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Traveling in Venice: Taking the scenic route, always

  • July 3, 2019
  • By Karen
Traveling in Venice: Taking the scenic route, always

My trip to Venice started with a rather hasty departure from YVR. Our original flight was delayed and after a reschedule my sister in law Linda and I needed to be at the airport fast.  So we hustled our butts to leave 5 hours earlier than anticipated. 

Arriving in Venice, it was overcast but warm as we navigated our way to the Alilaguna, the city’s nautical public transportation. Due to a large race in the Grand Canal that Sunday afternoon, it was closed to the public and we had to wait a short time. This was quite alright with me as I liked being outside to take a breath after being on an extended flight.

Soon our ferry had us at the Sant’Angelo ferry stop in just under an hour.  Honestly, it didn’t feel that long as I was delighted to be taking in all the sights.  The maneuvering in the waterways, the architecture, the people – all of the things. If was a visual blast.  When you are traveling in Venice and you want to get to your destination ASAP, there are other transport options. The Alilaguna is the scenic route. 

Once we arrived, we hiked our luggage up and over only one bridge (yeah) and down some tiny cobblestone streets to the cutest little 11-room Venetian boutique hotel, Corte di Gabriela.   

In terms of Venetian boutique hotels, the Corte di Gabriela is quite unique.  Its design is not the typical Venetian design you’d expect from a 4 star hotel in this part of the world.  I appreciated its deep, intense colors and splashes of industrial accents. Exposed beams highlight the building’s heritage.  It is a unique, refurbished 19th-century building, tucked away but close to all. It’s within a 15 minute walk to Rialto bridge and St. Mark’s Square.  Our room was large, clean, and delightful.

We chatted with Serena at check in and she gave us some dinner options.  Linda and I had a quick refresh and headed out into the narrow corridors of Venice on our way to find Rossa Rosa.  I highly recommend this restaurant.  The staff was a little brisk. Let’s rephrase that: they were direct. I know there are a million little spots but this one clearly captured us as we dined there both nights we were traveling in Venice.   

My cardinal rule when traveling is “get those greens in”, so I had a simple green salad with arugula at the base and some shaved veggie on top, which was the perfect start to our meal.  Let’s not forget a hefty serving of parmesan cheese . I am not usually big on tomatoes but holy – delicious, like they were from my grandpa’s garden. Carpaccio was next and it was the biggest serving I’ve ever seen at a restaurant.  Honestly this could have been our main course but we did order course number 3. It was a fish course… seafood whenever possible, I say, unless you’re in the middle of a country, far away from water.

I had a great sleep.  When I woke all I wanted was a cup of coffee – unfortunately there were only coffee instant sticks in our room with a kettle – and that was not going to do.  Off I went in search of a real coffee. In the lobby, I asked for a cappuccino. “Ah si,” I was told by a young man. He asked me to sit. I did. And in about 4 minutes he came back with two shots of espresso in the cutest cups on a tray. One cup was kinda full with espresso and the other not so much but with a great crema.  I thanked him and went back to my room to share my findings with Linda. 

The lovely wisteria and jasmine were abundant in the courtyard which is where we sat for breakfast.  We were offered a variety of pastries, juices, meats, cheeses, and cakes, to name a few. Fresh coffee and made to order by the owner each morning was crepes and omelets. Thank you, Gian Luca. I liked this nice personal touch to start the day.  

We left the hotel with an umbrella in hand (yes, it rained) and headed to Fondamenta Nova to catch the ferry to Murano and then Burano. I know a lot of people take a boat from Piazza San Marco but check out where you are staying as you may be tacking on transportation time by leaving from there. Check out your local map and see what’s closer.

I liked Murano but loved Burano.  

Burano was full of glass shops and factories.  I witnessed a glassmaker at his craft.  It’s amazing how he manipulated the hot glass with some pliers; a few tugs and pulls and, voila, he made a horse sculpture.   All in 4 minutes. That was cool. 

Murano is smaller and more intimate even though it was crowded in spots.  The colorful buildings were a happy and fun sight. I tried something new here: my first Fritto Misto.  Have you had it before? It’s basically a quick fry of a mixture of battered seafood; we added veggies to ours too. Complete with one of my favourite fish: Sea Bream. And a cold beer, the perfecto accompaniment.  Thank you Auntie Linda for bringing this delicious-ness to my attention.

This was a long day for me. After braving the crowds to get the number 12 boat back to Venice, I was tired.  If you’re traveling in Venice, I’d suggest leaving earlier in the day and returning before everyone else does.

Back at the Corte di Gabriela, our favourite Venetian boutique hotel, we were warmly greeted by Serena at the front desk. She had more dinner suggestions for this night but I didn’t want to walk another step so we went again to Rossa Rosa.

The next morning we were off to Florence via the train.  Funny thing: I slept till 9:50 am – crazy late for me. I couldn’t believe it.  Hence, we had an express breakfast and coffee {thank you Joy}. We made a run to the farmacia to get a ferry ticket, packed our bags, and walked back over the bridge to catch the ferry to the train station. 

That was traveling in Venice: a joyful, colourful, stimulating yet relaxing 2 days. I’ll share about Florence next time…


By Karen, July 3, 2019
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