Venice, Italy

Visiting Venice at the beginning of my retirement celebration cruise 3 years ago is one of the reasons I fell in love with travel. I simply had to return; since we were in the neighborhood, why not stop by?

Our last stop was Zagreb. Getting from Zagreb to Venice by train didn’t work for us, so we took the FlixBus. Let’s just say it, it was a very, very long drive. The bus was nice, but we ran into some horrid traffic that turned our 6+ hour bus ride into an 8+ hour ride. Unlike the bus trip from Budapest to Zagreb, there were no stops along the way where we could get out and stretch our legs and use the toilet. Actually, we did stop twice to cross the border from Croatia into Italy, but just long enough to file off the bus, get our passports stamped, and return to the bus. We also had three stops to pick up more passengers, but we could not get off the bus while they loaded. We left Zagreb at 7:30 am and arrived at our B&B (near the Rialto Bridge) at around 5:30. Normally, we try to keep our travel time under 6 hours…

During our first visit, we visited the tourist places (St. Mark’s, Doges Palace, Murano, etc.) and did a walking tour. I wrote about our visit on my blog (Venice). Unfortunately, I took down my pictures before our second big trip so I wouldn’t run out of space on WordPress. At that time, I didn’t know about resizing pictures, and the photos I had posted were eating up tons of space. I would put them back up, but my hard drive crashed and I lost them all.

This time around, we just want to ride the vaporettos and soak up the atmosphere here. Of course, I will eat plenty of lasagna (and probably drink a little vino as well)!

Part of what I find fascinating about Venice is how the city functions being completely dependent on boats. I had not really thought about how products come in to town, how emergency vehicles operate, or any of those other mundane parts of life. I took a few pictures to capture what I am talking about. Boats are loaded and the goods are taken to be off-loaded. At that point, men with carts pile up the goods and move them up and down stairs to get across the many bridges that exist between the grand canal and their final destination. We saw some DHL boats – who knew that such a thing existed? Next to the hospital is a line of ambulance boats. And, we found the cop shop.

 

I bet the guy with the big suitcase wished that he had packed lighter!

I took many pictures of gondolas because what else are you going to take pictures of in Venice? The cost of riding a gondola is exorbitant, but for many, a visit to Venice would not be complete without experiencing a ride.

 

Traffic jam, Venice style:

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Also cool are the water taxis; pricy, but cool!

If you don’t want to pay for a gondola ride, take a vaporetto ride down the grand canal instead. The #2 vaporetto makes a large circle that starts at St. Marks, travels the length of the canal, and then loops around the outside of Venice, giving you spectacular views all along the way.

 

Every city must have a horsy statue!

Everywhere you look here, there is beauty. Masks are for sale everywhere. The tourist-grade ones are most likely made in China, but you can find some authentic ones sprinkled in here and there at specialty shops. They obviously cost much, much more than the cheap ones on the street. Much of what is sold as Murano glass around town is fake as well; the actual product is exceedingly expensive.

Speaking of costs, dining out can be a little pricy here. The last time we were here, we were told that there were three pricing structures. The cheapest way to eat is standing up at the bar; next cheapest is seated at a table inside; and the most expensive is to eat al fresco. This trip, we did not see anywhere that eating at the bar was even an option. We did notice, however, a dramatic difference in price for eating in vs. takeaway. We wanted to buy some sodas at one café. The price listed was 2.5 Euros each. However, if we wanted to drink them at the tables outside, the cost was 5 Euros per. A 100% markup! It makes perfect sense for the business owners to do things this way. Buyer beware.

Many restaurants and cafés will offer an all-inclusive tourist menu which usually includes a main course and a drink for 10 to 20 Euros. The drinks that come with these are so small that you will want to buy another. The cost of the second drink? From 5 to 10 Euros! Obviously, this is how they make their money.

When we visited in 2015, we took a side trip to Murano. This time around, we wanted to visit Burano. Murano is known for its glass-blowing studios; Burano for its lace and charming, colorful buildings. The paint is used to distinguish one home from another since they are all connected.

To reach Burano, you can take the #12 vaporetto from Fondamente Nove, dock A. If you have purchased a Venezia Unica pass (and you should), the cost is included. We caught the 9:10 boat and rode for about 45 minutes before reaching Burano. Along the way, we passed the cemetery island, San Michele, and stopped at Murano.

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I was very impressed with these two, especially considering that we are not in a canal; we are in open sea.

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I took a few pictures of Murano as we passed by:

A “roadside” chapel:

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Waterfront property! The pilings are the highway “lanes”:

A couple of stops along the way. Can you spot the lazy fisherman?

And, we’ve arrived! Burano is exceedingly charming. To reach the town square, you will pass by some lace shops and cafés.

There is not much to “do” here other than enjoy the scenery and, of course, eat. Fresh fish is a specialty at the local restaurants. By the way, I did not “enhance” my photos at all; these are the actual colors!

There is a leaning tower here, just like Pisa (except much less famous). I kept taking pictures of it from varying angles trying to capture the “tilt”, but it is really hard to tell how tilted it is from my photos.

It was recycling day. People had bags of plastic bottles, etc. tied to their fences. The recycling guy picked them up and added them to his cart.

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Fresh pomegranate and unripe cherries (I think; I thought they looked like olives, but the ripe ones were definitely red):

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Vaporettos run approximately every 30 minutes so we didn’t have to wait too long when we decided to head back. When we passed San Michele this time, Clayton spotted a funeral boat bringing a casket to the island.

Venice is such a lovely city, but if you visit during the summer, expect it to be overrun with tourists. There are crowds almost everywhere. But, there is so much to enjoy here as well. We did not visit art galleries, but if art is your thing, there are plenty of places to go. Same with music. And, of course, there are many, many restaurants with incredible food. Ride the vaporettos, get lost wandering around the narrow streets and alleyways, sit and watch the hordes of tourists go by. You won’t get lost (at least not for long); just keep walking and you will end up at St. Marks, or the Rialto Bridge, or some other recognizable landmark.