Our tour has kicked up some interesting routing – we found it was easier to visit Trieste and Rovinj by flying into Venice, overnighting there and then heading to the other cities by train and ferry respectively, before reversing the route for me to head back to London. But in those four nights in Venice, we do manage to see some of the sights.
A great way to get a feel for the city is to spend €20 and get an all day pass on the vaporetto (water bus), so we head out before our train trip to Trieste and see a bit of the city from the canals. If you choose the right vaporetto you can also just spend €7.50 and ride that one boat for 75 minutes – the #1 is a good candidate as it goes down the Grand Canal.
A well-travelled friend of mine had given me this advice with what to see in Venice:
And in Venice… Burano + walk randomly any area AWAY from San Marco & Rialto
After our return from Trieste we decide to head out to Burano because of their recommendation and the coloured houses are supposed to be sublime. As promised, the colours are amazing and the island itself is very manageable. The trip out to the island is deceptively long – most of the maps have to show the island in an inset which hides the fact that it takes the better part of an hour to get out there – well worth the trip though! If we’d had time we could have also visited some of the other islands out that way – Torcello and Mazzorbo, but unfortunately I had to return to London and Ange to explore Treviso.
Our ferry to Rovinj wasn’t until 5pm on the Friday and returned quite early on the Sunday, giving us more time in Venice this time around.
Like Burano the previous weekend, Lido is an island about an hour away from the main part of Venice. Lido itself is the break water protecting the lagoon from the Adriatic. A long strip of beach overlooked by hundreds of stately hotels, forests of cabanas and umbrellas for guests in the high season. When we’re there it’s a bit empty which suits us fine, but the off season renovations are still underway leaving piles of sand and heavy machinery dotted around the beaches.
We get back from Rovinj about lunchtime and after dropping off our bags at our hotel, we head out to go for a spa. We’ve chosen to go via St Mark’s Square, knowing full well that it will be packed with tourists. I hate crowds, and the constant press of slow moving and bovine-like camera-wielders is the biggest negative about Venice for me, so I steel myself for the upcoming affront to my sense of pace.
On the way we stop into a weird food place called Handay. There are self service machines but not much in the way of instruction and staff that have to help you out. Very basically it’s a pancake and gelato place and we’re confused as how it all works, even after talking with the staff: “Do we pay first, or after?” “Whichever you like” “So we’d like two pancakes please – how much is that?” “If you put them on the same plate, it’s €5, but if you have them on separate plates its 2 x €4 = €8” “That’s an expensive plate” – I said while looking at the bog-standard paper plate in wonder.
You do get as many toppings as you like for a flat fee and as much whipped cream as you can pump onto your pancake, so it’s not all bad – and they have a water spray thing outside like supermarkets have in their fruit and veg sections and with the heat it’s a welcome distraction to be “misted”.
The crowds are bad. As expected. But we take our photos and make it through without erupting in rage and pushing people out of the way, and board a vaporetto to take us to the first spa.
After having two spas and watching the sun go down over the rooftops, we weigh up whether to get a gondola ride in the dark, eventually deciding to get one during the day when we can see the surroundings. We meander our way back to the hotel – I was told the first time I was in Venice that it is a totally different city by night and I can see what they mean. The black ink of the canals reflect the lights on the buildings and the street lights frame every view like a painting. Gorgeous. We’re crossing one bridge and the canal it spans joins the Grand Canal in a T-intersction. In the distance I can hear sirens, so I figure there’s a police or ambulance boat screaming down the Grand canal.
I alert Ange to the fact that we’ll likely get a brief glimpse of the emergency vehicle as it flashes across our view. I’m proved a liar as the ambulance boat takes the corner at speed and blasts under our bridge instead. I manage to get a few shots in focus as it blasts past our vantage point and we continue on our way happy for the serendipity.
The last morning is our last opportunity for a gondola ride and while we’re keen on getting aboard, we also want breakfast, so we stop off on our way for something to eat. We stop off at a lovely little bistro and we’re a little relaxed about the time which puts a bit of pressure on us. We make our way to where we had seen gondolas picking up passengers the previous day, and sit down to wait. Five minutes later a gondolier goes past with passengers, but my expectation for a steady stream of available gondolas is soon dashed as time ticks by. We decide to head closer to the touristy areas and our efforts are rewarded almost immediately with an available gondolier leaning against a rail near his boat.
After the gondola ride there is only enough time to walk Ange to the train station and see her aboard the fast train to Rome. And then I’m off to the airport for my final flight from Venice.