I’m back from my first solo adventure – and as you can tell from the title (and all the pictures on Instagram), I went to Venice.
I say I went to Venice, but honestly, it felt like I went to another universe. Venice is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. It feels like a perfect bubble of untouched architecture, art, food and culture.
It’s safe to say that Venice will hold a special place in my heart now, not only for its beauty but for the first place I took the leap and went on a solo travel.
The Venice Diaries are going to share what I got up to over the three full days I spent in the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region.
Thursday morning (or was it still Wednesday evening?)
Starting the day with a very early wake up call of 2:45am, I woke up feeling surprisingly alert (although not too surprising considering where I was going!).
After a quick dash around the house to get ready, I jumped in the car for a much-appreciated lift to Bristol Airport.
After a relatively quick and painless wander through security (thanks to the smallest carry-on backpack you’ve ever seen), I found myself settled in a coffee shop to sit with a latte and think about the journey that lay ahead of me. I was feeling optimistic and ready to see what I was capable of.
Beautiful sights before Venice
The flight was a smooth two hours at 7 am, accompanied by a glass of cider and handful of olives (it’s turning into a bit of a tradition when travelling to celebrate this way) with a new book to keep me busy.
The window seat turned out to be a complete blessing as the plane soared above the Alps, the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe. The snow-capped mountains made it feel like all the fun of travelling had already begun.
Once off the plane, a bus ride took me directly to Piazzale Roma. This felt like the first time when I was really doing it – this was me, travelling, on my own.
I hopped off the bus with no idea where I was, where I was going or even what direction I should head in. After a deep breath, I decided to just walk. Put one foot in front of the other and go with it.
Heading to the heart of Venice
After a quick wander, I stumbled upon a cute little cafe nestled into a side street where I grabbed my first taste of Italy: a calabrese panini, stuffed with mozzarella and tomatoes. The panini in hand, I wander through the maze-like streets of Venice and came to the Rialto Bridge.
As the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice (and absolutely stunning with an incredible view) you can imagine how busy it was with excited tourists!
The perks of being on your own meant I could nip in and out of the groups of people and couples to find a space to stand and appreciate the warm air, the sun on my skin, the crystal blue water and the equally blue sky.
As per my nan’s request before heading off, I also grabbed a pistachio ice cream to enjoy whilst exploring the area – it definitely started to feel like a holiday then!
Sippin’ on spritz
Next, I decided to hit another tourist hot-spot whilst I waited for check-in at the hostel and headed to Piazza San Marco, home to the iconic sights of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace.
I found myself the perfect little spot to sit in the sun, but away from the crowds, with my very first Aperol spritz. Looking directly at the Basilica, I sat for a little while soaking up the sun and the buzz of people rushing about their own day.
Another meander through the streets and bridges of Italy and I found my way to Libreria Acqua Alta, the perfect place for a book lover! It’s a unique bookstore showcasing a variety of books and art in gondolas, boats and bathtubs.
Bonus: There was cats wandering all over the books.
Realising the hostel is in a 15th-century church…
I must admit I had low expectations of staying in a hostel, I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard various horror stories or had visions of how bad a shared space could be. However, Ostello Santa Fosca was even better than I hoped it might be.
It’s set in a 15th-century church and built on beautiful red brick, with beautiful green grounds around it. The staff were lovely and welcoming, offering suggestions of where to get the best views, try the best pizza and enjoy a drink.
I shared a bright, colourful and clean room with five other women (who changed about across the time I was there). My bottom bunk bed proved a bit of a challenge considering I am tall but otherwise it was comfortable and warm – all I needed to recharge after a full day of walking around Venice!
Embracing hostel life
Now came the point that I had been anticipating, but slightly anxious about… meeting people in my room! Luckily, this turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip as on my first evening, I met the wonderful Callie from South Carolina.
After strolling through the sunset, we sat for a few hours under a starry night sky drinking spritz and talking all things life (at the infamous bar that would become our ‘go to’) before grabbing snacks (gnocchi and crisps for me, noodles for Callie) and heading back to the room for some well-deserved sleep.
I went to sleep that night feeling content and grateful, with a full heart, a theme that would continue for the rest of my time in the beautiful city.