19.03.2011 - 21.03.2011 12 °C
I got into Venice at night at 9:30pm. The airport is situated at the mainland and I had bought a return bus ticket €5.50 from Marco Polo airport to Piazza Le Roma. I should had just gotten a Combi ticket of €18 for a 24 hours unlimited bus and ferry ride. “Line” actually means water transport lines (ali laguna). Venice is well divided into a few areas with Marco Polo at the mainland, Venezia (where vehicles are not permitted up to some point), Murano Island, Burano Island, Torcello Island, Lido(the 11km sandy beach island where vehicles are allowed and hosts the Venice Film Festival) and other smaller Islands. Not every stop has a ticket check for entry and exit. Burano and Port Fort Nove are two that needs a ticket.
People in Venice are very helpful. I did not have a map and was struggling to find my hotel. Luckily I walked into a nearby hotel at the San Zacaria jetty and the staff printed out a map and drew the directions to my hotel. The small lanes were still confusing because there weren’t any names of the lanes written on the map, so good luck getting lost in Venice if you are there for the first time. But it is really safe even when it doesn’t look like it and the dark and small lanes give you the creeps. The best way to navigate yourself is walk towards a square, which most cases are open areas and look at the wall which is written Campo. Venice is relatively small, beautiful and walk-able. Best time to get out is when the sun rises at 6am. Give yourself some estimation of time and factor in for extra time needed if you get lost in finding your way around or just pause while being captivated by the beauty of the city when you are doing your walking tour.
Set a day for your island hoping trip to discover the nearby islands. I woke up early and walked towards Fort Nove and passed by an old church. Venice is full of old churches and entry to most are free. I bought a 12 hours ticket and went to Murano Island which is just 5 minutes ferry ride away. At Murano, there are many glass making factories where you can watch a free demonstration of glass making however, don’t buy anything from these shops as the prices have been set very high even though they promised a hefty discount. Try comparing prices at various other shops before you make your decision. Chances are you may be able to find the same thing in other shops at a much cheaper price. Most shops open at 10am. Take a good 2 hours walk around Murano and you will find many more design of Murano glass sold by many shops. From jewelries, to household display, lights to décor all made with the famous colourful Murano glass.
At Murano Island, walk towards the Faro jetty where you could take a ferry to Burano island. You will pass by Campo Santo Stefano, the main square of Murano island where you will find the clock tower and a glass comet as the Murano island icon. At the square, you will be able to find other creative glassworks made by artisans. Further down, walk towards Palazzo de Mula, the main canal of Murano where the long bridge is. I really enjoyed the scenery there.
At Faro, you will find a lighthouse, take a 25 minutes ferry ride to Burano island notable for its lace works and colourful buildings. It was a breathe of fresh air from Venice and Murano as the locals are friendlier and you will be able to walk through their neighbourhood to admire the simple yet colourful décor at the windows and doorpost. If you have time to spare, I strongly suggest you stay on this island for at least 2 hours just sit on the benches and enjoy the scenery. Beat the buzz by first walking away from the crowd towards the further end of the local neighbourhood on the right of the pier.
Across from Burano is the island called Torcello. It used to be the most populated island long long time ago but now it has only 13 occupants on that island. It has one of the oldest church around. It’s a short 3 minutes ride.
Then from Burano, I took the ferry to Lido, the long sandy strip island where they are many houses, departmental stores, vehicles are allowed. It was no different than other city life. The Venice Film Festival is also organized here yearly.
Lastly, back to Venice to enjoy a walk towards the Rialto bridge at night and enjoy some shopping around the area with fine restaurants. The next morning, I walked around Piazza San Marco and San Marco Basilica. You could feed some pigeons there. Then I took the long ferry ride from San Zaccaria on the grand canal to Piazza Le Roma to catch the bus to the airport.