Venice – The City of Love

The romanticism of Venice is much publicized, sold as perfect romantic destination it is easy to fall for the charms of this City of Love. In our itinerary to Italy, Venice was the second destination after Rome.

Arriving by train from Rome to Venice, we were pretty confused about our travel. However, unlike other travelers who weren’t sure if it was Venice Mestere or Venice Santa Lucia where they had to get, we knew our destination. You see, Venice has two railway stations, Mestre falls in the mainland while Santa Lucia is bang in Venice, after crossing a big bridge over the sea. Getting down from the train, the next complex decision was to buy travel tickets for local travel.

Local Travel – What is and Whats not?

What is, is a number of travel cards for tourists are available. Whats not available is simpler help to pick the right one. We had the following options available to pick from:

  • Buy Travelcards – I guess this is the most straightforward deal, with vaporetti travel tickets to move around. A day pass is worth 20 EUR
  • Venice Card – Set of options to choose from, various discounts. Valid minimum three days and is from 39 EUR onwards for adults above 30 years. Visit http://www.veniceconnected.com/ for details
  • Venice connected – A card with focus on specific themes, and includes connectivity to municipal wi-fi. Visit http://www.hellovenezia.com/ for details.
  • Rolling Venice card – 3 days of travel and some limited discounts for people between 6 to 29 years of age. At 22 EUR, we picked this deal. Cannot comment if this is the best one of the lot, but it did make cost sense when compared to a travel card

One must not forget, that while local transport is included in these travel offers, most of them do not offer a airport service, for that one may need to pay extra.

And Venice

Its a funny feeling, the buildings are normal, but as you just walk out you realize that there are no streets but water in them. The first impression, after walking out of the station was extraordinary. Taking the Vaporetti we moved to our hotel, the Ca’dei Dogi which is right on the corner of the Saint Marco’s Square.

We were offered a room which was more like an attic, but it was cute and used the limited  space very well. After a quick reboot, we ventured out into the bylanes. It is often adviced to tourists that the by-lanes of Venice might make you lose your way. However, it is also one of the best ways to experience Venice. In fact, I felt perfectly at home with the lanes reminding me of India. It is important to keep a sense of direction, most common markers on the streets are towards Rialto or Marco’s Square.

Navigating through these lanes, we entered the Piazza San Marco from somewhere in the middle. The huge galleries made during the french rule, ending with the San Marco Basilica is the center-piece in this town. In late autumn, the square is often submerged in water. The square is the witness to the famous St. Marks Basilica. With restaurants on the side with live Piano music, and crowded lanes on that evening it was a beautiful sight.

San Marco's Square in Venice
San Marco’s Square in Venice

We opted to get on top of the Bell tower, it was worth going up. The tower is probably the highest point in the town and you could look down on the houses, basilica and across the grand canal overlooking the next set of islands.

It was already past sunset when we got down and took a stroll to the canal, and took a boat to the Rialto bridge. Venice at night time is a mixture of a few specially well lit buildings and entirely dark areas.

It feels different, and the evening breeze was relaxing. Getting down at Rialto, I could remember something from the play Merchant of Venice, this was a main market area. At night, this place was bustling long after the market was closed.

Venice at night from the Rialto
Venice at night from the Rialto

We walked ahead only to discover bustling night life around the watering holes, venturing in one such place we tried the famous aperitif called the Venice Spritz.It was an interesting concoction. By this time, it was pretty late and we were quite tired, thus we took the next Vaporetti back to our hotel.

Murano and the likes

The next day, I took an early morning stroll on the canal side, this was the only time when Venice was a calm place the tourist crowds were yet to descend on the square. I attempted a few pictures on the cloudy morning. Post breakfast the next destination was Murano Islands, the particularly popular destination around 40 minutes from Venice. Murano is famous for its glass making industry, it is said that glassmakers were banished from Venice on the account of the frequent fires caused by their furnaces.

Murano Island
Murano Island

Murano itself is sparsely populated, it does not have the crowds that Venice attracts. We took a stroll on the main island, peeking into different shops selling Murano glass wares. In a couple of places we also witnessed a demonstration on how they work with class from sand and finally giving it the right shapes and coloring it to form the perfect crockery, showpieces and even jewelry. I must tell you it is not an easy skill to acquire.

We also purchased a few souvenirs from the Glass museum’s shop, after a short stroll in the town we left for Venice once again.

We also wanted to visit Lido beach, but were running a bit short on time specially with the airport being miles away. Then there was the Gondola ride too, how could one miss that? With the number of Gondoliers artificially restricted to around 500, the prices of a short trip hover from 80 EUR onwards, it is not cheap and am sure locals never venture near these guys. But we did, and it was fun.

Travelling in the narrow Venetian canals in a Gondola
Travelling in the narrow Venetian canals in a Gondola

Our Gondolier was an iPhone toting fellow, and he took us around the Grand canal and some narrow bylanes of the town. No, he did not sing, but then I wished for peace in that journey. The ride did remind of the famous Amitabh Bachchan’s song filmed on a Gondola ride.

After the ride, it was the time for souvenir hunting. The funny thing about Venice is, that one does not see any other form of Industry except for Mask souvenir sellers, food joints and a few branded stores. There is absolutely no other form of economic activity going on, after around 15 minutes of mask hunting my brain had stopped registering the difference between masks! Luckily, wifey could find something which fit the bill.

The gondolier
The gondolier

Post souvenir hunting, we returned to our hotel to catch the Blue line boat to the airport. Its a funny feeling to visit your airport on a boat, after 1 hr 20 minutes we arrived at the San Marco Airport.

Venice indeed has its own charm, which words cannot describe, it is an experience to have and a discovery to be made.

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