When we stayed with Michael, our host in Treviso, his grandma asked us if we had visited Venice before? We said no and hadn't plan on visiting it because it was out of our way. Instead we planned to visit the Treviso town center which itself was also enlisted as a UNESCO heritage site. His grandma said "Treviso can wait, we must go to Venice!". We knew it was an expensive place to visit, so with the help of Michael's friend Philip we had a student local guide for the day! Even though Venice was 30km away from where we stayed, we could still reach there by train! Little did we know how affordable public trains were in Italy! Train Ticket: Treviso to Venice €4.35.

First glimpse of Venice!

So modern… and fast

We purchased the tickets online and entered the train station without much trouble. The train arrived and it was a double decker train! So many available seats to choose from. They even had a display of the speed, temperature and toilet occupation indicator. The train took about an hour because it had a delay but we couldn't do much but sit in excitement!

Upon arrival, we already noticed how packed the train station was! Tourists with their suitcases, labourers with their box trolleys and vendors selling souvenirs. Almost immediately we saw our first attraction: the Scalzi Bridge, offering a great view of the Grand Canal. Same as the train station, the canal was bustling with boats coming and going.

The Ponte degli Scalzi (literally, "bridge of the barefoot"), is one of only four bridges in Venice to span the Grand Canal. — Wikipedia

Chocolate Treat

Philip was a university student in Venice so knew the best free places! He took us to a chocolate shop Nino which had a wonderful fountain on display. We got to try some chocolate balls with hazelnut and cream filling. The second store we visited had a stall with truffles tasters. We've never had it before so got a little spoonful to try. It tasted like ordinary mushrooms, so we don't know what all the fuss is about.

Come here for chocolate samples!

A bit of brown gold?

Next stop was the Teatro Italia - not to watch a performance but for grocery! The building had been transformed into a magnificent supermarket. There are original frescoes on all four walls and the ceiling. Only LED lights are used as part of preserving the original frescoes - we think it added a calm atmospheric feel inside. The shopping experience had a special feel to it, or maybe because it was our first time in Venice.

Former Teatro Italia now a Despar supermarket A controversial project that raised criticism and praise in equal measure, the former Teatro Italia - in Cannaregio district - is the site of a Despar chain supermarket in the centre of Venice. The beautiful theatre hall now houses aisles with products on display for sale, while the former stage becomes the gourmet counter: definitely a unique supermarket. — Line a Light
What a cool place to work in! We didn't end up buying anything because it was premium price so quietly walked out.

Venezia Ciao

Between seeing all these point of interests we crossed many many canals - a typical hourly activity for all Venetians. By luck we heard an accordion playing with a man singing on the gondola to a group of four tourists. The song was very suiting and had the phrase "Venezia Ciao" repeated a lot. We later learned that the word "ciao" originated from Venice! See the story on Instagram featuring the song.

More window shopping… but inside

The next place we visited was the Bottega Veneta Department Store. We knew it was a nice boutique place because they had a smiling door handler welcoming us in. Once again, the architecture and decoration inside was beautiful right up to the top floor. There was a cafe in the middle of the store so we went to check out the menu… Guess we won't be eating here!

There's a special secret why this place is a must see. We'll write up part two soon!