Next, we are Venice bound and that excites us a lot! I have long dreamt of visiting the famous floating city and finally here after a 2 hours train ride from Milan. Maybe not quite Venice yet as we alighted at Venezia Mestre, which it’s one stop before the main Venezia Santa Lucia station. As I have opted to stay at a modern hotel in Mestre, just outside of Venice. No love lost since frequent trains and buses can bring us to the main island in less than 15 minutes. Quickly deposited our luggage at Best Western Hotel Bologna’s concierge and off we go! As the bus crosses the causeway bridge, we caught a glimpse of the beautiful island and it’s almost like falling in love. Gosh, she is really beautiful.
And what a big change from the usual city scenes, the main roads here are canals and people move around in boats instead of cars. All typical day-to-day errands are carried out on boats, even their police and ambulance, which reminded me of the boat chase scene in The Italian Job movie LOL.
Plenty of tourists in April and I can’t imagine being here during summer, not to mention the heat.
A gem in Pasticceria Rio Marin
The main streets of Venice are always crowded but the floating city does reward those who venture its back alley paths with pleasant surprises, and one of which is Pasticceria Rio Marin. A small cosy café situated along the quiet Rio Marin Canal which we came across. Those cakes in the window displays look delicious and we decided to take a rest here and try them out.
It’s also a nice place to chill while watching the different boats passing through the canal.
We’re glad that we did, the cakes were super nice especially their Tiramisu! It was so good that we ordered another piece LOL. There’s this nice couple from Munich in their 50’s shared the small table with us as the outdoor seats are limited. The gentleman mentioned that they had never failed to visit Pasticceria Rio Marin whenever they are in Venice because they loved the Tiramisu here, one of the best they had. We totally agreed. In which, we believe we will be doing the same in future too!
Therefore, I’m surprised that Pasticceria Rio Marin wasn’t mentioned in Tripadvisor and suggested for it to be listed. Or perhaps I shouldn’t have done that so I can keep this gem a little secret LOL. Now the goodies are out of the bag, go on and savour the tasty Tiramisu if you can find it along Rio Marin Canal. Buon Appetito!!
Getting lost in the streets of Venice
I personally think the best way to explore Venice is to roam its maze-like streets without much of a plan. Forget about maps, get lost and see the real Venice LOL! The occasional glance at the yellow direction signboards is good enough to guide me towards San Marco direction. But some signboards like the ones below are vandalized with black ink markers. Prankster?
Since we didn’t travel by boat, a great deal of time was spent walking along the narrow lanes in all directions, meeting dead ends at times. Passing by canals after canals, bridges after bridges till I lost count. But the sightings of buildings, squares and the local Venetians kept the walk interesting.
Also occasionally overhear gondoliers serenading their passengers while they skillfully navigate the small canals. We didn’t do the touristy bit by hiring a Gondola due to wifey’s motion sickness but it’s nice enough to see them in action.
And here’s a friendly Gondolier taking a breather. And yup, that’s their uniform.
We stopped for lunch at Al Pesador, a nice-looking restaurant along the Grand Canal. While the view’s great and a nice place to people-watch or spend a lazy afternoon, the pricey food is sort of mediocre which is a let-down…but the waiter who attended to us deserved a big thumb up for his excellent service.
Oh, no matter what, always make use of the restaurant’s toilet before leaving – public toilet in Venice is rare.
The famous bridge near to Al Pesador is Rialto, and it offers some of the best views of Grand Canal. It’s stunning and almost wonderfully unreal…the sensations are beyond words – you gotta see it for yourself!!
Piazza San Marco
The symbolic Piazza San Marco or simply St. Mark’s Square is next to both the equally famous Basilica of San Marco and Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). Not forgetting the Campanile Bell Tower overlooking the charming square packed with tourists and birds. Lots of restaurants around the square too but they are known for exorbitant prices.
There are merchants selling almost the same touristy thingy, perhaps the more interesting ones are the masks. For Venice is also known as ‘City of Masks’.
Don’t forget the Bridge of Sighs just around the corner of Palazzo Ducale.
Another interesting sighting is the wooden benches placed around the square, which will be used to form an elevated walking platform during “acqua alta” (high water) where high tide floods the pavements. It’s said that Venice is experiencing more of this phenomenon due to the rising sea level. Some even predicted that the floating city will be completely submerged in the near future, which I hope not else it would be such a pity.
Our time in Venice was short-lasting but we enjoyed the gorgeous city tremendously. Perhaps I will opt to stay on the main island if I were to visit here again to experience the Venetian magic at night.
STAY: Best Western Hotel Bologna review
After some extensive hotel research, I contemplated that maybe it’s worth staying at Mestre as it was half the price of staying inside Venice. Seeing others who dragged their luggage around the cobbled streets and across the numerous bridges, I believed I’d made the right decision.
Best Western Hotel Bologna looked as good as those photos at its website. The nice and spacious room with a comfortable bed ensured a good stay. I personally think the combination of low price and high comfort level makes it a worthy deal. The location is another plus, being just across the street from Venezia Mestre Station.