Sunday, 8 July 2018

FAMILY REVIEW: Venice, Italy

Our time in Verona came to an end and our next stop was Pula, Croatia. But with a quick one-night in Venice because... Venice!


VENICE CITY

Venice City is a group of islands just off the coast of the Venice area and it's tourist central and... it's not cheap. More on that later.

WALKING

From where all the transportation stops in Venice City, there is about a 30-40 minute walk to the main tourist hub - Piazza San Marco.

Be prepared to walk a lot. It was not easy and not straight forward. There were signs that would seem to lead you to the Piazza but it would lead you one direction and I wouldn't find another sign for a long time.

So so many bridges to cross. Some wide, some narrow, some with ramps, most without. Some bigger and steeper than others. After the first few waterways and bridges, you kind of wish for no more and want to just reach your destination.

Make sure you have plenty of water and if you see a supermarket or shop along the way selling fresh. cold fruit - buy it! You will need it during the walk.





PIAZZA SAN MARCO (Saint Mark's Square)

The tourist hub of Venice City is this Piazza. It has the Saint Mark's Basilica which is so grand and beautiful. The Piazza surrounding it is just as grand and beautiful!

Worth the visit, definitely.

If you have the budget, go inside the Basilica. We didn't at the time, nor did we have the time but we wish we had. With the grandness of the outside, we can only imagine how beautiful it was on the inside.

Be aware there are no seats to sit on when you get there except at the expensive restaurants in the square. There are public toilets in the square which are most likely paid toilets like all other toilets in Venice City.



GONDOLAS AND PUBLIC WATER BUSES

Gondolas are private transport services. You can book in advance or approach directly. They can help you beat the walking to Piazza San Marco but they are pricey. 

Gondolas are not all run by one company. There are different gondolas run by different people but each have the same standard price of €80 per gondola ride with a maximum of 6 people per gondola. If you have less than 6 in your party, you still have to pay the €80!

You can choose your destination but the advice I've seen is that you should make sure the price covers exactly what you want before you pay them. Make sure they know you want to go to x destination for the total price of €80. They don't just take you to the Piazza, they can take you to your hotel if you wish or somewhere else around the city.

You can split the cost of going on a gondola but it means 1) you must share the gondola with strangers and 2) it's your responsibility to find another party to make up the maximum of 6 people and make sure you are all going to the same destination so you have to ask around and 3) some gondola services do not allow split fares so you need to also make sure you have asked all those questions to the workers before finding people to split the cost. 

Also, at night the cost of gondolas goes up to €100. 



Water buses are a public transport system that can also take you around the city. There are various routes around the city so you gotta make sure you catch the right water bus (Google Maps helps with this as it tells you exactly which water bus line goes to your destination). Before getting on, make sure you see the stop you're wanting to reach on the wall in the waiting area because you don't get a diagram/picture of the various stops inside the bus or any announcements. Make sure you count how many stops to your stop. The water buses stop at every stop along the way so it makes it easier to get off on the right stop.

Water buses are €7 each (including kids older than toddler age). With three people, that adds up so if you use a water bus, use it once and walk either to your destination or back. Unless you have the budget to go both ways.

If you do have the budget or you have younger kids, just take the water bus. Prams are hard to get over the countless bridges (we saw people struggling with them during our walk) and it's just easier in the long run.

We walked to the Piazza but I could not walk back in the heat so we caught the water bus back which, even though not a gondola, was good to see the rest of Venice from the water. It's worth going on the Venice water ways in some way if you visit!


BUSES

Like most Italian cities, you can buy bus tickets either on the bus or from Tabaccherie (Tobacco shops) or if in Venice, they have plenty of bus ticket booths around. And as we've seen before, their bus tickets have a 70 minute use.

If you're going to the Marco Polo Airport, there is one direct bus that goes there every 5 minutes from Venice City and that costs €8 per person!!! A rip.

But, we tested a theory we had to see if the cheap ticket we bought would work on the airport bus. And it did! We didn't test the theory again but just be aware of that possible trick if you're in Venice and you're feeling rebellious! 

All public transportation tickets must be validated when you enter the bus (this includes the water buses). There is a machine on every bus (sometimes one at the back as well as one at the front of the bus) that you hover your ticket over and it will either give a positive beep or I assume, a negative sounding one! We never heard a denied beep so...

The validation machine for the water buses are before you reach the waiting area. You cannot go through to the waiting area until your ticket is validated.

WEATHER AND PEOPLE

Summer is not the best month to go to Venice. If I could have, I would not have gone in the summer or the few days leading up to it. It's just too hot (up to 30 degrees) and just too busy. But we had no choice - it was now or never.

A lot of tourists, obviously, which is expected. A lot of souvenir shops dotted along the walking trail but what I liked about these souvenir shops is that a lot of them didn't have just the usual postcards etc but a lot of other options. Being in Venice, there is of course Venetian face masks for sale everywhere! But also a lot of souvenir glassware and other interesting options. 

*SCAM ALERT*
With so many people and in such a tourist hub, be warned that you can be scammed. We were, only slightly, by someone approaching us. We only lost a few Euros and that was to get him to let us go.

Do not let anyone approach you about anything - whether a sob story or even a happy story or whether to sell your something. I know it sounds harsh but you gotta put your stone face on so you do not get ripped off.

Keep your belongings close. We were lucky we didn't get anything stolen but it's so busy, I can see how dangerous it can be, especially since we know scams are about. 

FOOD

Guys, besides the fresh fruit that we bought on the way to the Piazza, we didn't eat anything.

The restaurants in the main Piazza are beautiful and they have live orchestral music playing but they are also expensive and they charge you an extra service fee to just sit down at a table.

We did not eat there.

Just take a packed lunch if you can or if you're desperate, go to a place along the walk to the Piazza that should be slightly cheaper.

__________

FINAL REVIEWS

H: It was quite busy and hot but there were quite a lot of things to do that was fun like you could go on a boat and see the city from the water. And you could see lots of cool buildings and statues. I didn't like that it was really hot and there was a lot of walking. The church (Basilica) was quite nice and big and shiny!

N: Beautiful! Lots of history and lives up to what people imagine it to be. The hustle and bustle was nice but occasionally you can feel like you just need some space to enjoy the beauty. I'd go back again probably at a less peak time and not summer.

T: The heat knocked me back. I wish we could have stayed in Venice longer so we didn't have to rush through the heat and we could have taken our time. The walk to the Piazza San Marco was the worst walk we've had so far and I had continual ramifications from that walk for the following week. The scam could have tainted the trip had Piazza San Marco not been so beautiful. I wish we had gone inside but happy with what we did see. Wish there was an easier and cheaper way to get to the Piazza but don't regret not getting a gondola. Love the Piazza but they need seats there and it's crazy expensive because of tourists. Expected? Of course.. doesn't mean I like it! Would I go back to Venice? Yes.. in the winter and with more of a budget so I didn't have to walk!


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