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Surviving Venice

The Queen of the Adriatic

This harmonious composition of 118 islands, congealed, giving rise to a enigmatic lagoon city, has defined our conception of classical and nostalgic beauty. Although there are many canal cities in the world that boast equivalence, none has truly surpassed its renaissance charm and reputation.

Somehow the effect of cruising along the canals in Amsterdam, Bruges or even Bangkok pales in comparison to maze-like canals in Venice. Why is this so? Venice, unlike its counterparts is deeply rooted in its maritime history, culture and tradition that have been extensively promulgated by movies and media.

From the alluring Masquerade balls and the ubiquitous Gondolas mooring along the canals to the classical beauty of the Doge's palace and St Mark's cathedral, Venice has shaped our idea of Romanticism at its height and will forever endure as the zenith of a once powerful naval and trading city.

Getting there & around

1) Fly in

Almost all commercial and budget airlines across Europe fly into Venice's Marco Polo airport which is located at mainland. From the airport, take the water bus to Venice. Bear in mind that, water taxi is different from water bus and it cost a lot more ( 100 euros for 4 persons with luggage). On the other hand, water bus will get you to your destination with half the price but sans the comfort and speed.

Distance by water bus from airport to St Mark's: 45 minutes

2) Train

The most convenient way of getting into Venice. Get off at St Lucia station and you will find yourself already on the island. Before exiting the station, you can purchase your water bus tickets at the information counter and enquire about discount cards if you are planning on visiting other parts of the islands. The St Lucia pier is located just right outside the station and if you want a quick tour of the grand canal, use either route 1 or 2 (Route 1 stops at every stop whereas route 2 only makes 5 stops which includes the Rialto bridge). Be wary that both routes will make a circular loop around the south of Venice, therefore what should be a 20 minute journey can stretch to 45 minutes if you face the wrong direction.

From St Lucia, the direction towards the grand canal is towards the left. Below is the view just outside of the train station.

The main train station St Lucia as pictured below

3) Water Bus

Getting around Venice can be expensive which is why walking is still the best way to get around and it is pleasant experience as there are no cars.

Water bus is also known as Vaporetti and a single trip anywhere around Venice will cost 7 euros. Remember to tap on at the pier before getting on the boat to avoid exorbitant fines.

Purchasing a travel card is also recommended if you are going to be staying for a longer duration.

Fares last checked January 2017

1 Day Travelcard - €20

2 Day Travelcard - €30

3 Day Travelcard - €40

7 Day Travelcard - €60

Home Away From Home

Accommodation in Venice is inexorably expensive due to the fact that land and space are both scarce which makes rental rate close to unthinkable. My first trip to Venice had me staying at San Gallo, only a stone throw away from St Mark's square and Hard Rock Venice, but it is rather pricy for budget travelers.

This time around, we chose Locanda Casa Petrarca. It was certainly a task to locate it but once uncovered this quaint hotel is, situated close to San Gallo, offers a secluded and tranquil stay, away from the rowdy tourists. At times, depending on your luck, you can even hear the serenade of Gondoliers as the hotel is located right next to the canal.

This 7 room hotel is very well kept and affordable (260 euros for 2 nights). As for breakfast, do not expect variety, instead settle for simplicity. They usually serve the same breakfast everyday but, for the price we were paying, we were lucky to get a decent breakfast that could sustain us throughout the day.

Tips: When booking a room, be sure to specify/look out for a rooms that comes with attached bathroom. If not, you will find yourself walking across the hallway to get to the communal bathroom which is shared by another guest, although, it is surprisingly very clean and spotless!

Eating out

Although most restaurants in Venice are rather expensive, there are many cheap eateries situated in the nooks and crannies of the city. Just be sure to mark down their location on your map to be able to return to it again.

1) Acqua & Mais (Budget)

This snack bar is one of my favorites, serving up delicious grilled/fried seafood, vegetables and Italian beer at a reasonable price. This quaint snack bar is located in San Polo sestieri. If you are looking for a meal that both satisfying and easy on your wallet, then this is definitely the right place.

2) Cantina do Spade (Budget)

This is another cafe/bar that has received good reviews from travelers for its varied wine selections, delicious fried seafood and great local ambience.

3) Bacareto de Lela (Budget)

Rated as one of the most popular pubs by students and budget travelers, this tiny grub has been attracting thousands of tourists for its ridiculously cheap local beers, wine and sandwiches, all for less than 1 euros! The unmistakable long queue extending into a piazza facing the San Nicolada Tolentino church is enough to stir curiosity and pull anyone in. Although, the pub is only big enough to accommodate less than 15 people, its ideal location at the corner of a vast piazza with the view of the canal provides sufficient room for everyone to enjoy their drinks and meals, if you exclude the usual dining comfort from your expectations.

4) Campo Santo Stefano (Splurge)

Venture out of the habitual bustle of San Marco to find hidden gastronomical gems that cook up delicious Italian meals at a tranquil location away from the hustle & bustle of the main attractions. There are 3 restaurants here, offering variety of meal selections at a rate much like most fine dining in Venice. If you are looking for a relaxed dining experience sans the anxiety of splurging, then be sure to mark this spot on your map.

Shop, Shop, Shop!!

1) Murano glass

Ubiquitous throughout Venice, the multicolored glass works from the famous century old Murano factory has become part of Venice's enduring symbols. A visit to the glass factory in Murano, to observe the art and techniques utilized in glass-blowing is worthwhile. Be aware that, Murano glassworks are expensive and that any venders claiming to see the real deal at a heavy discount should ring alarm bells.

Here is how to recognize an authentic Murano glassworks:

http://www.muranoglass.com/murano/eng/uso.htm#.WI8EsVN97IU

Getting to Murano island

Use the Vaporetti:

From Piazzale Roma: Line 4.1 or Line 4.2, Museo Murano stop

From Santa Lucia Railway Station: Line 4.1 or Line 4.2, Museo Murano stop

Admission fee: 10 euros 2) Venetian mask

Parallel to the century old Venice Carnival in honor of the victory of the Republic of Venice against the Patriarch of Acquileia, this masquerade festival, not only defining the image of Venice's in the world's platform, has wrought a sense of enigma and mystery in its celebrations with the various types of mask used as a disguise in order to engage in acts of pleasure and license.

Festivals

1) Regata 'Storica is held on the first Sunday of every September. Celebrating a historic event from 1489, the regatta displays almost a hundred varieties of venetian boats from the city's rich past. Large oarships are rowed along the Canal Grande, followed by many smaller boats. There are several races, including a master championship for solo sculling in streamlined gondolini, painted in unusual white, pink, etc. colours.

2) Carnival of Venice is one of the most popular carnival of the world held anually and ends with the celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter, on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday. First organised on 1926 this carnival is particularly famous for its exhibit of elaborate, gaudy and flamboyant Venetian masks worn by the participants. During the carnival, visitors are allowed to carry out unusual behaviours.

Check out the website below for more information on Venice's annual events

http://www.carnevale.venezia.it/en/events-list/

 

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