Water, water, everywhere. Don't get me wrong, Venice is associated with canals, so I knew there would be a large number of boats, but I never really quite thought that concept through, until landing at Marco Polo International. How does one get from the terminal to your hotel? Via water taxi of course. Don't fret, it is all rather easy. Upon departing from the luggage bay, follow the blue signs to WATER TAXI. You don't need to worry about standing in line for a ticket, simply use one of the many kiosks set up for whichever line your hotel happens to be on. There is a very nice map, should you not already know the answer.
This is an incredible way to enter such a magical land. It took about an hour to go from the airport to Lido, where I was staying, and in the process I got a great feel for the layout of the city. We stopped at Murano, the island famous for it's glass, cruised around the main island, past the grand canal and a good many others, past the harbor and across the strait to this bucolic hamlet of residences and vast beaches. Lido Santa Maria is quite spacious and includes a car-taxi stand and bus terminal as well as the water taxi port; I however, only had to walk a few blocks to my accommodation, a lovely hotel called the Hungarian Palace. This island across Laguna Veneta from where all the action is, was a quiet reprieve to get my bearings on Italian life. Having arrived in February, it was cold and damp, but this is where all good Venetians come during the summer to soak up the sun on never ending beaches which surround the island. Though quiet season, there were plenty of cafes and shops open to peruse. Ristorante Gran Viale, just a short walk from the ferry, had a line out the door and is surely a local favorite. My meal was fabulous and the wait staff was more than accommodating through my basic Italian.
Heading out the next morning, felt like magic. A short 5 minute walk to the terminal with my luggage, I was set for the Grand Canal, to take my taxi to the Santa Lucia train station, which is just about the last stop. Here I would store my luggage for the day, a great way to keep your hands free while you peruse the day away. You will find luggage storage near the shops on the inside station, right hand area, just past the toilets. On this note, keep some euro's handy when using public restrooms, as you need a few coins to get you in. My plan was to then catch the water taxi again, returning to just about the beginning of the Grand Canal, San Marco. There are two stops here, I opted for the second, as it lands you just in front of Saint Marks Basilica and a huge square full of vendors and performers, to begin your days adventure.
For many, the gondola ride is the number one thing to do whilst in Venice, I however opted against. Even in February, the lines were long and the price is very expensive ( this does change based on day and time and weather, but on my trip, $200 pp for 30 minutes was the average) ...and quite frankly, taking the water taxi was just as fabulous at a fraction of the cost. From San Marco you can wander back to the train station in 3- 4 hours of a leisurely pace. This passes you through lovely smaller canals and foot path's with innumerable instagrammable moments. A sure win. These windy passages are incredible and mesmerizing, and as long as you follow the signs for " Alla Ferrovia" you will eventually find the train station again. Though it does seem like a never ending maze, you can always stop for a beer or coffee in any of the nooks and crannies you find along the way. There is no end to adorable shops to keep you and your camera amused for many, many hours. As a treat, I do recommend spending your money in the iconic Harry's Bar. The creator of the Bellini and famous for it's carpaccio and celebrity citing's, this tiny enclave brings you back to the roaring 20's and all the associated nostalgia. A definite must while visiting this historic and fascinating city built on stilts. With a never ending array of historic monuments and sculptures, every turn brings something new.
I would be heading off to another small town to visit a friend, about an hour away, then heading to Rome the next day, for another adventure. Italian Rail is very easy to use, no need to purchase tickets in advance and there are always helpful folks to answer any questions when using the kiosk. Venice has captured my heart and I am sure I will be back to explore more in the future. There is a romance and je ne c'est pas about this renaissance city, which latches on the moment you arrive. Breathtakingly beautiful with fabulous food and amazing history, to boot, an easy location to spend a day, perhaps even a week on your own, or with a loved one.
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