Josh and I spent two and a half days in Venice eating, walking our feet off, people watching, and soaking in the sights and sounds. The Grand Canal snakes its way throughout the city, and the many smaller canals carve up the city into neighborhoods that are connected by charming stone and iron bridges. In essence it is an archipelago- a unity of one hundred and eighteen islands, connected by four hundred and sixteen bridges, a masterful jigsaw puzzle sewn together by the many gondolas and boats that zip up and down the waterways.
Our research pointed us in the direction of a guided kayak tour, and since we had limited time in the city we felt it was the best way to explore and see as much as we could. After our trip, we both agreed that kayaking was the best thing we could have done. Our instructor was a born-and-bred Venetian who knew the canals instinctively, and we were able to both watch the city and be a part of it in a very unique way. It cost us about $90 USD each for this excursion, but we'd pay it again in a heartbeat.
Half-Day Trips: 90 Euros per person (approx 9AM-1PM, or 2PM-6PM)
Full Day Trip: 120 Euros, 10AM-4PM
Our airbnb host in Venice told us to take a boat from the airport instead of a bus, and it was great advice. Yes, our boat tickets were about 7 Euros more expensive than the bus, but nothing can describe the immediate feeling of being immersed in a wonderland. The boat bounced and glided in the water and through the salt-stained windows we watched Venice appear and grow. The path the boat took was flanked by wooden markers, and resembled a two-way street. Private taxis whizzed by in the opposite direction, and our wide, gentle berth pitched and swayed in response. The warm, humid air, the scent of salt, the unabating sun were all a shock to the senses, having been in a pressurized cabin with artificial lighting for the previous 12 hours.
We disembarked at our stop, made our way to the main avenue nearest our airbnb, bought an Italian SIM card, called David, and met him to say hi and drop off our bags. It was before our check-in time, but he was nice enough to let us leave our bags with him so we could make our way to Certosa ISland for a kayaking trip.
We signed up for a 4 hour kayak tour of Venice, and had to scramble to wind our way through the city of Venice to get to the ferry which owuld take us to the island to meet the tour group. We were ten minutes late, and things were a little tense at first. Being pegged as the "obnoxious Americans who waltz in at the last minute and have no regard for other people" was not how I wanted to make an entrance, but our instructor interpeted it that way. She called me a princess and insisted that I share a kayak with Josh becuase he as a man could not let me work hard. I was incensed, jet-lagged, and sputtered incoherently. There were two other couples in the group, one Dutch, and one American. The woman in the American couple, who was around our age immediately spoke up and said, "Hey- if you're calling her a princess, you better call me a princess- right over here!" She had my back, and I appreciated her candor.
It was obvious that things were tense at first, but upon my instructor discovering that I spoke Italian she completely changed her attitude and started praising me openly and exclaming how special it was that an American would know Italian. She had me translate for her, and with each phrase that I said for her she squealed and beamed at me. Josh and I communicated silently, and it was an immense comfort that we were in it together.
Our kayak instructor was Venetian, and told us that Venetians are incredibly nosy and tell it like it is. She took us through small, sleepy neighborhoods that were silent as a pin except for the lapping water against Centuries old bricks. She also guided us through the Grand Canal- which definitely made my adrenaline spike!
The highlights were the Grand Canal, and an impossibly low bridge that we could not paddle through because it was so narrow. We pushed our hands aginast the rough brick, ducked our heads, and made it through. I was in disbelief when she suggested we go through it, and had serious reservations. Glad I did though!