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OK, so this is not a full day in Venice but we still managed to do quite a bit. We arrived at 11:40am on a train from Milan. First time for the kids- and it was pouring!!!
Let me start by saying that the weather was WRONG! My app kept saying that it was cloudy and dry as we stood outside the train station in the rain, so much for technology. Still, I will never forget the look of awe on their faces as we walked out of the station and instead of a busy street it was the Grand Canal!!
We purchased umbrellas and 36hr Vaporeto tickets (in that order) and lugged our suitcases on to the waiting Vaporeto #1. This in and of itself is a feat!!!
As the boat approaches tourists crowd the gate, once the boat docks and the gate is lifted folks get off and you have to fight against the crowd for room on the boat. All the time the guy is yelling “andiamo, andiamo” so that the boat can go on its merry way. Welcome to Venice!! Vaporeto rides are fun, just not with suitcases!
We got off at our stop and had a 10-minute walk to our hotel. As everyone knows, Venice is a water city, but this does not mean that there are no streets, and navigating these can be very tricky. Make sure you have very clear instructions of how to get to where you are going because maps can be pretty much useless. And if you do get lost, just remember that this is an island and you won't be lost for too long!
Having checked into our Bed and Breakfast we went looking for a late lunch. There are restaurants everywhere and most offer lots of seafood, we were looking for some comfort food so went for pizza. First time ever our veggie pizza had corn on it!
We hopped back on the Vaporeto and headed into the main part of town. Venice is really like no other city on Earth. The traffic on the canal, the tourists, the locals with their dogs, the street vendors- it is a jumble of activity and energy that takes your breath away.
In St Marks we listened to Rick Steves audio tour. When we can, we do audiotours with our kids. We can pace ourselves and always pause for their questions. It took about an hr and a half by which point we were ready for a snack.
Café Florian is a treat! It is a tourist trap, don't get me wrong, but having coffee at the oldest café in the world is something to brag about! We sat in a room that reminded us of the “Venetian Room” at the Schloss Leopoldskron in Austria and I love when the kids make those kinds of connections.
By the time we were done with coffee the rain had stopped and we decided to walk the streets and get a feel for the city.
The bookshop was interesting. It got mixed reviews from the different members of our family but I personally loved it! It is messy, confusing, it smells like paper and has cats that lay on the piles of maps and books. We browsed for a while and then walked back to the tourist area for some dinner by the Grand Canal.
This is also a tourist trap, expensive but pleasant. We had a nice meal and the staff was friendly and inviting. There is something to be said about having dinner next to the Canal. The cacophony of sounds can be overwhelming! The conversation around our table was in all different languages and the gondoliers yelled greetings at each other while the sound of the boats tried to drown them out… Like I said, an experience!
Venice at night is not to be missed so after dinner we walked some more and marveled at the reflection of the lights on the water and the nightlife around the cafes. The city was definitely a hit with the whole family.
Venice: Arrival/St.Marks audiotour/Cafe Florian/Acqua Alta bookshop
Ages of the kids at the time: 11, 14, and 15
There are lots of souvenir stores full of masques and murano glass, also gourmet shops with different types and shapes of fresh pasta and delicious desserts. We made our way to a bookstore we had read about called Acqua Alta. It is one of the most interesting bookshops in the world. The walk to the bookshop was nice as it takes you away from the major tourist sites and allows you to breath and see the city as it is. We passed local restaurants and grocers and kids playing on the streets.