Twilight Trip to Europe – Venice

(originally posted on Blogger on June 30, 2010)

Now that you’ve read about my London trip here’s

Venice

One small note before I start – I managed to have internet access almost the whole time I was away. How? Mr. TC downloaded a program into his phone that allowed him to make his phone a Wifi hotspot with any SIM card. All we did was hunt down a SIM card in Italy and we were set. Even managed to use our laptops off it. So lucky to have a computer guy husband!

Flight

We took a taxi from our hotel to the Victoria tube Station and then took the express train to Gatwick Airport. Remember you can buy tickets on the train if you’re in a rush.

walkway to British Airways gate – like those things you drop pennies into
my Dad would love this conveyor belt

For those of you who haven’t been to Venice before it’s definitely unique.
Assuming you are staying in the heart of touristy Venice imagine that you are stay on a huge island shaped like a fish.
That island is actually made up of many smaller islands connected by foot bridges and the bigger gaps/canals are connected by a few big bridges. The network of waterways surrounding all these mini islands becomes your road network on the island of Venice and thus you travel by boat and there are no cars.
You can of course walk all over Venice and get blissfully lost. Our tour guide reminded me, the type A person, not to worry about getting lost in Venice as “you’re on an island, how far could you actually go?”

Getting from Marco Polo Airport to the heart of Venice

We decided to take a boat from the dock near the airport to the touristy island of Venice.
The tourist information desk at the Venice airport is very helpful and I headed straight there after customs. You can buy tickets for the Alilaguna boat which is the cheapest way to get to Venice by boat so you get the awesome approach by water. She told us which route to take and which stop to get off at and how long the walk would be to the hotel.
Note we did not take a private water taxi – super expensive but direct.
It is really an easy 5 minute walk to the dock.

quite comfortable inside, not seasick at all

The boat stopped along the way at Murano so it was good to have a peek at the outside of the famous glass factories.
The locals on the boat did not like to be sprayed with water and after seeing the amount of debris in the Canal I felt the same way.

Hotel

Let me preface things by saying almost all our hotels in Italy were found (but not booked) through this awesome site called Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Yes I’m sure they’re named after

They go undercover around the world discovering luxury boutique hotels and I thought for our 10th anniversary trip it would be nice to splurge and book some of their favourites.

We stayed at a hotel in the Dorsoduro section of Venice which is south of the main touristy area and connected by the Accademia footbridge to the tourist spots.

As directed by the tourist information desk at the airport we got off at the Zattere stop and easily walked about 10 minutes to our hotel. Once again thank god for good wheels on my luggage. The Venice map was misleading and things were a lot closer together than I thought they would be – nice surprise for those of us with short legs.

Our hotel – Charming House DD724

Tucked away in a small alley
Boutique hotel with a B&B feel
Front desk was helpful especially Irina
They do have a staff only elevator but the front desk guy carried my luggage up the three flights.
Air-conditioned of course.
Equipped with mosquito repellent devices in the room because your room overlooks a canal (not needed on our trip)
Modern room and washroom
Free Wi-fi

love the modern feel in an old city
tea in the room – love the heart shaped sugar packets

Oddly the toilet paper was “probiotic” and actually supposed to be good for our skin

Views from our room
my arm is holding the camera out the window – hate heights!
the restaurant in this pic Le Gondoliere is supposed to be good

Breakfast

Daily breakfast was included and very good.
Hot scrambled eggs and bacon
Muesli, assorted cereals, yoghurt
My favourite every morning was having apricot juice

The sweet lady who did the breakfast didn’t speak English but managed to remember everyday that my husband likes cappuccino and I like tea.

Breakfast dining room
yum yum
common room – library and TV

Food

For dinner our first night we headed towards Zattere again as it is beautiful to stroll along.

We ended up at a nice but expensive (this is a given in Venice anyways) restaurant called Linea Dombra

It is set over the water and beautiful at night
those prices are in Euros just for starters!

We both had a traditional spritz drink to start.
Total Twi-moment – anyone read the epic and awesome fanfic Emancipation Proclamation by kharizzmatik? Bella plays a modern day slave to this italian mafia family and has to learn to make this drink for Carlisle; Edward is a mafia prince and a son in the family Bella ends up enslaved into. If you haven’t read the story dedicate a weekend and get out the kleenex and enjoy the angst.

traditional spritz aperitiv
spider crab salad on a phyllo pastry – so good

Once of my favourite dishes the whole italy trip was homemade pasta:

Homemade tonnarelli in clam sauce – one of my favourite dishes

Next day my husband headed out to the supermarket (8 minute walk) and came back with a feast for brunch in our room

buffalo mozzarella in a tub in Italy still beats anything from Canada

That night for dinner we headed to a more touristy restaurant recommended by our tour guide called Al Casin dei Nobili.

yummy risotto – sorry for the dark picture
next door is famous Gelato Nico – supposedly the best gelato in Venice

Our last night we had dinner literally right next to the hotel – Cantinone Storico – very good

you have to have sardines and onions in Venice – really tasty, watch the bones
very light gnocchi – nice reminder that they are supposed to be light as clouds
fish stew
Mr. TC loved having this dessert – so simple, cherries and melon on ice


Sightseeing

I talked Mr. TC into a tour of Venice. He was adamantly against paying 80 euros for a 45 minute gondola ride so I found a tour that included a gondola ride – yeah!

Our hotel concierge helped us organize a tour through Artviva Tours – they have excellent reviews on tripadvisor. They do tours in Florence and Rome as well.

I convinced Mr. TC to just do the whole tour – 6 hours worth!

First up – The Original Gondola Tour

We met our tour guide Ziggy (super awesome lady in her 70’s who was fitter than us!) at 2pm and started a gondola tour. Finally got our gondola ride but without the serenade. Frankly I’m glad that we didn’t pay for the private one and I don’t think it would have been as romantic as I had hoped.

The gondola ride portion lasted 35 minutes and then there is a walking portion for 40 minutes.

the front fero – S shape imitates winding canal, top is a Doges cap
and the six spokes represent the different areas of Venice
I love the golden seahorse on our gondola
don’t fall in!
How NOT to get/out of gondolas

By the way we learned a lot about gondoliers. It costs almost a million USD for a gondola license but apparently they are able to make it back in 10 years. I understand now why the rides are usually 80 euros each!

Things I learned

– there is only one female gondolier who has ever passed the rigorous exam and she is only ever booked by one hotel in town.

– Venice is famous for having the first Italian woman graduate from university.
– everything in Venice is done off the island – even the laundry from the hotel is shipped off onto the mainland to get done – no wonder it’s so pricey
– the tiny 119 islands that make up Venice are all on a foundation of logs/piles driven in the ground. Crazy when you’re walking around looking at giant palaces imagining that you’re held up by logs.

all the Japanese tours seem to get serenades – it’s lovely
this is seriously the water side entrance to a clothing store
green door on left – where Mozart stayed while enjoying Carnivale here
don’t ask because i don’t know
Our tourguide Ziggy showing a cistern for fresh water collection
famous Venetian opera house recovering after fire
love padlocks on the bridges
maybe they’ll have the Olympics in 2020
This first tour ended in St. Mark’s Square – the main tourist hub where all the pigeons hang out.
St. Mark’s Square
fat pigeons

Next part – The Original Venice Tour

We were handed off to our next tour guide Monica.
Toured the square and learned about history of this area.
There are two giant columns that mark the entrance to Venice from the water – criminals used to be hung between these columns to remind the public to behave. Shudders.

Also went into St. Mark’s Basilica – intricate marble flooring and as a Catholic school raised girl it was awe inspiring to think that St. Mark’s body was in that basilica.

Third part of tour – The Original Doges Palace Tour

Monica led us into the Doges (doe-jays) Palace. Beautiful ceilings and interesting paintings. I am not an art or history buff so I can’t do this section justice.

gorgeous gold ceilings

Creep-tastic part was touring the palace prison. Pleasantly did not smell. We even walked over the famous bridge of sighs where prisoners walk back to their cells after being sentenced and have their last glimpse of the outdoors.

Last part of tour – The Original Grand Canal Tour

We were handed back to Ziggy for an hour long private water taxi ride with narration. It was interesting to hear about who had lived in all the glamourous homes lining the canal and also the history of the bridges and local people.
We had about 15 people on this boat including another doctor from Canada who brought his three kids. It was fun.

oh wedding photos – so sweet
real chandeliers in this ballroom with a classic annual ball
cool modern ad canal
Elton John’s house
newest bridge over the Grand Canal
even the ambulances are on water
a “temporary” bridge built in the 1932
Peggy Guggenheim art museum (her previous residence)
Shopping

Italians take a break midday from 1-5pm. Great since it’s hot as hell but sucks if you’re a tourist with limited time in each place.

Twilight moment

Twilight on DVD in italian

Every time we’d walk by a bookstore (or libreria) my heart would speed up and I couldn’t resist the urge to go in. Just in case there was some Twi-merch

Pay dirt!

the last copy of Twilight in italian this store had

Yes, this is the hardcover book I carried all over Europe for 10 days 🙂

Rialto Market

This is a quintessential tourist thing we had to do. My husband was disappointed. It is a famous fish market but I guess famous back a few hundred years ago isn’t as impressive now.

Yummy sundried tomatoes

Small wild strawberries – apparently super tasty but Mr. TC refused to try them
Fresh fruit cups everywhere

more gelato

Picky about washrooms? If you go on a sidestreet off of St. Mark’s Square find the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant. Order a 5 euro coffee or beer and use their modern clean washroom.

My husband is a huge Beatles fan. He didn’t mind that I wanted a washroom break.

seriously good nougat
hazelnut brittle
condom machine
tons of Barbapapa stuff
that green is the colour of the lizards on V – even too weird for me

Getting around

The vaporetto really is just like a regular bus system. There are express ones that stop at only main ones, they get very crowded at rush hour like midday break, when people get passed by the bus they get upset.

Everything is done by boat – ambulance, police, even construction. Cranes on boats are very cool.
See the garages? Look how they park

another stock photo sorry

Lastly more of my random Venice photos

too pretty there are flowers in so many windows over the canals
The boy with a frog – by an American artist
Zattere for an evening stroll

Next stop? We’re heading on a train to Bologna. What’s in Bologna? FOOD!!!

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Comments
One Response to “Twilight Trip to Europe – Venice”
  1. italyartviva says:

    What a lovely post! Thank you so much for sharing your photos and your experience! We’re looking forward to seeing you again next time you’re in Italy.

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