The Waterways and Grandeur of Venice
Having arrived in style on the Venice Simplon Orient Express, the water taxi was waiting for me just a short walk (right outside the train station) from the train and that's the first time that I truly realised what a bustling city Venice is.
The locals are either walking home or driving the boats or water taxis along the canals, as tourists stop to take photographs of these amazing buildings - but our water taxi swept past all of this and took me to the island of serenity and The Cipriani. On first sight you know why it is so special, instead of being right in the busy city, The Cipriani is a short 5 minute boat ride away and you arrive into the beautiful garden with the little pond surrounded by Murano glass turtles, and into the beautifully calm lobby area for a welcome bellini.
I was then taken to my beautiful Junior Suite. Located on the ground floor next to the swimming pool (again another difference to the other hotels) my Suite had a small garden area which would be a perfect spot to shelter from the summer sun. The Suite was huge which was needed in order to fit the amazing red Murano glass chandalier that I think was bigger than the bed! Many of the rooms have recently been redecorated with clean white walls, a mix of traditional and modern furnishings, and a large bathroom (complete with a lot of Bvlgari toilettries). After unpacking I headed to the bar for my first Caneletto of the trip, as peaches were not in season these were made with raspberries instead and I can highly recommend them, but after just one I could still feel myself swaying to the rythmn of the train so I retired to bed. The next day, after breakfast near the garden and overlooking the boats sailing past, I took one of the Ciprianis many water taxis over to Venice and realised that I should've woken earlier to avoid the cruise ships that had docked at Venice earlier and allowed their passengers a day in Venice. To be honest my plan was to get lost in the back streets of Venice and so I wandered through the streets, alleyways and across the bridges with Sharon from Orient-Express trains with me to ensure that I didn't get too lost. And like the tourist I was I quickly realised that stopping in the middle of a street or waiting your turn to get to the front of a bridge is what you have to do in Venice as my photographs proved.
Everywhere in Venice there is a photograph waiting to be taken, it is such a beautiful city. And after having lunch at the side of one of the smaller canals and watching the tide rise onto the pavement whilst drinking and Aperole Spritzer with the locals, we then ventured to St Marks Square for a very pricy hot chocolate (although with the high content of cocoa and beautiful band playing in the background allowing me to really soak up the atmosphere, it was worth it). Sharon then went back to the Cipriani while I walked around Doges Palace, I really would recommend purchasing the headsets as this beautiful building with so many amazing paintings really does come alive once you understand it, and then I walked along the Bridge of Sighs into the dark prisons, peaking through the windows and seeing Venice as the prisoners would have done for the last time you can understand where this bridge got its name. Then when I was ready I headed to The Cipriani's private dock and called the hotel to ask for a boat to collect me. In the 5 minutes I waited I spotted the famous Harrys Bar, which is in the opposite direction of Doges Palace, and wished that I hadn't called for the boat too soon.
Back at The Cipriani it was time to read more of Murder on the Orient Express (coincidentally I finished this on the flight back home) and get ready for dinner. I was lucky enough to dine at Fortuny Restaurant, with delicious food and a seperate wine for each course it really was a treat, then back to the bar to have a couple La Nina's - cocktails designed for George Clooney's mother. The next morning the sky was as grey as I felt leaving this beautiful hotel but the smiling staff, joking at how heavy my small suitcase was and asking when I was next coming back made me really wish that I could come home and plan my next trip - but first I need to hit the gym to work off all the amazing food I had ate on the Venice Simplon Orient Express and The Cipriani!