13 October 2007

Exploring Venice

Excessively early on the morning of Friday, 5 October we headed for the Charles de Gaulle airport. Indeed, it was so early that we had to take a taxi because the Metro and the shuttle buses weren't running yet. Now that's early!

Even so Alicia was happy because we were finally going to Venice, a city she selected to visit based upon the number of novels she has read that have been based there. And based on the fact that she heard Italian men are very cute. (Note: We discovered that not only are they cute, but they love to flirt as well.)

After arriving at the Venice airport we purchased tickets for the vaporetti (water bus) to Lido Island where our hotel was located. (By the way, when you see the ticket windows for transportation in the airport just keep walking. Those are the more expensive options. Follow the signs for Water Bus and buy your €12 tickets there instead!)

We waited on the floating dock for about 20 minutes until the next one arrived. At which time I began to discover a potential problem with visiting Venice. I get pretty extreme motion sickness. This was confirmed by the 35 minute ride to Lido after which I needed a good hour of recovery before I felt well enough to do anything at all.

Venice is not the best place for people who have motion sickness.

However, we had made it.

After checking into our hotel we ate a quick and early lunch and before heading into Venice. Our plan was to see the Gallerie dell'Accademia (Academy of Fine Arts). GLH would be joining us that evening and I knew it would be best to get the art museum done before he joined us.

Not that GLH dislikes art museums. Quite the contrary. But I discovered at the Zürich Kunsthaus that Alicia is one of the slowest museum viewers I had ever met in my life. The Zürich Kunsthaus is very small and most spend an hour or less viewing the collection. But it took Alicia over 2 hours to visit it because she stops and studies EVERY SINGLE PIECE and she reads EVERY SINGLE LABEL and listens to ALL AUDIO DESCRIPTIONS IN FULL. Plus she's got short legs and walks slowly.

True, I'm a fast museum visitor mostly because slow walking hurts my back and because I have ADHD. But still!

In Paris I was careful to bring along something to read and would say "I'll meet you here when you are done." But I knew that GLH would have very limited patience for Alicia's Extremely Slow Museum Approach and I thought it best to get it out of the way. Plus I was almost done with a rather thrilling book and wanted a chance to finish it!

After the Accademia we went for a wander through Venice with no particular location in mind. I was astounded at how many gondolas there are and the fact that they could manuever so well in such crowded situations.

I also fell in love with the many alley ways and took loads of pictures of things such as people's laundry hanging out to dry...

We happened upon Piazza San Marco and I decided I could use a spot of tea and a bite of something sweet to eat.

So we sat at an outdoor café directly across from the Basilica and the Doges' Palace and did some people watching. I ordered my tea and sweet while Alicia sat beside me and pursued the guidebook. When the bill arrived I was shocked to discover it was over €20! I knew when I ordered that the food was a little pricey, but I had no idea that they would also charge both of us €4 just for sitting! I then and there vowed that I would be using their restroom any time I happened to be in the area for the rest of my life because I had already prepaid for it!

We then headed back to the vaporetti stop and the blessedly short trip to Lido for dinner and to wait for GLH's arrival from the airport.

The following morning we got an early start and headed for the island of Burano. Yes, it begins with a "B" and not an "M" because we are talking about the lace makers' island, not the one for glass.

We loved Burano! It was such a sweet, friendly and colorful island. Plus the lace houses were beautiful. And look! They also had alleys that made great photo ops!

Unfortunately while we were on the island the weather turned very cold. The original plan was to spend the morning on Burano and have some lunch before going on to Murano for the afternoon. But after lunch it began to pelt down rain and hail. As we were all wearing summery clothes, we nixed Murano for the day and headed back to Lido for a change. We napped until the weather cleared up.

That evening we had made dinner reservations at San Trovaso (Rio di San Trovaso, Dorsoduro 1016) based upon the recommendation of our friends, Laurie and Iain. It was a fabulous meal with great wine, good service and spectacular desserts. (Reservations strongly recommended as it is popular with tourists and locals!) Here's a photo taken just outside the restaurant at dusk.

After dinner we were slightly tipsy and I proposed that a gondola ride at night after one has had good food and wine was the best way to go.

As it was past 10 pm most of the gondolas were parked for the night, but we found one gondalier who was still taking passengers. And late at night is definitely the best time for this!

Not only is Venice gorgeous at night and the best way to see Venice is from the rivers and canals. But late at night when there is little other traffic the water looks like glass and it is a smooth and beautiful ride. Plus with so few people around you do not feel as if your ride is intended for public display. Although it is more expensive to ride past 8 pm, so those on a budget may wish to keep that in mind.

While drifting along we chatted with our gondalier...

(Sorry for the blurry quality, but I thought it best NOT to use flash while he was punting us along!)

He is the third generation of gondaliers in his family and has been ferrying passengers through the canals since he was 16 years old. He explained that it is the law that all gondaliers must be Venetian by birth and most come from families that have been doing this for several generations.

The following morning we got an early start and took our luggage to the airport. We checked it for the day and then headed for Murano Island and the world famous glass making factories.

After watching a demonstration we wandered through the factory's showrooms.

Although we were a little put off by how pushy the salespeople were. That did seem to be the way of it on Murano in general. Have to admit Murano was disappointing. The salespeople were much pushier and nowhere near as friendly as those on Burano. Plus it wasn't nearly as charming or pretty. My advice? If you have time for only one island, go with Burano.

Back in Venice we tried to find Piazza San Marco, but kept going down twisting alleys that lead us the wrong way or into dead ends. Finally we decided that a leisurely stroll through the city when one is actually trying to get somewhere isn't very productive and we had limited time before we had to get back to the airport for our flight. So we hopped a packed-to-the-gills vaporetti and went that way.

Back at Piazza San Marco we quickly decided to see the Basilica and then if we still had time we would go to Palazzo Ducale (Doges' Palace).

The Basilica is beautiful, but not terribly large so we got into the line for the Palace.

But to have time we had to keep Alicia moving. No stopping and reading every single sign on this visit. Plus we were trying to keep ahead of the multiple tourist groups that kept getting in our way.

But we managed to see all of the Palace (no photos allowed inside)...

...including a walk across the Bridge of Sighs into the old Prison...

...before calling it a day and heading back to the airport.

Alicia was a bit breathless by our pace. It was definitely the fastest that she has ever viewed any museum in her life!


Expat Traveler said...

All I can say is that even with the cold weather, you ended up with some million dollar pics! I loved them, thanks for sharing!

A Librarian said...

It is really hard hanging out with giants:P

A Librarian said...

Have I mentioned that I would marry Venice if I could?

Global Librarian said...


And thanks for the compliment, Expat Traveler!