"Venice, it's temples and palaces did seem like fabrics of enchantment piled to heaven."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Venice [2016]

We only had 24 hours in Venice before departing on our cruise. We tried to make the most of it.

Getting to Venice

There are no flights to Venice from Vancouver. We would have to transit through London on our way to board our Mediterranean cruise in Venice. Instead of flying to Venice, we took the train from London to Venice. This meant:

  • Taking the Eurostar from St Pancras Station to Gare du Nord in Paris — just about left my camera bag at the station. Not a great start.
  • Rush across Paris by taxi to Gare de Lyon — got scammed by the taxi driver into agreeing to a fixed rate. I should have known better. 
  • Catch the TGV (High Speed) train to Turin — they didn’t check my passport at the Italian border. The customs official looked at the cover, said ‘Canadian’, and walked on.
  • Stop overnight in Turin — the Best Western is just across from the train station. Very nice room.
  • Taking the 7:25 train from Turin to Venice — an Aussie in the seat across from us gave us a running history of all the places were passing
  • Arriving in Venice just after eleven - the day before we were set to depart.

The train station is across the “Grand Canal” from our hotel, “The Hotel Antiche Figure”. However, to get there we would need to cross the Ponte degli Scalzi ( the Bridge of the Barefoot Monks ).


The Hotel Antiche - Venice
Our Hotel was Directly Across the Canal

On leaving the station, porters wanting to carry our bags accosted us.I thought it was a free service - but no - they wanted €10 —  I declined the service. However, one porter followed us to the bridge. Perhaps not believing I could carry our own bags.

He was wrong.

The two bags weighed less than 80 lbs. and the bridge was less than 20 feet height - not a real challenge. The biggest problem was the crowd. Most people moved out of the way. I was able to make my way over the bridge without too much of a problem. (My wife said she was laughing too hard watching me carrying the bags to take a picture.)

Settling into our hotel and having a cup of tea, we decided to check out the area. I wanted to find out how far it was to the “People Mover”. The “People Mover” is an elevated tram connecting the Piazzale Roma to the Marittima cruise terminal. I had a rough idea where it was from Google maps. However, I missed a turn, and we found ourselves on the Ponte della Libertà (Liberty Bridge) heading back toward the train station.


Ponte della Libertà
Looking Towards the Ponte della Libertà 

I had planned on finding our way to the Jewish quarter - reputed to have some of the best restaurants in Venice. However, I hadn’t realized how quickly it got dark. Getting lost in Venice at night was not appealing. We settled on Gino’s, a small pizzeria on Lista di Spagna Cannaregio, close to our hotel. (www.ginospizzeria.it/) I picked Gino’s because it had “spaghetti al nero di seppia” (spaghetti in black ink sauce ) on the menu. It may not sound appetizing - but it tasted great.

We picked up some amazing pastries from one of the many bakeries, took a few pictures, and headed back to our room.

To St Mark’s Square

The next morning, we started early. I found where I had taken the wrong turn for the People Mover. After crossing a small bridge at the Hotel Canal, we should have gone left on Fondamenta Papadopoll to a small bridge, with a ramp for those pulling their luggage, leads to the People Mover monorail.

With that taken care of, we made our way toward St Mark’s Square, exploring some of the side streets along the way. It didn’t take too long to get lost - which I like, but my wife doesn’t enjoy at all.

We had a map, which was hard to read, and sometimes we couldn’t find the street names on the map. I had CityMaps2Go on my phone. I wasn’t able to get a satellite lock in the narrow alleyways, so it prove of little use.

Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge —  the crowds were overwhelming

We got to the Rialto Bridge, and the crowds were overwhelming. There were signs pointing to “Piazza San Marco”, but the easiest way was just to follow the crowd. If you want to see any of the major tourist attractions, you need to get to St Mark’s Square early. It was noon by the time we got there - and we didn’t have time to wait in line to get into any of the buildings. A few pictures and we had to head back to our hotel to pick up our bags and get to our cruise ship.

Lost again.

We were trying to find an alternate route back to the Rialto Bridge when I spotted the “Bridge of Sighs” — “the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment.”(Wikipedia ) The bridge connects the Doge’s palace to the prison. We didn’t have time to get a closer look.

Near Hotel Colombina on Calle-del-Remedio
Bridge of Sighs in the background

We got back to our hotel to pick up our bags at about 2:00 pm. We were tired and hungry and debated whether to have lunch or head to the ship. In the end, we headed to the ship and have something to eat there. A good choice.

The “People Mover” got us to the entrance to the Marittima cruise terminal — from there is was a 20 min walk to where we dropped off our bags. Another half hour filling in forms and having our picture taken. By the time we had checked our room and made our way to the buffet, there was only enough time to grab a quick snack before the mandatory ‘fire drill’

By evening, we were underway. Saying goodbye to Venice.

On to Kotor.