Venice is an amazing city to visit. The charm of the narrow alleyways, the enchanting canals, the beautiful buildings, and the lack of cars and motorcycles all work together to delight a wandering tourist.
Thursday, June 27, 2019
After taking a morning train from Venice, we arrived a little before lunchtime.
The main way into the city from the train station is by water bus. While there are some hotels closer to the train station, many people (including us) stay closer to St Mark’s Square. We had a delightful ride down the Grand Canal to our stop by the Rialto Bridge.
Our apartment host met us at the water bus station and showed us the easiest way to our apartment, fortunately it was a straight shot from the terminal. The winding alleyways might be cute, but they do set a person up for getting lost. As a bonus, the apartment owner already had our rooms cleaned and we were able to not only just drop off our bags, but fully check in. What an amazing apartment! A huge change from the places we stayed at in Venice during our previous visits there. You can read more about it on my accommodations blog post.
We got situated, then decided to head out from lunch. Knowing that Venice is known for seafoood, we kept our eyes out for something that was a little different from what we had in Rome and Florence.
Eventually, we found a slightly tourist trap place that everyone agreed would be fine since we had little energy to wander and find a better place. They had a choice of seafood spaghetti, ragu spaghetti, or gnocchi for the first course. The seafood spaghetti was great, the rest just so-so. For the second course, we had a choice of sea bass, squid, or steak. James was happy with his olive pizza.
After lunch, the kids spotted a candy shop and wanted to get a few things. Overpriced, but they were happy.
San Marco Square and Basilica San Marco
We then wandered a bit until we reached San Marco Square. Everyone was hot and tired, but we had a 4:00pm appointment to go see the Basilica San Marco, so we stuck it out and didn’t head back to the apartment.
As we waited for our apartment time, we explored the square.
About 3:45pm, we decided to see if they would let us into the Basilica. Beautiful! And a great example of Byzantine architecture. We had seen quite a bit of it while in Turkey, but I don’t think my parents had seen anything like it. Definitely worth a stop, although if you are visiting in the summer, try to make sure that you schedule your day such that you don’t run out of steam before your entry.
From here, we went back to the apartment to rest a bit, but John was starting to feel agitated that he wouldn’t get to spend enough time exploring his favorite city, so the two of us went out on our own. John decided that he was going to be the tour guide and that our goal was to get lost. Once he decided we had succeeded, he used Google maps to get us back. Success!
On our explorations, we popped into random churches and also managed to find an oddly crooked building, which we named “The Leaning Tower of John.”
As we made our way to the apartment, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some breakfast and snack items.
By this point, it had started to cool off a bit and everyone else was ready to head back out. We decided it was time to find a gondola.
After wandering a bit, we came across a gondola stand and got in line. On a less crowded day, we might have been able to interview a gondolier, but with the line, it was more of a streamlined operation where you got what you got.
While fun, our guide wasn’t very talkative about the history of Venice or the architecture. Also, there were five of us in the boat and one of my parents started to get a cramp in their knee. But, it was still a delightful half hour and a highlight for the boys.
Afterwards, our goal was to find gelato, but we failed and ended up at a cafe that had vanilla gelato with toppings. Fine, but not what we were looking for. As we returned to the Rialto Bridge, we spotted several gelato shops and stored that away for the next day. There were also a few pizza stands, so picked up a few slices of pizza. After wandering a bit more, we called it a night.
Friday, June 28, 2019
On our last day in Venice, we had plans to simply wander. Our morning started with a walk to San Marco Square to see what it looked like without the crowds.
The water by the square was quite peaceful and the boys enjoyed seeing the gondola parking lot. We spent a while just enjoying the atmosphere.
As we wandered, we stopped at a couple of churches, including the Chiesa di San Moisé, and enjoyed admiring other nice buildings.
The goal was to take a roundabout path back to the Rialto Bridge to see it before it got too crowded. At one point, we stopped for some delicious lemon slushies and gelato.
The Rialto Bridge
The views from the top of the Rialto Bridge were quite nice.
We then explored the other side of the bridge a bit. The kids loved the fish market. One vendor had just brought in a bucket of fresh eel and was in the middle of cleaning and filleting them. They found it delightful to watch.
On the other side of the fish market was a vegetable and other food market. John found some dried kiwis and mangos that he wanted to try.
The heat was picking up, so we decided to head back to the apartment for rest and naps.
Lunch and More Wandering
For lunch, my parents were interested in a water view, but we also wanted air-conditioning, so we checked out the restaurants by the water and found that Riva Rialto had only indoor seating and a nice window view of the bridge. As expected, the food was fine, but not exceptional. The main point of that type of restaurant is the view. If you want better food, you need to head into the areas where the locals hang our. Dad and I enjoyed the lasagne as the starting course, followed by fried calamari, shrimp, and sardines. Mom’s roast chicken was also quite tasty.
After lunch, we wandered through some of the residential areas on that side of the river. Quite peaceful. The boys loved exploring the little alleyways. Everyone was impressed when we came across a cool spiral building.
At one point, we decided to stop for gelato, then we decided to head back to the apartment to wait for it to cool off a bit.
Mom and I went out to do some window shopping, explored a bit, and stopped to listen to some music in San Marco Square.
We wandered a bit to the east, and I thought I knew where we were, but when I pulled out my GPS, I realized we had gone about 10 minutes in the wrong direction. Oops. We made it back and rested a bit more.
Once evening hit, we decided to explore to the west and found a couple of nice squares, one of which we stopped at for drinks and desserts. John was delighted when we came across his leaning tower again.
As we returned to the apartment, we picked up some pizza from a stand.
What a delightful time in Venice! On to Switzerland!