This weekend (rather, my incredibly generous and gold-hearted lover) took me on a plane to Venezia for the weekend; that’s Venice to you & I.
3.45am; Up, scramble, leave.
Arriving at Gatwick without a satnav was a feat in itself, even if it was an easy journey. Arriving in plenty of time, whilst still trying to digest our 30-second-cereal, we sifted through security and got on our Monarch flight towards Marco Polo. A quick review on Monarch airlines – reasonable price I would imagine, not much leg room, does the job. Hope that’s summed it up right. Once at Marco Polo, we headed out of the airport to one of the ATVO coaches that come fairly regularly (you can get a return ticket from one of the booths inside the airport for €9 – so keep hold of your ticket for the return journey back to the airport!). So far very easy and hassle free. On we hopped and within, I would say maybe, 20 minutes (?) we arrived at Piazzale Roma. Right. This is where we wished we knew more about what the hell to do to get to our Hotel. Or anywhere, in fact.
What NOT to do/What we did:
1. Get off the bus and go buy a map (this you should definitely still do), but get one of the whole of Venice, not the one we bought which just showed an enlarged version of feature areas or something. Basically, we didn’t look at it for long. This cost us €3 which we later learned would have bought us 2 ice creams instead.
Fail #1 – always start your day with ice cream.
2. Ask directions from the information desk guy, who doesn’t speak English. Our instructions that we printed from the Hotel’s website instructed us to get the ‘ferry’ to where we needed to go.
Me: Excuse me, can you tell me where we can get the ferry? Info guy: Ferro? Me: The ferry? The boat? Info: Ah! Boat! Go road, on the left, PEOPLE MOVER. That, it take you boat.
We went to the People Mover, which is a train that takes you to the Cruise Terminal. We quickly decided that our hotel definitely wasn’t part of a cruise ship, and so went back to Piazzale Roma. Square One.
Fail #2 – €2/1 x ice cream wasted.
3. We walked over the road and found a red building which is their boat public transport system, (which we later learned were called VAPORETTO). Right! Getting somewhere! We asked one of the guys in uniform how we got to our hotel (I say asked… we pointed at the map and said ‘hotel, we need here? Lost, where is boat?). That was Jules by the way, I strongly believe that speaking to them in broken English in an Italian accent is never going to help them understand what we are trying to say. (But it is extremely funny!!). We walked up to boats 4.2 and 5.2 which we were told would take us to Madonna dell’Orto, which is the stop-off nearest our Hotel (if you’re looking at a map right now, it’s right at the top). This was the one on the very end, round the corner which we didn’t know about at first. Lugging our bags back and forth, and sweating a little under the heat, we got there. No ticket machine. So we walked all the way back again. We walked back and forth about 4 times in confusion and decided to go on one of the private water taxis who said they’d take us right to our hotel for €55 or there abouts. They all charge different amounts, and there is some room for bartering, so give it a go! As we were on a time limit of approximately 24 hours in Venice, we didn’t want to waste any more time queuing and trying to work out the Vaporetto. And right to our hotel they took us as well, and the ride was quite fun, so I would say it was worth it. Had we had more time, though, I would say definitely save your money and try to work out the Vaporetto system! There is a red building in front of them all and queues of people, so pretty sure that is where you get your ticket.
Fail #3, miscommunication & putting faith into an Italian.
What you SHOULD do/What we didn’t do:
* Do your research properly before you fly out.
* Find out what the Vaporetto are and how they work.
* Learn Italian.
Once we’d found our feet – yes, I was sporting a summer dress and running shoes – we quickly sussed how to get from our Hotel to San Marco (St Mark’s Square) & the Rialto Bridge. But the real fun is just winding in, out, up & down the tiny streets that hug the square. If you’ve done some reading already, you’ll know to keep away from St Mark’s Square if you are looking for a bite to eat. There are tonnes of little pizza/pasta/seafood restaurants – you can’t miss them – where you can grab a pizza and a beer for less than €10. Skip dessert and have an ice cream, or ‘gelato’, from one fo the many ice cream stalls. There are loads down every street, tonnes of different flavours and varieties. A personal favourite has to be macaroon with Venetian cream! We visited St Mark’s Square later on in the afternoon when it started to cool, and buzzed around with some of the other tourists. A lovely place, but very touristy! A nice man gave me a rose for free Really lovely considering you don’t get much for free these days! What a romantic place. …Until he came back 7 minutes later shouting in Jules’ face “YOU GIVE ME SOMETHING MONEYS?!” Errm, no ta, here’s your rose back weirdo! We also decided that pizza was calling us along the canal, and so found a little strip of restaurants serving dinner on the Grand Canal. I spotted pizza on the board outside, and so we secured a table right next the canal. Perfect!
“You want pizza? You no sit next to canal. You sit inside.”
Evidently we quickly left and decided to give his neighbour some custom.
“You have pizza here? Great! Can we sit by the canal?”
We were sat one table away from the canal, but noticed behind us that there was a spare table right next to it. We asked if we could sit there instead, and share a pizza.
“No. One pizza, one person. No sit by canal and eat pizza, you sit right here.”
By this point it was getting a bit ridiculous! So we can’t eat pizza right next to the canal? WHY. There is no law about this, I’m sure. NEXT.
“Right. Can we sit next to the canal and eat pizza please. And share it.”
Waiter looks at us as if we are mental.
“…Yes?” (Why wouldn’t you be able to do that, you stupid moron tourists.)
Right, so, glad we got to the bottom of that one. Ha! Italians are mental! And also hilarious. The first guy was singing ‘you’re so far away from me, you’re so far away from me’ which I’m pretty sure was his rendition of Dire Straits. Can you trust someone like that?
We also had a private Gondola ride in one of the pretty boats (yay!), which was blissful. So relaxing, and our happy gondalier (not sure if I’ve made that word up or not) was singing and explaining things to us which we didn’t understand. Jules just answered ‘…oh!’ after everything, hahaha. I let him do the talking :p.
Have a nosey through the pics. Venice is a lovely place, so pretty and a lot of character. It is touristy, but if you can look past that then you’ll have a great time. Be merry, eat pizza, gorge ice cream and go on a gondola. Oh, and, make sure the air conditioning works in your hotel room!
Our hotel near Madonna dell’Orto – Hotel Ai Mori d’Oriente (lovely, full of character and good customer service even though we checked out really late! The air con was broken, though, and we woke up sweating! Would definitely come back though!!)
The Madonna dell’Orto Church behind me Me & Jules in St Mark’s Square The Basilica, St Mark’s Square Another shot of the Basilica Jules on St Mark’s Square There is always time for Gelato in Venice Gondola ride? Oh go on then! “Ciao Bella!” This was on one of the boats on the Grand Canal The little mermaid that was ‘steering’ the horses on our Gondola Heading to the Rialto Bridge (such a shame about the graffiti) You know what I said about it being a touristy place…? More shots from the Gondola Me and the boy, who made this amazing weekend happen <;3 Venetian Masks – an iconic element in Venetian history A view of the canal over lunch near our hotel
Seafood spaghetti… oh hey Mr prawn!
A fantastic fleeting weekend.