Next stop...Venice. I've been several times but this is Julie's first visit. First thing you have to learn and embrace about Venice is...you will most definitely get lost! If you don't accept this and go with the flow, your time in this city will not be as enjoyable. Oh and while streets may appear to be straight on the maps...they are not. When all else fails...Google Maps is your friend.
When you arrive at Marco Polo Airport in Venice, you have two options for getting to town. You can take the valparreto (city bus) or a private water taxi. The valparreto is much cheaper but can be very crowded and it drops you off at San Marco Piazza in the midst of all the tourists and you then have to find your way to your hotel. If you arrive during flooding, this can be even more challening. We opted for the water taxi as you are dropped off right at your hotel's boat arrival.
Our hotel, Boscolo Venezia, is a little off the beaten path and away from all the craziness of San Marco Piazzo. It is a charming hotel with a great history. In the 16th century, the Patarol family constructed the building and the Rizzo family inherited it before becoming extinct in 1833 (must find out what happened to them). Before becoming a hotel, it was a monestary and embassies for France and Savoy. It is full of beautiful furnishings, Murano glass chandiliers and fixtures and paintings. The service is wonderful and Pablo at the front desk was so very helpful.
The hotel offers a shuttle (aka boat) to San Marco Piazza. So after getting settled into our room, we took the shuttle to La Piazza. The hotel recommended a spot for dinner that would be on the way back to the hotel...in theory (remember what I said about getting lost).
Our first stop was the bell tower (San Marcos' Campanile) as we arrived just a few minutes before closing and the sun was setting. The cost is approximately $10 to take the lift up the 97 meters (~320 feet...can't say we were disappointed we didn't get to climb to the top). I've been to Venice three times and this was the first time the tower was not under construction and open. The views from the top are amazing and sunset just added to the beauty.
After dinner, the adventure began as we wandered the calles (streets), alleys, campos (squares) and bridges of Venice to find our way back to the hotel. When we left the hotel, they said it was a 30 minute walk to San Marco so in theory it should have been a 30 minute walk back. Well...it was close to an hour and we didn't even start at La Piazza. But that is okay because part of the fun of being in Venice is getting lost and finding interesting things along the way. Of course one of the best things about Italy in general is you can't go 3 meters (~10 feet) without a gelateria! So we took a little respite to enjoy our first taste of gelato in Italy before eventually finding our way thanks to our new BFF..Google Maps.