• Venice: Day 2

    July 8, 2018
  • Our next day in Venice was a Sunday and it was another beautiful day with 27 C and very sunny! Sunscreen for sure this day and a hat for Hubby! We missed breakfast as usual, sleeping in! With a great night’s sleep in a comfy bed which we had not experienced for six nights, it was a joy to wake up to the sunlight and begin the day rested and ready to go! We were out of the room by 11:30 AM and out onto the Riva Degli Schiavoni. This is when we noticed that you could hardly move with the masses of people.

    St. Mark’s Square Venice

    There were many cruise ships in port and you could hardly move in any direction both on the Grand Canal or the bridges or alleyways. There were wall to wall people everywhere! Quite frankly, I don’t think I had ever seen so many people in one place at a time, not even the Vatican was this crowded! The cruise ships are the source of much of the congestion with over 300 cruise ship visitations a year and with 30,000 cruise ship passengers tramping though the small ancient city per day along the small streets. It was very slow going! The only reprieve was when you hit St. Mark’s Square where at least the large square could hold a lot of people.

    Busy Place is St. Mark’s Square Venice

    As we were interested in visiting St. Mark’s Cathedral, we headed towards the square. In 1094 the supposed body of St. Mark was rediscovered in a pillar at the church. Of course there has been a lot of work done on the Basilica over a thousand years, however the basic shape of the church remains the same as when it was started! St. Mark’s Basilica is famous for its displays of Gold Ground Mosaics on all the ceilings and upper walls. The Basilica has a nickname in Venice, Chisea d’Oro, Church of Gold! We would have loved to get inside but the line-ups were unreasonable. We stood in line for 30 minutes and based on our progress we estimated at least a couple of hours wait likely. So enough of that! Time for lunch and a beer!

    MK and Hubby Outside St. Mark’s Square Venice

    We walked through the back alleys down to Niccolo Tommaseo Square where to our delight there was a nice square surrounded by sidewalk cafes. We had lunch with a few cold ones and the pizza was great, 20 Euros! A bargain we thought!

    Niccolò Tommaseo Square

    We retraced our steps back to the hotel and with the great heat and the maddening crowds from the cruise ships, we retreated to our hotel room for an afternoon siesta! It was great to be in the middle of things and be able to take a much needed break from it all. We had done quite a bit of walking this morning and it was nice to get back and relax for a little while.

    The Gondola Station off the Alleyway in Venice!

    Around 4:00 PM we went out again and the crowds had greatly diminished and it had cooled off a little as well. The line-ups at St. Mark’s Square were shorter but still way too long for us. So we decided to explore the square and all the back streets around the square. You never know what you may come across when exploring the small alleyways and streets! We did a little window shopping of the designer brand name stores and there were many of them such as Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga Venice, Sisley Venezia, Prada, Versace and Burberry which I might add all had security in the door fronts. All of these stores were on the same back alley leading out of Piazza San Marco.

    Main Shop Street off the Grand Canal Where all the Exclusive Shops Are!

    Especially Loved the Blue Ladies on the Balconies!

    The crowds had really tapered off now. All of the cruise ships start leaving after 5:00 PM and you can then enjoy the Venice waterfront on the Grand Canal in a much more relaxed fashion. We strolled along the waterfront and took in the views and I decided to stop at one of the local vender stalls and see what I could find to buy. I spotted a beautiful T-Shirt with a Venice scene on the front and was smitten. While I was there I saw another lady trying to barter with the vendor for another shirt. They were into it hot and heavy when I interrupted and he came to me as I wanted to purchase the shirt and some other things like magnets and key chains! He seemed relieved and when we closed the deal, he said “some people want to steal your livelihood with their stupid wrangling.”  I nodded I understood and I knew he was right as the shirt and the items I purchased were very reasonably priced. We left and went back to the hotel for another rest before dinner.

    Dinner and a Walk on the Grand Canal of Venice!

    After a Gin and Tonic we went out for dinner at a place right on the Riva Degli Schiavoni, a place called Ristorante Principessa. The food was nothing special. Hubby had Lasagna and I had the cannelloni. I think Hubby and I have cooked better Italian food than anything we experienced eating in Italy. A disappointment really. The food was much, much better in Portugal!

    The Old Churches on the Old Streets of Venice!

    Monday morning we were focused on extracting ourselves from our hotel room by 11:00 AM which was our check out time! We were up in time for breakfast this time and I must say it was a pretty good buffet with coffee, tea, juices, cheeses, cold cuts, breads, eggs, sausages and all included in the price of the room at the Hotel Bisanzio.

    Taking in the Sights and the Views of Venice around The Grand Canal Area!

    On check out we arranged for a water taxi to take us to Marco Polo Airport on the mainland! Our British Airways flight was scheduled for 3:50 PM departure so we booked the taxi to pick us up at 1:45 PM. It was only a 20 minute boat ride direct to the airport from outside the hotel. We had a couple of hours to kill which meant time for a walk down Riva Degli Schiavoni again. St. Mark’s Square was jam packed again this morning. We decided to escape into the cool back alleys of Venice where perhaps the tourists weren’t so prevalent. We found a very nice place to sit on the side of a small cobbled street and ordered a couple of beers. It was a very interesting street and we were able to people watch many of the locals as they went about their business. There were numerous birds around and we saw one poor fellow get pooped on by one of the birds. After a little swearing and a girl from the shop coming to his rescue with wet cloths and tissues, it was all fine! A great way to waste some time!

    Some Window Shopping and a Beer Stop on the Side Streets of Venice!

    We were back to the hotel by 1:15 PM and we rounded up our luggage, took a bathroom break and were able to print off our boarding passes on the hotel computer and printer. We were out to our departure point which was a couple of minutes from the hotel and with the assistance of a hotel employee we were right on time at 1:45 PM. The taxi was right on time too!

    Some Really Interesting Shops and the Gondola Stop on the Grand Canal!

    We were quoted 120 Euros to the airport which was expensive indeed, but unless you want to take 2-3 hours to get to the airport on the less expensive ferries with many, many stops, you really don’t have much choice. Everything moves on the water in Venice. We would be at the airport in 20 minutes!

    The Grand Canal & St. Mark’s Square! Spectacular!

    Our ride to the airport by water taxi was a blast! This water taxi had spacious leather upholstered seating and open air seating in the stern. It was indeed a high speed run. We started off on a small canal before joining the Grand Canal and then out into the Venetian Lagoon. From there it was a high speed run directly to the airport (8 KM) water entrance. It was definitely a lot of fun on a hot sunny day and we encouraged the pilot to go as fast as he wanted. We took lots of pictures. A much different view from our entry point by train for sure!

    Our Ride on the Waters of Venice Italy! Amazing Place!

    Upon arrival at Marco Polo Airport we estimated we had a little less than 2 hours to get to the gate. However, the lineup to security was literally out the door of the airport. It was a 15 minute wait from outside the door from the boat dock. It was another 30 minutes to get through security, and another 30 minutes to get through passport control. We arrived at the gate just 25 minutes before scheduled departure. However, our flight was late by over 40 minutes. So all was well! So be prepared if you fly out of Venice to get to the airport early to make sure you catch your flight. Nobody told us how bad it was!!

    Cruising the Canals of Venice!

    The terminal at Marco Polo Airport is quite modern and  was opened in 2002, but it already appears to be at full capacity. It is the fourth busiest airport in Italy and saw 10 million passengers in 2017. Our British Airways flight to Gatwick was scheduled to take 2 hours and 10 minutes. The total cost was 390 Euros for both of us. So not as cheap as they make out the flights in Europe are! If we had taken a 6:50 AM Easy Jet flight to Gatwick our price would have been about half as much! So there are lots of ways to cut costs if you are willing to travel early in the mornings and can get the deals if they are available!

    Water, Water Everywhere!

    Our flight to Gatwick on British Airways was uneventful. The highlight was flying over the Alps and the lovely views that came with it! We arrived in Gatwick at 6:40 PM. British Airways has joined Easy Jet and Ryan Air in a race to the bottom in terms of in flight service and cramped seating. Hubby  is finding it increasingly harder to travel with his 6″3″ frame forced into such small seats and spaces. The only alternative is to pay much more for the few seats that have more space, which even then is not a lot of space!!

     Boat Ride on the Canals of Venice!

    As usual at Gatwick, most of the Customs Processing People are dedicated to the EU passengers. We usually have a 30-40 minutes to get through Customs and only after the EU passengers have been processed first. Its a real pain in the ass!! We were booked into the Gatwick Hilton for the night. Our flight on WestJet back to St. John’s was scheduled for 9:50 AM the next morning. The Hilton at Gatwick made it very easy to get over to our flight the next morning as the Hilton is connected directly to the Gatwick Airport.

    Leaving Venice! I’m so Glad I Got to Meet You!

    The walk over to the Hilton is about 20 minutes, so we stopped at a couple of stores to pick up some water and snacks plus a few alcoholic beverages for the evening stay. The hotel itself was quite busy. British Airways was experiencing a computer problem which had cancelled over half of its flights. So many people were looking for a room. We had prepaid our booking so no problem securing our room. They even upgraded us to a higher quality room when we checked in. The lady on the desk had told us that all their rooms had been secured and some people had paid $1000.00 a night to get one!

    Heading Into Marco Polo Airport Venice! The Views From the Water Taxi were Amazing!

    We paid 100 pounds for one night for our room and it was very nice, roomy, modern nice beds, mini-fridge, coffee maker and a nice big screen TV and our room was located in the new wing of the hotel. We were very pleased. We decided on room service as well for dinner as the restaurants upon our arrival seemed like standing room only. Hubby had a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich and I ordered a BLT. The food was quite good and we had some nice wine that we had picked up on the way from the airport to the hotel. Dinner cost 41 pounds!

    The Escalator To Get to the Main Terminal at Marco Polo Airport! Its about a 20 Minute Walk From the Waterfront Drop Off!

    A very nice night for sure and a great night’s sleep. We were up at 6:30 AM to get over to the airport by 7:45 AM. Our information was that it would take almost 40 minutes to get to security at the North Terminal. We completed security at 8:30 AM and since we didn’t have to be at gate until 9:20 AM we had some time to get a little breakfast. We had 30 pounds left so we splurged on a full English for two. Just enough cash to cover it.

    We were at the gate on time and the flights was on time, so everything went smoothly. On the way back to St. John’s, we reflected on our latest junket to Europe. Portugal, namely Albuferia and Lisbon were great. The Almalfi Coast was beautiful scenery wise and the weather was great, but the hotel was barely adequate and very expensive and the food was not great either!

    Venice, scenery wise was outstanding, the hotel was great and the overall Venice experience was great with the canals, the historic sights were wonderful and the water taxi was amazing. However, the crowds were maddening and the food was not great!

    We would go back to The Almalfi Coast if we won the lottery, but on our next visit to Europe we do not need to win the lottery to enjoy Portugal again!!!!

    MK