I still remember, as if it were just yesterday, how beautiful and magnificent, Alto Mare is—the main theme city of the movie Pokemon Heroes, which was created on the idea of Venice. Much as I love Alto Mare then, I had no idea that it was based on a real city that consisted of different islands in the north of Italy. Through many years of adulthood, I got to know more about Venice, as well as how the director of The Pokemon Company, Kunihiko Yuyama, chose to visit Venice to get an idea for Alto Mare. And finally, I succeeded in paying a visit to Venice in order to find my memories of that “young boy” childhood.
Venice in foggy days
Never did I expect Venice to be so foggy during my 2-day-and-a-half visit. But as per my check, it shall be a normal situation in winter, when the weather tends to be more humid in Venice. At least, it does not rain, I still enjoy Venice the way I want.
When the OBB Train from Villach, Austria, stopped at Santa Lucia train station, the last station you can reach on the islands, I was rushing through all those passengers, just to see the first sight of Venice with my own eyes. Yes, I stood there, opposite the church of San Simeon Piccolo, watching some vaporetto (a kind of water bus, only available in Venice island and the surrounding area) and could not believe that I was already in Venice.
After collecting my 3-day ACTV Transportation pass (a pass allows you to take unlimited Vaporetto and one way of AERO Bus to Marco Polo Airport for 34 Euros – an unbeatable deal only for those early birds like me!) I jumped on Vaporetto Line 2 to reach Giudecca Island, where I would have 2 night stays.
Though I couldn’t see much of the Venezia Islands during the day, I can still feel how charming the city is. The sea was quite calm that day, though the fog was still thick. However, it’s also a rare case when you see Venice as in a fairy tale, which only appears suddenly in fog.
I checked in the hostel, a quite nice 12-bed-dormitory on the 3rd floor with a rate of 12 euros per night, and took another vaporetto to Saint Mark’s Square.
Little did I know that the 2023 Venice Carnival would be so interesting and fun when I arrived at Saint Mark’s Square. The square is large, but it was packed with people dressed in medieval costumes or cosplaying as members of the wealthy class of the 17th and 18th centuries. People look so gorgeous and are enjoying their cosplay that they let people take hundreds of photos of them without hesitation.
That evening, should be the most satisfied moment I had ever experienced in Venice. Not only it’s marked my first time in Venice, exploring the islands, but also it gives me the joy of living my childhood, bringing though memories back in time. I keep wandering through some alleys, despite the fact that the sun already set and everywhere was lighted. Venice at night, was not that sad and gloomy as per my thought, but lively, bustling with so many visitors strolling around or enjoying the vibe of the famous Carnival.
Venice at night, still with the foggy weather, gave me a strong sense of somewhere only appears in the fairytale – a city that is living its own vibe of happiness and joys. Leaving the main island when it was already 9, I came back to Giudecca island, just to recognized that the hostel where I stayed, had a party for their guests. Tire as I already spend the whole day traveling from Bled Lake to Venice, passing through Villach, Austria, I decided not to join but took a deep sleep for a new day to come.
Search for the Girl
I stepped out of the hostel, just to realize that it was so cold in the early morning, when the temperature was just around 5 Celcius degrees. The fog blurred much of Venice, which I doubted would be clear on a normal day, watching from Giudecca. I took the 2nd line of Vaporetto to arrive in Saint Mark’s Square, after just 5 minutes. Anyway, it’s not worth paying such an expensive rate for a room on the main island.
Venice in the morning, was so calm and peaceful, and though there were already people starting to dress well for the Carnival, it still lived up to my expectations about a Venice without groups of tourists.
Leaving Saint Mark’s Square after a quick look around at the Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale (which was renovated at the time I visited), I rushed to see the Venice that I have always dreamed of. Though there were not many people around the alleys in the morning, I still just wanted to explore them by myself, trying to stay away from as many people as possible.
During a 2-hour slow jog in Venice, I simply turned on the song with which I was always obsessed as a child—Search for the Girl. The song was not a debut in any Pokemon Heroes but just a short scene of Ash Ketchum chasing Bianca (at that time, it was actually a transformed Latias) through all the alleys and some corners of the city, Alto Mare. I must admit that the song plays such an important role that whenever I watched the scene, I was dreaming of being in Venice for one. Finally, I did, and my favorite part is that, I still remember the song in my mind.
I acknowledged that the shade of Venice’s water changes, depending on the weather, but in fact, I felt extremely lucky to spot the emerald green water along the small canals. The media said that Venice is sinking at the moment, thus the water is not as clear as it was before. This was absolutely not correct, I believe Venice’s water is still clear, or at least, with that milky emerald shade at some times of the year. So, Venice is still a must-visit.
I just kept going through all the narrow alleys until I reached Rialto Bridge. This area is always busy no matter when you go, even when I thought that I should be among the earliest people to reach there at 9:30 in the morning. The bridge offers tourists a great view of a classic postcard-style-photograph, which is why it may be chaotic for some. To stop here for 5 minutes is also a challenge when everyone just keeps on pushing you back and forth for a stand on the bridge. Lucky as I was, I got a good spot to take some photos and some time-lapse footage.
Some photos of Rialto Bridge during my time in Venice
I moved to a small coffee shop to have a cup of cappuccino with two pieces of Italian canapes for around 12 euros. It wasn’t cheap (no one should expect cheap food in Venice), but it was tasty and worth the money. I crossed some courtyards inside Venice, which is an unmissable feature of the island, to reach another bridge called Accademia Bridge (or Ponte dell’Accademia). Personally, I prefer this bridge to Rialto Bridge since it’s not that hard to find a good photography spot. It even has a more romantic landscape of Vaporetto, Gondola with a background of the Basilica of Maria della Salute
I even took a walk across the bridge, not forgetting to ask a couple of Italians to take some photos for me as it’s not easy to use a tripod there, then walked along the canal until I reached somewhere with a better view of the bridge. Some people may not prefer this part of Venice, but I quite like it. It’s less touristy, having some space with “Venezia” style houses. If I’m not mistaken, the canal’s name is Rio de la Fornace. I did even think that this place offered me a better vibe of Venice than other crowded places in the main Saint Mark’s Square.
Ponte dell’Accademia is a perfect spot for photography that I think those who visit Venice, can’t miss
Though it was already 4 p.m. or so at the time I visited the nearby Basilica of Maria della Salute, Venice was still foggy, but not that thick, in comparison to the city in the early morning. I did not know if the fog made Venice more bearable of the winter cold or not, but the fact is that I never felt so cold during my time in Venice, at least when it’s not windy.
Looking at the watch, I found out that it’s almost 5 p.m. and the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo might close soon if I am not quick. I rushed to the tower, just to realize that I was the last person to be admitted for an entry before it closed the door behind other tourists. It cost me 8 euros to visit, quite pricey, but as I would not have another chance to visit on the last day, I paid, with some thoughts of whether I was crazy or not just to stand on the top for 10 minutes or so. It was somehow weird standing there with wide views of houses’ roofs. But as all of the roofs are made of bricks with an orange/ruby shade, it’s satisfying and cool.
That evening was another highlight of the day, as I had really great Panna Cotta and seafood spaghetti, something a tourist could not miss being in Venice. The taste of panna cotta was superb, while a cup of coffee latte marked the end of the day. 8 pm, and the night just began in every corner of Venice.
People walked, talked, and enjoyed the vibe of Carnival to its fullest; meanwhile, I still put my earphones on, keeping myself busy with “Search for the Girl”, knowing that it wouldn’t be easy for me to come back to Venice. So, I had to live my fullest days in Venice. The vaporetto took me back to Giudecca at 9:30 p.m.
I left the crowd of people on the main island and enjoyed my rest after a full day wandering around the islands with my memories of the movie. Much as I was happy, I slept, with an eagerness for the last morning in Venice.
A goodbye too hard to speak out
Next day, I woke up at 6 am, just to make sure I had enough time for an expresso macchiato and a small croissant, just the way Italians enjoy a fresh morning. A breakfast for just 4.5 euros inside a cafeteria belongs to my hostel. Looking over Saint’s Mark Square, what can I ask for more? It’s hard to turn away the peaceful and fresh vibe of a foggy morning while enjoying a sip of coffee, which I rarely have these days.
I still need to head to a Co-op store on Giudecca to pick up some coffee for my friends, of course, as souvenirs. Little did I know that the store has so many things that I want to buy them all, except for the fact that my suitcase is already too full with all of those chocolates from Salzburg and Vienna.
I would say that I felt a strong sense of daily life on Giudecca, which is a fact that I did not notice much on the first day. People here are so busy with their mornings that they do not pay attention to tourists on the main island. They catered food for their grocery stores, took some fish caught from a boat or so, and placed them all in their shops. I even spotted a stall full of fresh fruits and vegetables (perhaps they brought them over from Venice on the mainland). All of these things may be normal for someone else, but not for me. I enjoyed the daily life to the fullest extent as the last day marks my final moment on the island, and it was great with all of these things that are hard to find anywhere near the main island. Anyway, my choice to stay on Giudecca was so wise that I do not regret it at all.
I managed to get on top of Saint Giorgio’s church after paying an entrance fee of 8 euros and taking a 5-minute elevator ride. It’s worth every penny, as well as my effort in taking the vaporetto to reach the island. I remembered how amazed I was at the glorious beauty of Venice from the church’s tower. There, you can spend time watching vaporetto, water taxis, and gondolas pass by. I must say that this is the best viewpoint of Venice one may find during the stay. The one I visited earlier was not that surprising prior to my visit to the church.
I engulfed myself in the sight so much that I even forgot I needed to check out and packed my luggage for a flight to Stockholm, Sweden, at 2:50 pm. It was not windy but foggy and cool there; the visibility may be better on a sunny day in the summer, but still, it creates a mystifying vibe as usual with the fog. So, I still considered this one of my most favorite and satisfying activities in Venice.
1 hour after the magnificent view, I checked out, took my luggage on the familiar vaporetto that I’d finally gotten used to, to the Roma Piazalle, where I needed to take a bus to Marco Polo International Airport.
I was so sad and regretted leaving the island that on the 30-minute boat ride, I did not leave any traces of Venice, afraid that I would miss the special feeling I gave to the city. But anyway, it’s time to say goodbye. Sitting on the bus, I recalled all the memories I had during those 3 days and 2 nights in Venice—something weird that not a usual tourist would opt to do in Venice. But it’s all worth it.
Overall, I would like to say a sincere thank you to Venice for being a part of my childhood and even to Pokemon the Heroes for guiding me and inspiring me to come to Venice. Ciao, Venice!