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Photoblog – Venice

June 24, 2008

After spending a couple of very miserable days in Liverpool (see the related post here), Josef and I finally made it to Italy in the late afternoon. The bus ride from the airport to Venice was about an hour long, and we were fairly surprised to discover that the bus had let us off within a five minute walk of the train station. We had been told that you had to take a water bus to get into Venice, and we did this when we were on our way in. We knew which stop we were supposed to get off at, and when Josef consulted the very easy-to-read timetables for the water bus, he told me emphatically that we could walk to our destination. I disagreed, citing the guidebooks that I had read which stated that a water bus was necessary to get from the mainland to Venice. Turns out that I was wrong. Two bridges and a five minute walk will get you from the bus stop to the train station. If your hotel is deep inside Venice, you will absolutely want to take a water bus, as it will get you quickly past the maze of streets to a location near your hotel. In our case, we had chosen a hotel near the train station, so we didn’t require such assistance.

View from waterbus

I offer a mixed review of our hotel, the Villa Rosa. First, the good. The place was close to the train station, and a major bridge across the Grand Canal, as advertised. It turned out that it was down what looked to me to be a tiny alley used only for access to the rear of other buildings, but after I had spent a few hours in Venice, I understood that such alleys crisscross the city and are not, in fact, service alleys such as are found in the US. The price, while I am thinking of it, was the most expensive of all the hotels on our trip, but it was the least expensive that we could find in Venice. I think we paid about 100 euros a night.

If you have read my Liverpool post, you will know that we were, due to circumstances mostly beyond our control, two days later in arriving in Venice than we intended to be. We emailed the Villa Rosa each day that we were delayed and explained the reason for our delay. We had hoped that the hotel would be understanding and would charge us half-rate for the nights that we missed, or not at all. When we arrived, speaking no Italian (we speak a bit of French and Spanish, but figured that our three days in Italy would just somehow . . . work themselves out), we were told that there was no room available for us. Because we had missed the first two nights of our stay, they had cancelled our reservation. And they still intended to bill us for ALL THREE nights, even though we were standing in front of them and they were denying us a room. After some very difficult cross-language argument between my boyfriend and the staff at the desk, we were finally given a room on the top floor. This was very lucky as there was a thunderstorm approaching and the only likely accommodation still available would be in campgrounds on small nearby islands.

Hotel Villa Rosa

The hotel and the room were beautiful. The furnishings were ornate and lent a very lavish air to the hotel. The room had a beautiful new (and private!) bathroom. There was even air conditioning, tv, and internet access (only in the lobby and some rooms). There was a small dining room in the lobby and an interior courtyard. I had read reviews of families coming to this hotel for decades, and I could see why. However, the language barrier and our delay left me with a bad taste of sorts in my mouth, and I noticed that they seemed to be having some roofing troubles, as the storm caused rivulets of water to run down some walls in the rooms and the stairway.

After the thunderstorm passed, there was still a bit of light, and since we only had about 24 hours in Venice, we immediately set out to explore. The first view that we had, amazingly, was the one below.

Grand Canal

We wandered around, completely lost, for a couple of hours. We found a small place to eat, and the food was decent. We got pizza, as we had been told that it was amazing in Venice. The pizza was thin, but tasty. We found our way back to the Grand Canal eventually, after being accosted by a flower seller who tried to convince us to buy all of his flowers (he wanted 50 euros for them, and insisted on my holding the whole bundle while he negotiated with Josef). We ended up buying one flower for 5 euros, which I soon learned is a surefire way to fend off the other flower sellers. 5 euros is a reasonable price for a peaceful evening, in my opinion. We stood on a bridge and listened to music for a while, and then we walked along the canal a bit in the direction of our hotel. We knew that the hotel had a curfew and locked the doors at some point in the evening, but we couldn’t recall what time that was, so we headed back pretty early. I learned that there isn’t a pathway along the length of the Grand Canal, and you have to cut frequently back into the maze of streets to keep moving in the direction you would like to go. Also, I learned that a map is not the best way of getting around Venice. There are a lot of signs directing you to major locations, and we used those to get where we needed to go. However, it is very easy to pass up a turn or miss a sign, so be prepared to backtrack a lot.

Grand Canal at Night

After passing a mostly restful night (Josef complained about the pillows being too hard) we left our luggage in the lounge (where we encountered large signs saying that luggage left unattended was not the responsibility of the hotel) and checked out. We then found a water bus to take us to San Marco and enjoyed a nice cruise along the grand canal. San Marco was full of tourists and pigeons, which were probably one of the highlights of our trip, as far as I was concerned.

San Marco

We quickly purchased a 1Euro bag of corn to feed the pigeons and began making friends.

San Marco


San Marco

Josef and I even began to compete for the best photos of us with the pigeons, which resulted in the gem below.
Sharing Corn

After a while, we tore ourselves away from our new feathered friends to explore more of Venice in the short time that we had. I’m glad now, that we spent as much time there as we did, because feeding the pigeons in San Marco is now illegal. We spent the next couple of hours, in the heat of the day, exploring shops and looking at the beautiful window displays. Most of the windows had signs warning you not to take pictures, but this one didn’t, so I snapped a quick shot.

Venice Window Display

Every hour or so, I ducked into a shop as we were passing and bought a refreshing Lemon Ice, and we had some very tasty ice cream as well. We bought a lot of souvenirs while we were in Venice, which was a good thing since we didn’t find much else that we wanted to purchase on the rest of our trip. We decided that because of the limited time that we had, we would skip museums and other time-eaters and just wander the streets getting a “feel” for Venice. We also opted to skip the 80 Euro gondola ride. I’d like to take one sometime in the future, though, because the ones that we saw looked very romantic.

Gondola Ride

We had to meet our bus at 6pm, so we eventually started wandering back in the direction of our hotel. We knew how misleading distances in Venice can be, so we gave ourselves a couple more hours than we thought we would need. On the way, we saw some beautiful sights, and we also found ourselves in some of the main shopping areas of Venice, something that we had missed due to our haphazard method of navigation.

Small Canal

Main Shopping Area

We made it back to the hotel with a couple of hours to spare, so we did a little more shopping and then spent some time reading and resting in a small park that we found near the train station. Other people that I’ve spoken with were shocked when they heard of this park, so I thought for my readers’ sake I would point out that it is across the Grand Canal (there’s a bridge) from the train station and a little to the right. It was easy enough to find that we stumbled upon it by accident.

An hour or so after our discovery of the park, we were back on our bus and headed to Paris.

Venice Hat


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