Vibrant Venice in A Day
A grand tour of Italy had been on our travel wish list for years. So, when it came to deciding the destination of our first big vacation after moving to France, Italy was a clear and unanimous winner. We decided to start up north in Venice and make our way down Italy. Well, the fact that we were getting cheap air tickets into Venice made us decide, I should say. :P And, when it is a cheap ticket you are either flying out really early or getting in really late.
We landed at Marco Polo airport a little after 10 pm, which meant by the time we collected our baggage, got into the water taxi (they do not run as frequently that late into the night just FYI) and reached our water taxi stop, it was around midnight. Our B&B was about a 12 minute walk from our stop, no biggie, right?! We are used to way more, we should have been fine. What we did not realize was that a 12 minute walk in Venice, with luggage, and one very sleepy toddler, up and down steps on countless little bridges & no porters around to help is not your usual 12 minute walk. Not to mention, finding our way around Venice and its tiny streets for the very first time in the dark. The 12 minute walk ended up being a 30 to 40 minute walk. :P Not an ideal start but, who cared!! We were in Venice!!! :D
What are the chances we arrive in a new city and we were not hungry? None. After checking in we asked the owner where we could find food. He looked at his watch and said, "1 O'clock, hmm, Mascareta if you run!" We literally ran, and we could see light at the end of this small dark street and hear some loud Italian voices. Clearly, this place was popular with the locals. We enter and the owner greets us and just by looking at us he knew we were not there just for drinks. LOL. He tells us the kitchen is closed but, he will check to see what he can do for us. (That's Italy for you <3) Our fingers were crossed. He comes back and informs us that all he can serve us is Spaghetti Bolognese and Eggplant Parmigiana. SCORE!! One of each please! Best Spaghetti Bolognese ever. No Exaggeration. If it wasn't for the crazy and tiring start to the trip we probably would have never tried this amazing place. It was meant to be :P
Our B&B was in this old building, nothing fancy, but super comfortable and above all the reason we booked here - its proximity to everything and the view we had from our suite. I dig for views in general but, to be honest, when you are travelling with children you inevitably will be in your room a little more than you like or want to sometimes and a room with a view is the only way you still get to enjoy the place while the kids get their much needed down time.
B&B San Firmino, Venice
It was a bright and beautiful day in Venice and the morning was well spent visiting all the must see sights like Doge's Palace & Bisilica de San Marco, all pretty much in or around St Mark's Square. Based on our research, tickets to most of these sights were easy to get on the spot without long wait times in late October. If you are visiting in peak Summer months, you probably want to purchase them ahead of time online.
We had lunch at one of the many tourist trap restaurants along The Grande Canal. Nothing to write home about, average food for way more than average price, with hidden cover charge, service charge, and "you are a tourist, let's rob you charge." Thanks to the 1 Euro gelatos throughout the day, we were able to digest the over priced lunch. :P Save yourself the bad food and some money, and walk awayyyy from canal and forego the views for real food.
Piazza San Marco
Venice is beautiful anytime of the day, but to me it's at its best after dark when all the lights reflect in the waters of the canals. Because of this we saved our Gondola ride for the evening. Until 2014 October, you could pay anywhere from 40 Euros to 120 Euros for a ride based on the number of people, duration of the ride, and whether or not you wanted to be serenaded by your Gondolier. It is one of those things that you just HAVE to do when in Venice. If you are on a budget, do not be discouraged, it pays to negotiate and try to ride when the Gondoliers are not too busy. They would rather make some money than not ;) It is also a good way to be away from the guys who are relentlessly harassing you into buying a rose :P
The Grande Canal
at night from Rialto Bridge
Dinner was another average and not so satisfying meal at a place not worth a mention. We went back to Mascareta for round two. We just had to have that Spaghetti Bolognese again. We spent some time souvenir and window shopping after dinner and called it a night. If we had another day in Venice, we probably would have made our way to the Island of Murano for its world famous Murano glassware and colorful cityscape.
We were back at the airport next morning to pick up our rental car for the remainder of our Italian adventure.