New Year’s Eve; a time to celebrate the previous 12 months and look forward to the next, a night loaded with expectation and possibility. It often seems, to me, like New Year should feel more special than it ever does. Often, plans fall short of expectations; you’re that awkward guest at a party who only knows one person there, or you stay in with your friend who drinks a little too much and promptly begins to vomit at 10.30pm before passing out at 11.
Well I’ve found the antidote to my troubles, and it is to take off to somewhere new with a handful of my favourite people. In 2015 I found myself in the Lake District and this New Year’s I made my way to Venice, Italy. Exploring somewhere new ensures that your New Year’s has a sparkle of excitement; regardless of what you find yourself doing at 12pm on December 31st, you’ll have the memories of the whole trip to look back on, which takes the pressure off that midnight moment.
Having never been to Italy before I was more than pleased to have the opportunity to cross such a beautiful city off my bucket list. Venice is enchanting. Grand buildings majestically line the waterways, giving you the sense that you’re caught in a movie set instead of a real city. With canals instead of roads, your only chance of getting around is on your feet or in a boat.
Our apartment was located just minutes away from the famous Rialto Bridge, and we spent days wandering the city, admiring St. Mark’s Basilica & the Doges Palace, peering in windows at stunning venetian masks and basking in the beauty of the old buildings and gondola lined rivers. Exploring on your feet with no particular destination in mind is the perfect way to get a real sense of this magical place – you might get lost on a few occasions, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?
For the most spectacular view across Venice, we made our way to the viewing platform at the top of Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, a stunning 13th century building, recently converted into a luxury DFS department store. The 360 degree visual of the city from the top of this building is an unparalleled viewpoint, the beauty of which takes your breath away.
Jumping onto a vaporetto (a water bus to you & I) on the Grand Canal, we were able to travel further into the lagoon for a trip to the islands of Burano & Torcello. With it’s superbly bright, coloured buildings, Burano is wonderfully picturesque, whilst Torcello is mostly nature reserve, with a smattering of old buildings – one of which is a clock tower which you can climb for far-reaching views from the top.
On New Year’s Eve itself, we made our way to the Grand Canal. Looking out across the wide expanse of water where the canal begins to meet the lagoon, we were in a prime position – and the most beautiful setting – to view the spectacular fireworks display. We then proceeded to get completely lost on the way back to the apartment and it took us three times as long as it should have to return, eventually realising we were literally heading in the opposite direction of where we needed to be…
On our final day, we yielded to the tourist inside and took a gondola ride along the canals. I’ve seen gondola’s dubbed as “overpriced” and “not worth it”, and whilst it’s true they might be considered on the pricey side, “worth it” they most definitely are. Being in the water in a Gondola gives you a new viewpoint with which to admire Venice’s beauty, it was the perfect end to a magical trip.
You can watch our Venice adventures on my youtube channel here, keep your eyes peeled for the next post on how I found being vegan in Italy!