Sunday, August 29, 2010


There's a saying "there's no place like Venice". When you set foot in Venice, you'd totally agree.

Venice is indeed unique. There are no cars or buses on the island. There is water everywhere!

To get from one place to another, you either walk, take the water bus, the water taxi or the larghetto.
We took the train from Florence and on arrival boarded the water bus from the railway station to the hotel.
Good thing I remembered to buy the return ticket as well; some jetties do not sell tickets. The buildings look old and in ruins but when you go inside, its totally different. The fare is 6.50 euro one way.
In Venice, everyone is either a tourist or involved in some kind of business earning tourist money. As we walked around we could see many people holding maps. If you just follow the natural flow of people, you would get to your destination. However, I heard some friends said they got lost. I can understand why...the buildings look the same, the lanes are narrow, its difficult to look for landmarks or road signs. There are some arrows which point to the direction of Piazza San Marco or St Marks Square, or to Rialto bridge, or to the Railway Station.

Basically you have to have a rough idea where you're heading. A compass would be very handy!
St Marks Square floods easily every time it pours, but the other lanes are quite ok.

I booked online tickets to enter the Basillica (free of charge) but due to the floods only one entrance was open so everybody had to queue the same line. What a waste, otherwise I would be able to jump queue using the pre-booked tickets. But luckily the queue wasn't long. Once in, we stayed until the flood point getting our feet wet! It didn't take very long. The rain stopped and after a while the ground was dry again.

Not taking any chances, we headed to the area near the Doge's Palace to check out the gondolas before the weather changes again.

On travel websites we are usually advised to go to the less popular spots to take the gondola rides for discounted rates but we didn't.

One operator asked for 120 euros! Its definitely a fleece because the standard rate is 80 euros without discount. We settled for someone who offered a 10 euro discount to 70 euros. As a bonus, this gondolier is quite good looking so our photos would look nicer ! It is actually a guided tour...the gondolier would introduce the place as we moved along the canals. A singing one would cost more, I think.

Besides gondolas and St Mark's Basillica, just walking and shopping in Venice would be fun. Lots of souvenir shops, like the ones selling Venetian masks. There are other shops selling other things like bags and clothing. The prices are cheaper than in Milan but I think Florence is a better place to shop. We stayed only one night. We had a lot of time to browse the night scenery. On the next day, we visited the markets and then took a train to Milan , our last stop.

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