Can you believe it? We finally took a trip out of the U.K.! Not that I don’t love it here or that there is a lack of things to do or places to see, but we’ve been putting off a holiday that requires us crossing a body of water and we finally managed it. Thanksgiving holiday was a bit different when in Italy, but I’m certainly not complaining!
There two are airports you can travel into when travelling to Venice: Marco Polo and Treviso. We booked our tickets into Treviso, which is a bit farther away (only about 30 minutes), but not inconvenient by any means. It is also A. Canova airport, so for this art lover, that was a plus since Antonio Canova is one of my favourite sculptors.
Due to a commitment we had about an hour from Venice, we rented a car. I was advised to use a major company and not one of the smaller outfits you find online by someone who had gone before us. Great advice as the smaller local companies seem good at the outset, but then have smaller charges which appear once you’re there–at least that was how it was explained to me. 🙂
Since we did have to drive an hour away, we did not stay in the middle of Venice, but instead stayed in Mestre. Mestre is the mainland portion of Venice and very populated. It has its own town centre of sorts as well as several supermarkets and restaurants. In fact, trying to find parking in the centre of Mestre on a Sunday evening for dinner is insane!
We opted to rent a flat for a few days. With a larger family, we have to pay for two hotel rooms when we travel or find a flat/apartment. In this case, the apartment was significantly less expensive and we were very happy with where we stayed.
Transport into Venice from Mestre is, in fact, extremely easy. From the flat, the tram was less than a five-minute walk and our temporary landlord showed us where to purchase tickets so the tram was less expensive. We were between the centre of Mestre and Venice, so a trip from our location took between 5-10 minutes and was fairly easy, though the tram did get rather crowded, so be prepared to stand if you are on one of the later stops. If you purchase tickets in advance, they act like a declining balance when you scan them on scanners on each car of the tram.
The tram brings you just over the water and to the edge of Venice. From there, you can follow the signs to the Rialto Bridge and St. Marks Basilica (San Marco), or you can wander. We did a bit of both and had a great time. Restaurants, bakeries, and shops line each and every walkway. Carnival masks and Murano glass (made on an island near Venice) colour many of the windows. It was always fun to go through a line of souvenir shops and boutiques to find a hardware store or something similar. Just that reminder that while it’s a touristy place, people do still live there.
One word of warning on souvenirs. It didn’t occur to me when we went, but some of the touristy shops are more legitimate than others. My daughters especially enjoyed the Carnival masks, but while there are a lot of shops that carry masks made in Italy or handmade, some carry ones made in China. Fortunately, the larger more expensive ones we purchased for ourselves and a gift, were both handmade, but one or two of the smaller were made in China. We were a bit disappointed when we arrived home and found that sticker on the inside. I’ve heard that can happen with Murano glass as well, but we only purchased one piece as a gift, and it was well-marked as “Made in Italy.”
Also be warned that public restrooms/toilets are not a common thing to find in Venice. I knew they cost money to use, so we all made a point of visiting the ones in the restaurants prior to exploring again; however, we did have to track down the one we could find at one point during our visit. I never dreamed it would cost €1.50!
The restaurants each had something different to recommend them. Some servers knew more English than others, but we did look up a few phrases before we went. Most importantly was “sensa glutine.” One server even looked at us and said, “Or you could say gluten-free.” Hey! We did try! Between what little French and Spanish I knew combined with Google translate, we did muddle through. My husband laughed at me when I told the lady at Starbucks “grazie” when she handed me my coffee upon our return to England. Four days of Italian had created a habit!
I will say that I rarely take photos of food, but I did on this trip. Just about everything I ate and saw in windows that I couldn’t eat were photographed. It was rather funny and not surprising that I gained four pounds over those few days. Imagine what I would’ve gained if I had free rein on the bread and pastries! Yikes!
Now, I know I usually give a low down on everything we do while we travel, and I will; but for this post, I wanted to give overall impressions, advice, etc. Next post will start what we saw while there. 🙂 I’m going to have to hunt down photos of some since they don’t allow photos in some of the churches 😦