Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 47: Venice (Nov 2)

Checked out of the hotel and took a vaporetto to the Santa Lucia train station to start the Grand Canal tour. First we left our luggage with the bell desk, then we went upstream to the nearby new Calatrava Bridge. I used Rick Steves’ audio guide and self-guided cruise info from his book (you pause the audio at each stop). Take the slow #1 boat (not the express #2), you can do the whole trip in 45-60 minutes if you don’t get off at any of the 16 stops. We got off at the following stops:



  •  #2 Riva di Biasio – to see the Jewish Ghetto, but there was a cool street market along the way
  • #6 Mercato Rialto – fresh fish and produce market near the stop, then walk down to the Rialto Bridge while checking out the shops along the way. Cross the bridge and pick up the vaporetto at stop #7. Take some time to check out the architecture close up, from the doorways to the piazzas.
  • #15 San Marco – to see the sights around the Basilica
From Santa Lucia to San Marco, it took us 2-1/2 hours, which included about 30 minutes in the Jewish Ghetto and an hour in the Rialto area.

Since we did the Basilica the day before, today we did the Campanile (the big clock tower) and the Doge’s Palace. Budget about 30 minutes from getting in the elevator of the Campanile til you get back on the ground in the Piazza (you can stay up as long as you like, but I don’t know how much time it’ll take in line to get to the elevator). The Doge’s Palace took us about 1:15 from getting in to getting out (again, we had no line). Then we just hung out in the Piazza and found a place for dinner on the water near vaporetto stop #16. If the line for the Doge’s Palace is long, buy your pass at the Correr Museum across the square, your ticket is good for both places (although we never used it for the Correr), then you can go directly to the turnstile without having to wait in line. (That’s a Rick tip.)

There were other museums we could have seen (the Correr in St Mark’s Piazza, Accademia, Peggy Guggenheim) but we passed due to time constraints.

Since St Mark’s is at the opposite end of the Grand Canal from the train station, we took the express #2 vaporetto to go back, where we picked up our luggage and got on the overnight train to Rome.

My recommendation for you: You can do it in a day. Do the stuff where you know there will be lines first – that’s St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and the Campanile. I have no idea how long you’ll have to wait but get there early. The Palace opens at 8:45, the Campanile at 9:00, and the Basilica at 9:30, so do the Doge’s Palace first, then the Basilica, then the Campanile (so that you can see what you just saw from a different perspective). I’d estimate those 3 sights will take a combined 4 hours, plus however long you have to wait in line, and then you can figure out from there how long you can spend getting off at stops along the Grand Canal on your way back to the train station. I would suggest that you at least do the Rialto walk between stops 7 and 6 (going from San Marco to Santa Lucia) even if you don’t stop to browse.

(Originally posted 5/13/14 at 8:44pm, Houston)

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