After meeting a German family in our hotel at Lake Garda, and finding out they had pre booked their parking for Venice, we thought that might be a good idea for us too! So while Mike packed the car, I searched the web for the best parking option for us. You can park on the mainland before the causeway, or there are a few car parks as you arrive on the island. They varied in price from 10-30ish euros. But mainly looked to be multi-storey or underground… With a height clearance of less than our roof box height… D’oh! Fortunately I found a third option that suited us perfectly – parking south at Fusina and getting a ferry to Venice. I can’t quite remember now, but I think it cost us €38 for parking and 2 return tickets on the boat to Venice (as a package).
It was a really nice way to get over to Venice. The parking and port at Fusina was easy to find and there was no traffic at all getting there. It was like Venices best kept secret! The boat ride takes 25 minutes and brings you into Zattere in the Dorsoduro district. It was great standing on the deck as a place we’ve only read about unravelled in front of us.
We did have to walk a little bit to get to the waterbus to the hotel. But it was well worth it. The walk was a great experience in itself, with the network of canals and alleys and interesting sights round every corner.
We’d treated ourselves (with the help of some birthday money – thanks Mum!) to a traditional Venetian style hotel, Hotel Marconi, with a balcony room overlooking the Grand Canal. It was just a few doors down from the Rialto Bridge, and perfect for a proper Venetian stay (Murano glass everywhere!)
We had a little trouble that evening trying to find gluten free food for Pip, but eventually found somewhere with gluten free pasta. But the menu was a bit confusing as the pasta/gnocchi dishes were actually appetisers… So I accidentally had a very small tea! Pip was delighted with his gluten free pasta though, so all was good 🙂
Given that the kids were up late anyway, we decided to do a bit of evening exploring. It’s much cooler and although still busy, it felt much more relaxed. A really nice atmosphere. We wound our way to Campo San Polo in (unsurprisingly) the San Polo district, where we had gelato and the kids played on what look to once have been fountains but now had metal lids.
Once we returned to the hotel the kids were shattered and went to bed pretty easily – phew! Which allowed us some adult time to sit on the balcony and watch the Venice night life below us. It was a great way to do it with the small kiddies. Left and right below our balcony there were people eating out on the street at restaurants as far as we could see. And directly below/in front of our hotel was a gondola station. We felt like we were in the thick of it and really enjoyed people watching! It was a great find (if I may say so myself) as it enabled us to really make the most of our limited time in Venice, and actually experience a little bit of romance in our shared passion for people watching. We saw a couple try to get away with not paying enough for their restaurant bill, the waiter chasing them down the street as they tried to skulk off. We saw a water ambulance go by! That was really cool! You should have seen the gondoliers panic gondoling to the side when they heard the siren! And all the restaurant goers getting splashed by the wake! The police turned up to the Rialto bridge and rattled some building site gates. And many many many tourists stood in front of the gondolers with the Rialto bridge in the background to take photos. The gondoliers would have probably preferred them to actually take a ride!
So, the next day after breakfast we ticked off an absolute must – a gondola ride! The location in front of our hotel made this extremely easy. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, and we got gondoled (?!) past Marco Polo’s house and Casanova’s. The only problem with it is that you pay for what you feel should be at least an hour (€80, ~£65), but get only 30 minutes which actually feels like 15 minutes! But it is a ‘must’, because VENICE!!! It really is the best way to experience the city (despite not going very far) as you really get a feel for the detail of the canals, the little hidden doorways, the mussels growing on the walls of buildings, the small bridges that the gondoliers have to duck under. It really is a place like no other.
After the gondola ride we collected our bag and then began our trip back to the ferry. But we took a very scenic route through Piazza San Marco, the largest ‘square’ in Venice. This involved more gelato and chasing pigeons.
Lunch was another breakfast buffet raid that we are on a small quiet square not far from the ferry port (Campo Di Sant’Agnese), which involved more pigeons, but no gelato. We think that sugar may be turning Pip into a monster, somewhat akin to Jekyl and Hyde. Or perhaps it’s just the heat.