Inspire Your Love Of Travel With Cindy Ko In Venice


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Fashion aficionado and Elle Hong Kong contributor Cindy Ko sees the world like no other travel writer today. Effortless glamour and ethereal romance imbue every journey she embarks on and captivate her dedicated global audience. Now, she shares her most memorable and breathtaking moments from T Galleria's Love of Travel campaign, exclusively with DFS.

What were your first impressions of Venice?
My first impression was amazement at how the only form of transportation was by boat. Trying to figure out the city as I went down the canal in a water taxi, I kept thinking, how does a city like this work? How do you get around? But there were no horns honking, no people yelling, everything was just … peaceful.

What did you expect and what surprised you the most about the city?
I expected Venice to be beautiful like I’ve seen in all the photos and stories I’ve seen and read. What surprised me was that, while I don’t normally like traveling during peak season when there are a lot of tourists around, I didn’t even notice all the people in Venice because I was so captivated by the city. Crowds didn’t take away from the charm and that was unexpected.

All the narrow little streets are surprising and delightful as well. Some streets were just single file narrow alleys — that was surprising! I would love to get to know this place as a local and learn exactly how to get somewhere through the maze, using all the little known shortcuts. That would be a completely different experience.

What about Venice inspired you?
I really liked that there were no cars. It just shows that don’t you don’t have to make everything in life hyper-convenient and you don’t have to conform to the way other cities operate. Venice is so special because it takes you and leads you though the city by foot; it tells you this is how you have to experience Venice. It has its own personality. It’s a city that works so simply. You can self-reflect on that.

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The campaign is called ‘Love of Travel.’ Tell us why you love to travel.
There are so many reasons, but I especially love to travel because it makes me feel like I don’t know everything. I like how traveling makes you feel small, but in the end can also make you feel like you’ve gained so much knowledge. Travel gives you a new perspective. There’s the food, the experiences, the people that you meet. We all live in this world, but the colors of sunsets, the clouds, the feel of a new city – it all allows you to be perceptive of all the ways that the world affects you. Everything is interesting when you travel because you learn about other people while learning about yourself and, in doing so, you become more connected to the world, to people as well as to nature. You become more in tune.

How does Venetian style compare to other parts of the world? Does anything set it apart?
To me, Venetian style is perfectly personified by the charming gondoliers. Their soft shoes and striped shirts, their straw ribbon hats; there’s a practicality to it but it’s also quite stylish and that pairing is very Venetian to me. It has both charm and classic sensibility and that is very unique to Venice.

Tell us about how you packed for the trip to Venice. What was the most important item you packed?
I packed light jackets mostly. A light jacket is the easiest way to change up a look if it’s autumn or winter. Flats or shoes that you can walk in are good for traveling in general, but especially in Venice! You should always bring comfortable shoes because walking is the only way to get around. For this time of year, though, the most important item was definitely a jacket that can be layered on in the cold early morning and peeled off when the sun comes out.

What are five unique essentials to pack for a trip to Venice?
First, comfortable flats. Second, lip balm because the weather seems dry here in the fall. Also, mosquito repellant since I got a few bites on this trip. A good map is essential, otherwise a short walk could turn into a walk for hours and a camera, for sure!

What did you learn about Venice while on this trip?
In Venice, there are 400 bridges and 177 canal and you can only get around by walking. I read that in a storybook here and I thought to myself, what, not even a bike? That’s crazy, but it’s great! The acqua alta (high water season) is also fascinating. While we were shooting, they were just starting to lay out some elevated platforms in the streets for people walk on when the city floods. To learn that it snows here was also fascinating.

Tell us about your favorite meal.
The food has been amazing in Venice! We had dinner one night at the Antica Carbonara restaurant near the San Marco Piazza and it was delicious. The atmosphere was lovely and the service was great. I had the salted sea bass and the Mediterranean crab salad served in its shell. I liked the rosé wine, the herbed scallops, and the fresh sautéed porcini too!

Tell us about the locals. Was there anything particularly unique about your interactions with them?
They were all very helpful. If you had any questions, they would take the time to explain things to you and share their knowledge and they seemed to really want you to get to know Venice. During a painting class, I met an artist who even showed me how to carefully put paint on a brush. At the T Fondaco, a local sales associate talked to me about local Venetian products. She told me about everything from Venetian biscuits to Venetian shirts, and took me through each designer, each item – telling me stories about them. So I would say the locals are not only very knowledgeable, but also very eager to share.

Describe the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi store. What did it feel like to be there?
First, the location is great! It’s in an area that is very lively. The views of the Rialto Bridge from the rooftop of the Fondaco and the bridge itself are beautiful. The rooftop is truly amazing and definitely one you have to go and see for yourself. Is there even another place that you can have such a spectacular view like that in Venice? It’s just a really great spot when the sun is setting and the church bells ringing, and all you see are gondolas floating down the Grand Canal.

The store’s exterior and inside are very grand and the patterns of the tiles on the first floor are amazing. Just standing in the center of the ground floor and gazing up towards the beautiful arches on each side, you can really feel the beauty, the energy and the history of the building. It feels so open but has good mixture of modernity that keeps within the heritage of the building. The red escalators were also beautiful! I also love the Loyal T lounge, leading into it is an incredible red-carpeted gold staircase. Within the store, there are old tapestries with little placards that tell a story of where they’re from, so you get to know of the building more.

What sets the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi apart from other shopping experiences?
I think the quality of the products sets it apart as well as the architecture and interior of the store as it’s quite distinct and unique. The service is something special as well. The sales associate I met was so helpful and friendly.

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Tell us about your top three most memorable moments in Venice.
The sunrise on the second day while we were shooting in Salute on one of the piers was so, so gorgeous! I also really enjoyed the music school, Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello, where we filmed. That was one of my favorite places. In the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello, I heard classical music playing in the background just as the morning light was hitting the walls. I feel like music is everywhere in Venice. There were so many people playing music on the streets. When you are walking around, the background music just enhances all of your senses. But, for me, it wasn’t just three memorable moments — there was also exploring the narrow alleys, watching the sunset from the Fondaco rooftop, laughing with the local people I met… I loved every moment of it.

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