there’s really no need because there’s tons of delicious seafood at every corner.
I honestly hated my two days in Venice. Maybe if someone manages to convince me that it isn’t all bad, I might try visiting it again. But right now, no thanks.