Monday, April 3, 2017


I had my heart set on Venice for a long time, even though there were many not-so-great reviews of the place. I, however, wanted to visit it before it vanishes due to the rising sea levels. Hence, despite all warnings, I planned a short (3 night) trip to Venice. And I wasn't disappointed!

We had a flight via Paris and we landed at Venice Marco Polo airport at 2:30 pm. I had arranged a taxi pick-up through my Airbnb host and we were in her beautiful apartment by 4 pm. The apartment overlooked a canal and was just 5 minutes walking distance from Piazzale Roma - the principal arrival point in Venice. The square acts as the main bus station for Venice and is close to the main Santa Lucia (Ferrovia) railway station.

We both had only one medium sized wheeled bag and one backpack each, so it wasn't difficult to traverse the three bridges to the apartment. One must keep that in mind when visiting Venice - the transport will not reach your doorstep and hence big luggage or more than one wheeled bag per head isn't easy to handle.

Since it was already 4 pm, we decided to just walk around the area and get a feel of the place. Only item on the agenda was to procure a local sim card because we couldn't find any outlet at the airport. Our driver had suggested that we might find outlets for TIM, Wind and Vodafone (3 key mobile operators) on Strada Nova (new street). So we went past Piazzale Roma, climbed over the Ponte della Costituzione (a modern footbridge over the western end of the Grand Canal) and started our hunt.

Masks on display
We were tired due to lack of sleep the previous night and 4 hour layover, but the street was fun and we were enjoying our walk. There were shops and vendors of all kinds. After about a mile of walking, we found a big TIM outlet but the queue wasn't moving (there were 3 women with a dog who weren't interested in leaving the counter), so we went ahead to Vodafone store & found them to be too expensive. On way back to TIM store, we ran into Wind store and discovered that they cant promise activation soon as their systems are down. With heavy heart, we went back to  TIM store and guess what - those 3 women were still there!!! Though thanks to them, rest of the waiting customers had left.

A gondola along the way

Finally we acquired a local sim, picked up some milk (for my morning coffee) from a COOP store near by and sat down just next door for an early dinner. We ordered Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), Lasagna Bolognese and Mushroom Risotto. While wine and Risotto were good, Lasagna was just amazing. It turned out to be a really lovely meal. After the meal, we slowly walked back to the apartment while enjoying a gelato :) 

Sunset view from our bedroom window

The apartment was simply wonderful with lots of space - bedroom, living room, kitchen and decent sized bathroom. Our host had provided us all kinds of tea and coffee, fruits, breakfast snacks, some yoghurt and even a bottle of Prosecco. The bathroom had everything we needed including a hair dryer. The view of the canal from the bedroom was as promised - overall the place was actually better than as seen in the photos. We were quite tired by now and hence we retired by 8:30 pm

Next day I woke up at 7 am, and after coffee, went out for a run. Long ago, I had watched a Woody Allen movie in which Julia Roberts runs by the canals of Venice (Everyone Says I Love You). Ever since, I had wanted to run in Venice. Since the temperature was around 13 degrees in Celsius, it was perfect for a morning run. It was a Sunday and there were hardly any people in the streets. It was fun to run along the Grand Canal, the smaller canals, through bridges and narrow lanes...I was happy!!!

View of Grand Canal from Rialto Bridge
Late morning, we decided to walk to Piazza San Marco (St Mark Square). It took us about 45 minutes to get there through Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge). It is the oldest bridge among the four bridges that span across the Grand canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo. Earlier it was made of timber and the present stone bridge was completed in 1591 and is similar to the wooden bridge it succeeded.

Basilica Di San Marco as viewed from St Mark Square

By the time we reached the Basilica Di San Marco, it was 11:30 am and almost the time for Sunday mass. Since the Basilica would open again at 2 pm, we decided to grab some wine & snacks in a nearby restaurant.

There was live music, throngs of crowds, pigeons and seagulls...a very lively scene. The weather was sunny but not hot - a perfect noon to sit and relax!

Bridge of Sighs

After a while, we walked along the Grand Canal and saw Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars, and passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the Prigioni Nuove (New Prison) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. The name comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells

The Pala d’Oro–an incredible gem-encrusted gold altar piece

It was almost 2 pm, so we walked back to the Basilica, deposited our backpack nearby and finally entered the building. Photography is not allowed but I did manage to click a picture of the Pala d’Oro–an incredible gem-encrusted gold altar piece.

I decided against climbing the Campanile bell tower next to Basilica- because actually there is no climb - an elevator takes you all the way to the top - no fun!!!

After the visit to Basilica we continued our walk along the Riva degli Schiavoni (waterfront) for a while. We enquired about the Gondola ride (costs 80 euros for 30 minutes) but decided against it.

Instead we picked up a 20 euro 24 hour Vaperatto pass for visiting Murano & Burano next day. Soon after, the gathering clouds forced us to make our way back to our apartment - though we chose a bit longer but different path to get back. It did start to rain on the way back but our rain jackets helped. Thus ended a beautiful sunny day in the lovely city of Venice


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