For me, traveling never gets old. Especially when it involves somewhere as unique as Venice, Italy, a place that I’ve wanted to go for as long as I could remember. Fortunately my girlfriend Kirsten Alana and I had the fortune of going there in partnership with The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and selected to stay at The Gritti Palace for four nights. During our travels abroad, we used our SPG Amex card for all our purchases with no foreign transaction fees, which was a great bonus. While our trip coincided not only with the height of the tourism season, but also a heat wave with deadening humidity, it was truly a dream come true for me.
Our flight departed from New York’s JFK Airport the night of August 12th where would travel overnight to arrive in Venice the next morning. Normally my restlessness and inability to get comfortable on a plane would have dampened my enthusiasm when we landed, but not this time. I was so excited to get out and start exploring as I knew we only had a few precious days to enjoy every bit of Venice.
I have to admit, I’m always a little worried about being in a foreign place without knowing any of the local language (and slightly embarrassed this time since I am half Italian by heritage!). Thankfully before we left Kirsten had coordinated our pickup at the airport with our hotel, and a very nice Italian gentleman was standing there with our names printed on a sheet of paper, which immediately made it feel like a very special experience. We proceeded to take a short five minute drive to the ferry / water taxi station where we quickly boarded a waiting water taxi for us. After a quick half an hour ride later, we arrived right at the doorstep of our hotel which was perfectly situated on the Grand Canal, right across from the breathtakingly beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.
Stepping one foot inside The Gritti Palace, I became immediately aware why it deserves its 5 star rating. Once a 15th century nobel palazzo and a luxury hotel sine 1895, its incredibly opulent and meticulous interior made me feel very special. I can honestly say that it is hands down the best hotel I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at.
We immediately checked in, dropped our bags off, and started our explorations right away. I was told by several friends before we left who had been to Venice previously to prepare to get lost. But as we started walking the winding streets, I immediately got the sense on how everything felt familiar and comfortable. I normally take some time to acclimate to a new place once I arrive there, but there was something about Venice that put me at ease. I felt like I could immediately start wandering the streets without being worried that I would get lost or that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back to the hotel (thankfully Kirsten had been to Venice before so she was practically a pro!). Navigating the city for me was somewhat easy.
Temperatures during the day reached about 90°F, or around 32°C, which made walking around with a backpack with my camera equipment very difficult. Thank goodness for the respite found at one of the many water fountains around Venice, mainly located in tiny squares for the residents and tourists to refill their water bottles or rinse their heads off to cool down.
While it was a short trip, I felt like it was just the right amount of time to explore Venice, and we even had enough time to take a day trip via the vaporetto to the island of Burano, located in the Northern Venetian Lagoon. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend visiting there, it’s unlike any other place I’ve been to. With the bright multi-colored houses, it almost felt like we had traveled to another part of the world.
For me, being able to travel the world is what life is all about. I am always reminded by one of my favorite quotes from Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta: “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” I hope that my photos do the beautiful city justice, so here are just a few of my postcards from Venice…