The train ride from Zermatt to Venice took about 7 hours. Even with a map we had trouble finding our hostel, navigating through those winding streets wasn't exactly fun with the luggage. Finally found the hostel and dropped off our things and headed straight to the Grand Canal. There are several signs and plaques placed along the walls that helped us find our way. The canal was a cool thing to see, it was their version of a highway with several gondalas, speed boats, water taxis, and water buses along the water. We headed straight to the Rialto bridge, sadly it was covered in graffiti and banners making it look kind of ugly. The bridge itself had a bunch of stores on it that sold all sorts of gifts and souvenirs.
After taking pictures and looking through a few stores, we finally crossed over the bridge and followed the signs toward Piazza San Marco. We just walked around the Piazza, saw the Campinile, Basilica of St. Mark, and Palazzo Ducole. There were so many pigeons there, people were feeding them and allowing the pigeons to perch on their bodies. It was gross, yet kind of cool. It was late so most of the sites were closing, we were going to come back the next day. We just wandered along the water and saw all the sketchy men trying to sell knock off purses, watches, sunglasses, and belts. The funny thing is that people were actually buying items. We made our way back to the hostel and had dinner there. We met a lot of interesting people that were staying at the hostel, it made the experience a whole lot better.
The next day we headed back to Piazza San Marco and got in line to enter the Basilica of St. Mark. We paid to go upstairs to get a closer look of the incredible mosaics and to see the original Horses of St. Mark. The mosaics were insane, there was so much detail to them and they were all over the interior of the basilica. You could see every single tiny tile that were placed together to form the beautiful mosaics. The original horses used to be placed in the front terrace of the Basilica, they're now replaced with replicas to keep them safe. You can go onto the outdoor terrace and get a great view of the palazzo. Luckily, it was sunny for the brief period that we were on the terrace. After we finished looking at everything upstairs, we headed back downstairs and walked through the bottom portion of the basilica getting an overall view of all the mosaics on the domes.
Then we grabbed some pizza for lunch before heading over to the Palazzo Ducale (Doge Palace). Picked up an audio guide and made our way through all the rooms. First we walked through the courtyard and saw the Scala del Giganti (Stairs of the Giants), which had the amazing Sansovino sculptures of Mars and Neptune. This was the staircase used to crown new doges. Then we made our way up the Golden Staircase, which was lined with carvings and paintings enhanced with gold. Wandered through several rooms, one of them was the crazy map room. The audio tour ended with the Bridge of Sighs and the prison. The bridge was built to give the prisoners one last view of the ocean before heading to their cells. It so happens that the surrounding buildings were being cleaned, so there was a giant ad in the way. It was really tacky, check out the pictures. We ended the day at the hostel, chatting away with our new friends.
I would have liked to stay an extra day just wandering around the windy streets of Venice, it would have been fun getting lost.