Plan for three days
Our plan was to drive from San Marino to Venice. The journey was about 280 km and would take three hours. We would be staying in Venice for three nights. During our stay we would be visiting Venice and two other islands in the Venetian Lagoon, they were Burano and Murano.
By End of three days
With three days we were able to leisurely explored the place, sat down for meals, stopped for coffee breaks, joined a walking tour, visited Burano and Murano, explored the place after sun down etc etc. Three was just nice to do many things and not get bored.
Venice city was off limit to cars. We had found a couple of paid parkings on the Venice island just after the bridge that linked mainland to Venice. The parking charges on Venice Island were very expensive ranging from €12 to €29 per 24 hours. So it would be a very hefty amount for three days of parking.
Last minutes on the internet we managed to find an inexpensive parking on the mainland just before the bridge. Venice City Park Srl (co-ordinates: 45.467662, 12.266352), a fenced/guarded carpark charged only €4.50 for every 24 hours of parking. This carpark was just 50 meters from a bus stop that we could hopped on to get to Venice.
On the web, we placed a car park lot reservation at Venice City Park Srl, there was no payment needed and a confirmation email was sent to us. On arrival at the turn off from the mainroad to Venice City Park Srl we found that there were other fenced carparks just after the turn which were even nearer to the bus stop. On another nearby road there were many cars parked by its side along a white line (white line meant free parking). We were not tempted to use the free parking place as we wanted our car to be secured in a fenced/guarded carpark since we would leave it behind for three days. If we had not make a carpark reservation at Venice City Park Srl, we would drive into one of those fenced/guarded carparks nearer to the bus stop to save us some walking.
At Venice City Park Srl we found it still had many empty carpark slots. We checked with the guard at the booth near the entrance of the carpark as regards to the bus that would bring us into Venice. Bus 2, 4L, 6, 6L, 7 and 7E were all good. We also found that we could purchase Venice bus ticket (single trip) and Venice 24-hour pass (bus and water bus) from him. We purchased two 24-hour Venice passes, they costed €20 per person.
We left our big bags in the car and dragged our small bags to the bus stop about 70 meters. Going into Venice would be pretty straight forward as we needed only hopped onto the bus without crossing the huge mainroad. As for coming back we would be alighting at a bus stop across the road and use the overhead pedestrian bridge to cross over. Luckily we spotted elevators on both sides of the overhead pedestrian bridge which meant no lugging of bags up the steps!
Bus 2 came almost immediately we boarded the bus and validated our 24-hour passes at a ticketing machine on the bus. It took just a short 10 minutes to ride into Venice. All the buses, trains stopped at Piazzale Roma. It was also a Piazzale Roma where arriving visitors (by car, bus or train) boarded waterbuses to other parts of Venice.
Venice Water Bus
A single one way ticket on a waterbus costed €7.50 per person. So we figured that if we visited Murano and Burano within the 24 hours using our 24-hour-pass we would already make some saving. Our 24-hour-passes were validated on the bus into Venice at about 2 pm (the clock of the 24 hour started) for the rest of the day we went on 6 waterbus trips: one from Piazzale Roma to near our stay, a return trip to Murano, a return trip to San Giorgio for sunset viewing, and a trip that travelled the entire stretch of the Grand Canal. The next day morning we went for a return trip to Burano. So our €20 24hr-day-pass was used for one bus trip (€1.5 per trip) and 8 water bus trips (at €7.50 per trip).
Our first waterbus trip was on waterbus 2 (vaporetto 2). We boarded the waterbus at Piazzale Roma and alight at Rialto just after Rialto Bridge and from there walked to our “stay”.
Since we were using our 24hr-one-day passes we did not have to stop and queue to buy single trip tickets from the ticketing machines placed near the waterbus-stops. At the entrances of the waterbus stops there were barricade gantries, if they were shut we had to insert our tickets to get though. Some of them were opened all the times so we walked right through, in such cases there would usually be a staff on waterbus that would validate/check our tickets.
Venice had no roads for vehicles instead it had water-roads for waterbus (vaporetto), water taxi, water-garbage truck, water-lorry, personal-boat, gondola etc. It was intriguing to walk round the city and see all these different sorts of water vehicles in replacement of the conventional land vehicles.
Our first ride on waterbus 2 was from Piazzale Roma to Rialto (4 stops) where we alighted to get to our stay. Our 2nd ride on waterbus 2 was from Piazzale Roma to San Zaccaria (9 stops). This would take us through the Grand Canal of Venice. Of the various waterbus routes, waterbus 1 and water 2 plied through the Grand Canal.
The Grand Canal was huge and along the banks there were many buildings, basilicas, churches etc. Some of these buildings looked abandoned and part of lowest levels were already submerged in water. Venice was definitely sinking!
It was wonderful to see the famous gondolas of Venice. They could be seen everywhere. On the big Grand Canal and on narrow waterways that were like back alleys of the houses. All the gondola rowers wore the same attires, horizontal stripes shirts and black pants. Occasionally we would see one or two rowers wearing straw hats.
The internal sitting area of the gondolas were padded with thick rugs, colorful carpets and beautifully embroided cushions. The exteriors of the gondolas looked like highly polished/lacquered wood with silver colored trimming.
On the third day of our stay in Venice we spent the whole day walking the streets and alleys of Venice. Beside “water alleys” the city was connected by pedestrian alleys, streets and bridges. It was not easy to navigate the streets and alleys without google map as we found ourselves hitting dead ends.
Our Venice walking exploration led us to the banks of Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. Previously we only managed to pass under Rialto Bridge on waterbus 2 so it was a totally different experience to walk on Rialto Bridge. The bridge was more complex than we thought. Its central strip was actually a rows of shops. Rialto Bridge was the oldest of four bridges that spanned the Grand Canal.
Canal and Rialto Bridge
On the second evening of our stay in Venice we registered to participate in one of the “Free Walking Tours” of Venice on http://venicefreewalkingtour.com/. We chose the 8pm-1.5hours St Mark Evening Square Tour. There were walking tours in the morning or afternoon last 2 to 3 hours.
We met our tour guide at the designated meeting point, who went on to explain that at the end of the tour if we were happy with her “guiding” we could show our appreciation by dropping a token of appreciation in her “bag”. So the free walking tour was not entire free! At the end we dropped €5 per person.
The tour started at 8pm and there was 20 people in the group. Our tour guide was pretty informative, she pointed out all the historical stories behind the buildings, structures, artifacts and statues all round St Mark Square.
For two evenings we were at St Mark’s Square after sun down till midnight. It was a pretty romantic place especially after the crowd thinned. There were three small size orchestras playing life music at three cafes/restaurant at the square. We thought of sitting at the one of the cafes/restaurants for an after-meal coffee to enjoy the life music but had to forgo that thought as the cost of a cup of coffee was an outrageous €24! So instead of sitting down to enjoy the music we stood like many others around the outer ring of tables to enjoy the music.
Venice was very beautiful during sunset and after the sun went down. The place lighted up everything looked different, more romantic and nostaglic. It would definitely be a shame if one only visit the city in the day and missed the night lights of Venice.
We took waterbus 7 to Murano. From our “stay” we walked about 400 metres to “San Zaccaria” stop and alighted at “Faro” stop on Murano.
Murano was a series of 7 small islands linked by bridges. It was about 1.5 kilometer north of Venice and the waterbus that stopped at Murano departed from Venice. There were several waterbus stops on Murano, we alight at “Faro” stop and from there to explore Murano on foot.
Murano was the center for glassmaking in Italy. The glassmaking originally began in Venice but the worry that the foundries would cause fire and destroyed the city’s mostly wooden buildings, the glassmarkers were ordered to move Murano 1291. In Murano we saw many stores selling glass products some of which were very beautiful.
We did not return Venice on waterbus 7, instead we boarded waterbus 3 at “Venier” to return to Venice and alighted at it final stop “Piazzale Roma”. From “Piazzale Roma” stop we hopped on to waterbus 2 and travelled the entire stretch of the Grand Canal!.
Church of San Giorgio Maggiore
My nephew who had been to Venice told us that one of the best places to see sunset was on the little island where Church of San Giorgio Maggiore stood. So for our first sunset we went over to that little island.
To get to the island we took waterbus 2 for one stop from “San Zaccaria” to “San Giorgia Maggiore”. The island was pretty small and beside the church the rest of the place was fenced off.
From the island we could see the sun setting over Venice, it was stunning, very beautiful and the best thing was there was no crowd on the island except us and a few other visitors.
On the second day of our stay in Venice we visited Burano. Our 24 hour pass would expired by about 2 pm in the afternoon so we visited Burano in the morning and left Burano at about 1.30 pm in the afternoon. Waterbus 12 travelled to Burano so we boarded the waterbus at 9.10 am at waterbus-stop “F. Nove”
“F. Nove” was on the northern side of the Venice and about 20 minutes walk for our stay. We could either walk directly to “F.Nove” or boarded a waterbus 4.1, 4.2, 5.1 or 5.2 at “San Zaccaria” which was nearer to our stay that would take us to “F. Nove”. We decided to walk as it would certainly be faster.
We reached Burano at about 9.55 am, after a 45-50 minutes waterbus trip from Venice. Burano was made up of four islands linked together by bridges. It was located about 7 km north of Venice.
It was early and there was not many visitors on the island though the waterbus that took us to the island was full and some passengers had to stand all the way. At 10 am most cafes/restaurants were still close, we wandered around till we found one that served breakfast. We ordered a sandwich and a burger and two cups of cappuccino and the total cost was €15.
The houses on Burano were very colorfully painted. Apparently the painting of a house in a particular color needed to be approved by the government that followed a specific system originating from a long time ago that dictated the permitted colors for that lot.
Burano was also famous for its laces. There were many shops selling beautiful lace products such as dress, table clothes, lacy umbrella and many more. They looked so “sweet” and so irresistible.
As afternoon approached the weather turned hotter and more visitors streamed in. It was good that we came early which allowed us to take beautiful photos of the place without much “human” obstruction. We especially loved its pictureque canals lined with boats and brightly colored houses.
Burano also had a leaning tower. It was a bell tower and it leaned because of ground subsidence. The bell tower was 53 meters tall and it was inclined 1.83 meters from its axis.
Home cooked meals
During our three days stay in Venice we dined out twice (a dinner and a breakfast) and had many coffee and desert breaks. We also cooked four meals in our studio apartment (two breakfasts and two dinners). There were several supermarkets in Venice and conveniently one was very near our studio apartment. These supermarkets were well stocked with fresh meat and vegetable and their pricings were quite reasonable. A big bottle of drinking water costed less than €1.
Room prices in Venice was very expensive. The cheaper ones, despite showing very lovely photos of their rooms on their listings, had very bad reviews like too dirty, too run down , too smelly, too noisy, too hot, no hot water etc etc.
We did not need a five-stars room, but we needed a reasonably clean place preferably with ensuite toilet and kitchen. We finally booked one on Airbnb it was “Cassanova’s Place“. We studied the reviews left behind by guests that had used “Cassanova’s Place“, there wasn’t many reviews but generally happy guests.
We collected our key at Ristorante Stefano (which was a couple of steps from our stay) from one of the waiters. The waiter brought us to our stay which was on the fourth level and show us the studio apartment.
The studio appartment was pretty spacious and complete. A double bed, a sofa bed, a dining table and a kitchen. The room had a portable huge aircon with a conduit that channelled hot air out through a window. Unfortunately the aircon was very noisy and it was placed/fixed at the entrance of the studio which limited the effectiveness of its “coolness” for the room.
The studio apartment had a walk-in wardrobe and an ensuite toilet/shower. In the toilet was a washing machine and laundry drying rack overhead. The studio apartment was not spotlessly clean but for the price we paid it was still good value for money.
Our studio apartment costed €208 for three nights but we only paid €180 as Yat Thong had a €28 Airbnb Gift/Cash voucher from me. The Cash Voucher Gift from me was given by Airbnb when a new user signup (click to get gift/voucher from Jaik Yong for new Airbnb signup).
The location of our studio apartment was in a pretty good area. It was a short walk to Rialto Bridge in one direction and another short walk to Piazza San Marco in another. These were two of the most prominent destinations of Venice!
The only issue we had with this studio apartment was the unit next to us. That unit looked abandoned, it had a padlock and a chain on its doorknob hole. Its main door had a huge opening at the bottom which was partially blocked by a piece of plywood leaning against it on the inside. This door was directly beside our main door and when I peeked through the hole in the door I saw dirty raw looking concrete steps leading up. The funny thing was each morning when we passed that door we would notice that the plywood had been shifted. It seemed that somebody was using the unit illegally!