It was my 4th visit to Venice, Italy in my life and I am always amazed at the Wonderfulness of this city! Wonderfulness is that a word? But it is so magical to walk around the alleys, bridges, and waterways, making Venice so unique and wonderful! I never tire of seeing it and there is always more to explore as was the case this time.
I had always made an effort to stay near St. Mark’s Square, but this time due to travel plans into and out of the city from the airport and train, I made plans to stay closer to those areas. We arrive around midnight from a late flight from Amsterdam to find that arriving late at night is NOT a good idea! My original plan was to find an expensive water taxi (130 euros), just bite the bullet, and get to the hotel as fast as possible. After exiting baggage claim there was still a water taxi dispatcher available at that hour, but nobody wanted to come and take us. So we make the 10-15 minutes trek across the moving sidewalks to the area where the water busses run. Of course, the Orange line we needed to get as close as possible to the hotel was no longer operating and the Blue line would have put us too far away. Back towards the airport on the moving sidewalks to find a car taxi or bus to take us to the main train station and not too far away from the Arcadia Hotel we had booked for 2 nights.
Found a car taxi for 60 Euros and we are off at high Italian driver speed to the furthest street point we can to get across the Grand Canal from the main train station. Still not exactly sure where the hotel is located, we then get a water taxi at 40 Euros to take us to the Gugli stop we needed to get within easy walking distance. It had been a long day and we just crashed into our beds!
We get up a bit later than usual and since the hotel has a nice breakfast included, we enjoy it in their beautiful breakfast room. It is very complete and tasty! Our plan today was to venture out and see a few more sights that we have not seen before, mainly the Rialto Bridge and we did that via the water buses that run throughout the Grand Canal. We get off at the Rialto Bridge market stop and explore the fresh fruits and vegetables for sale including the purchase of fresh cherries, and a short walk around the corner takes us to the bridge. Early enough in the day is the time to come to avoid the large crowds that accumulate there. Speaking of crowds, I have never seen Venice this busy before. There were just massive amounts of people everywhere in the city!
We walked around some alleys and with some occasional directional signs and following the pack of people we ended up in the high shopping district right next to St. Mark’s Square. Most of the square was closed off due to a concert planned that evening as they had the staging and lots of chairs set up for the event. We walked along the usual expensive restaurants with their live music playing and ended up right in front of the Basilica di San Marco with a long line of tourists waiting to get in. We had already done that on our previous trip, so no interest, this time but it should be a visit if it is your first time. As we were looking toward the Grand Canal an interesting group of dark blue colored sailboats was making their way into the Grand Canal. As you can see from my video in this area, lots and lots of people!
It became lunchtime and we remembered from our last trip about a good lunch we had at a restaurant just to the right side of the Basilica called Trattoria Ai Leoncini . We enjoyed a Lasagna Bolognese and fried Seafood platter with some glasses of the local Italian beer as well as Italian bread with olive oil. Of course, that is followed up by Gelato at the nearby stand.
We meander through the various alleyways and passageways and end up by the Rialto Bridge once again where we decide to take the water taxi buses back to the train station to our hotel for a nice afternoon nap! We venture out in the bit cooler evening to enjoy dinner on the other side of the Grand Canal via the Ponte degli Scalzi and find that it leads to more of a residential neighborhood and a restaurant called Trattoria Marciana catches our eyes. It has been around for many years and the current owner is the grandson of the founder. It was very good and the main dishes we ordered were delicious, hot, and flavorful.
Tomorrow brings our short stay to a conclusion as we head to the train station in the morning for the 2-hour ride to Trieste where our cruise ship departs. Venice outlawed larger cruise ships last year, so we were forced to start our Adriatic Cruise in Trieste. I will have more about the 5-day cruise on the NCL Gem in my next blog!
Meanwhile, if you get a chance to visit Venice, do not miss out! It is forever memorable.