Third times a charm, right? Not always…
We headed to Venice after a week in Slovenia for two reasons; firstly, it was much, MUCH cheaper to fly home from Italy, even including the coach tickets and extra night in a hotel than flying home from Slovenia was, and secondly, because we had always dreamed about going to Burano, a little island half an hour by boat away from Venice. With both of these reasons combined it was a pretty easy decision to make and that was that.
After exploring Ljubljana, our last stop in Slovenia, we jumped on a coach for the five-hour journey. Now, this is where the bad luck started… there was rain, rain and more rain. More than we’ve seen in a tropical storm in St. Lucia and it wasn’t stopping. This meant that the traffic was going at the pace of a snail. We’re not complaining about that, we’d rather not be involved in a 20-car pile-up, but we had mentally prepared ourselves for a five hour journey (which was hard enough – a lot of snacks had to be bought). But as we saw the hours creeping up and up it was heartbreaking. This was a time when I wish there wasn’t Google Maps or free roaming in Europe. We would check the maps constantly, *4 hour 23 minutes till your destination*, half a hour later *4 hours and 22 minutes till your destination* – ugh.
Eventually the driver pulled over and bellowed ‘Venice‘. Now, we’ve been to Venice before and unless we’re as forgetful as fish, this wasn’t Venice. Oh no. There were no canals, there were no pretty bridges, there wasn’t even a market vendor selling venetian masks or any gelato shops! Oh no this wasn’t Venice. Unfortunately, the driver didn’t speak English and we were equally as useless with limited Italian, so off he went, and there we stood on the side of the road. This is the point when we decided we were thankful for Google Maps and free roaming!
It turned out we weren’t on the island and we had to get a bus to the Island – woohoo another half an hour on a bus – just what we were hoping for! Yet, as we pulled onto the bridge talking you from the mainland to Venice all our troubles started disappearing (even the rain) and we could already smell the carbs, wine and gelato, we were about to be surrounded by.
We pulled into the bus station and again – praise the Lord for Google Maps and free roaming, we were only a short walk away from our hotel. Now, sensibly I took a backpack as it’s pretty much always the most sensible option. However not Camilla, Camilla took a HUGE wheelie suitcase which weighed as much as a baby elephant. The steps and the bridges were not kind too her and what was meant to be a lovely short walk, basking in the beauty of Venice (which always surprises us each time we come back) turned into a long, fowl mouthed marathon neither of us want to discuss again.
Top Tip: Don’t take a heavy wheelie suitcase to Venice. You will not be a nice person by the end of it.
Anyhow, we got to where Google Maps had told us to go and it was pointing down a rather dark alleyway. Now, there are lots of pretty little alleyways in Venice we agree, however this was not one of those. This was one of those, you’re going to walk down here, and you may never come back out again alleyways. But, full blind faith in Google Maps, let’s give it a whirl. Yep, nope, that was just a dark, scary, urine smelling alleyway. After a quick call to the hotel we found out Google Maps was trying to trick us and found our way. Hiccup number three.
When in Venice we stayed at Ca’ Pozzo Inn which was perfectly located for the boat to Burano, our main activity while there. We have to say we were pleasantly surprised by the hotel, full of modern art, it was stylish and practical with amazing staff who were understanding and efficient with every request. We would stay here again in a heartbeat.
The rain had stopped, we’d checked in, changed our soggy shoes and finished all our road snacks – it was time for dinner. With all the little hiccups (let’s say) of the day it was late so we didn’t venture far. We found a little restaurant with the cutest interior and homemade pasta – the dream – just at the end of our road, Trattoria Alla Palazzina. The staff were amazingly warm and friendly, plus the homemade ravioli was delicious. Obviously, we snuck in a few glasses of wine too, which sent us right off to sleep.
The next morning, we woke bright and early to get to Burano before the crowds. One problem, the sky wasn’t bright at all. Nope our friend the weather man had failed us and again there was rain like no rain you’ve ever seen before. We decided that as we were flying home that afternoon it was now or never, so despite of the weather we ran through the streets of Venice to catch the number 12 from Fondamente Nove A; ‘It will brighten up by the time we get there…’
By the time our boat pulled up, it wasn’t bright, but it had stopped raining… small victories… and off we went. Burano is amazing! Truly amazing. We are obsessed with colour and these multi coloured houses do not disappoint. Every corner you turn you are hit with even more bold and crazy colours than before. It makes the houses in Notting Hill look amateur. However, not after long, the rain started coming down again, but not even the grey skies could dampen this bright place and we were so happy we had seen it.
But, if we’re honest, we would love to go back in the sun at some point, and we are sure we will be visiting Venice again for the fourth time. But, even with the rain, it is pure magic and a must do on your Venice hit list.
Now, as you may know we’re obsessed with churches, or Basilicas or Duomo’s for that matter, and St Mark’s Basilica is included. We have to admit our favourite is St Peter’s Basilica in Rome but St Mark’s Basilicas’ gold mosaic ceiling!? Yes please!
We’ve seen it twice before, but we just couldn’t stop ourselves from being drawn back, just for a sneak peek. However, yet another problem. As it was raining, every man and his dog (literally) was trying to get inside and there was a queue stretching around the corner. We had never seen it so busy, but the gold mosaics were calling, and like good little British people we are, we joined the queue and waited 45 minutes to get inside.
Now, heres wheres we ran into another problem. We didn’t realise (as it was a Sunday) the main part of the Basilica didn’t open until 2pm, and we had just queued 45 minutes to get into the museum (which we have also seen twice before, and to be honest that’s more than enough times.) But, to save face, and because we were soaking wet and it was warm inside, into the museum we went. Not all was lost, the museum has a balcony which gives an amazing birds eye view of the Basilica and many walkways which take you right up to the mosaics. In the end we got our gold fix… even though we had to pay for it.
Top Tip: If you’re going on a Sunday – go after 2pm and you can see the Basilica for free.
Another little gem which we had been eager to go to for ages was a cute little book store, Libreria Acqua Alta. It sells a mixture of old and new books, and because it floods from time to time they keep them in boats and bath tubs to protect them. It’s one of the most endearing places we’ve been, and this is before we mention the extremely Instagram-able pile of books in the backyard!
Finally, after all our running around in the morning it was time to eat. Italy is our favourite country in Europe and one of the main reasons for that is the food. It just never disappoints, and this is why we come back one, twice or three times a year. From wine, to pasta, pizza and gelato, it has everything indulgent you could ever want! Therefore, for the afternoon, we walked and ate our way through the city before heading to the airport.
Was it third time a charm? Yes! We love Venice and we got to see another side to it we haven’t seen before. This is why we believe you need to re-visit cities and discover different layers. The first time you go you’ll want to hit all the major tourist sights – who doesn’t want to see the view from the top of the Empire State Building when in New York?! But, when you go for a second, or third, or forth, you might revisit your favourites, like us with St Marks Basilica, but you also have time to slow down and get into the little corners.
Venice, we love you. See you soon.