Monday, July 8, 2019

Venice, Italy With Side Trips To Murano And Burano

The sixth port on our Mediterranean dream vacation was Venice, Italy.  Being in Venice was definitely a dream come true for us.  The thought of sitting in a gondola as it makes it's way through the narrow canals, a gondolier serenading us with popular Italian songs... no, we didn't do it.  I know it's something you do if you are lucky enough to be able to visit Venice and we did think briefly about doing it but we are not that romantic I guess.  We did think it was amazing to just watch them, though, sailing through the canals with couples who looked like they were having a great time.

Before we went to explore the city of Venice, we had a Murano Glass and Burano Lace Excursion scheduled.  But, before anyone left the cruise ship to go anywhere, we were warned by the Captain that we were not supposed to make it obvious, by wearing our ship passes around our necks, that we were cruise ship passengers.  There was supposedly a huge protest happening at the moment, he told us, against cruise ships using the busy Guidecca Canal.  We don't wear our passes like some other passengers do, but we tried to look as inconspicuous as possible.  So after nervously looking around  to see if it was safe to get off the ship (that was me, Soko was fine), we boarded a private motorboat that took us through the Venice Lagoon to the floating islands.  

Our first stop was Murano.  Our guide took us directly to a glass shop where we watched a glassblower turn a piece of glass in to a beautiful vase.

The demonstration was really fun to watch but took a long time, so when our group was being led by the tour guide into the shop upstairs, I pulled Soko off the line and out into the little town.  I needed to find the Comet Glass Star that I had read about in Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports guidebook.  Thank goodness we bought the sim card for my phone so that we had the internet and could use the GPS to get us quickly to Campo Santo Stefano, where the star would be.

 From there, we only had a few minutes to poke our heads into some of the shops and buy some glass necklaces.  We definitely needed a little more time to enjoy Murano.

After shopping, we ran back to meet our group and settled into the motorboat for our ride to Burano.

We were left to wander around Burano on our own and we had more than enough time to explore this tiny island.  The first thing we wanted to do was find the lace that Burano is famous for.  We found it everywhere!  But we didn't buy any of it.  It cost tons of euro for the tiniest piece of lace.  We decided that window shopping was all that we would do here.  We did take some pictures of the lace though.

Burano is absolutely the most colorful place we have ever been in.  I would guess that it would be very hard to be unhappy on island that is so alive with color!

The Tre Ponti (Three Bridges) is a wooden bridge that connects three canals and three of the most colorful streets of Burano.

And just when we thought things couldn't get more colorful, we came upon the House of Bepi!  The most colorful house on the island.

We loved Burano and were glad we had enough time to really enjoy it.  But now it was time to get back to the motorboat and Venice.  We were excited to have extra time in Venice as our ship was anchored for an overnight stay which meant we could enjoy a dinner and evening out.

The first thing we did, after the motorboat dropped us off, was find a place to eat.  It was easy.  The dock where we were left off was lined with outdoor cafes.  We had fun people watching as we ate our caprese salad and lasagna.

After dinner we walked to St. Mark's Square.  It was a lively area and very beautiful all lit up for the evening.

From there we went to see one of the world's most famous bridges.  The Rialto Bridge crosses over the Grand Canal and what a view we had of the canal as we walked across the bridge. 

It was one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen, and I am very happy to have pictures of us next to it!

We had a great first day in this port.  It was so nice to know that we would be back in the morning to explore more of this gorgeous city.  But now it was time to get back to our cruise ship.  I was a little nervous about this.  Although we had not seen the protesters the Captain had warned us about, I had been staying aware of our surroundings.  

In order to be taken back to our ship, we had to wait in a designated area on the dock for a tender boat to pick us up.  These areas were clearly and obviously marked with the name of the cruise line to help us and other passengers get back to the right ship.  How inconspicuous are we going to look standing on this line.  Not at all, I thought as I (not Soko) nervously waited for our ride.

Day 2 was a Sunday so we started our day with mass at the beautiful St. Mark's Basilica.   One mistake we made was to book and buy tickets to take the tour here.  We didn't realize that there was nothing more to see, unless you wanted to pay extra to walk around the altar, that we didn't see when we went to mass. 

We always enjoy going to mass when we are on vacation because each church is unique and has it's own personality.   We were very happy that we had the opportunity to attend mass in Venice's most famous church.  Of course, we couldn't understand a thing, but the order of the mass is the same at every catholic church the world over so we knew what was going on.   We were just not sure why the priest lit so much incense, though.   By the time he was done walking up and down the aisles with it, we were sitting in a thick cloud of smoke.

After mass and the tour of St. Marks, with our must see list in hand, we headed for our first sight, Doge's Palace.  

Unfortunately, the line was so long and we just didn't have enough time to wait on it.  We walked around the building to see the Bridge of Sighs.  When I was a kid, I remember hearing of this bridge and thinking it was the Bridge of Size.  Now I know it was named by Lord Byron who said that prisoners would sigh at their last view of Venice before their imprisonment.  

By this time, we were getting hungry.  We didn't have a place to eat picked out for lunch so we decided to walk around the city and see what caught our eye.  The walk itself was fun with all the bridges you had to go over to get around town.

We ended up at a cute restaurant and once we sat down we found out, from a plaque close to the table, that we were sitting in the same spot where Peggy Guggenheim, in 1949, sat "carefully planning her famous collection of cubist surrealist and expressionist paintings and sculptures."

The menu the waiter handed us did not cater to English speaking tourists at all like every other menu we were given so far on our vacation.  I did recognize the words "street food" though on the description of this dish and I did figure out that it was a serving for two people.   So that's what we ordered and we had fun figuring out what was what.   All we really knew was that everything was delicious!

I decided I wanted to see Liberia Acqua Alta, after I read about it in a blogger's travel blog, so we headed over after lunch.  It's a quirky bookshop that displays their books in not the usual manner, stacked on bookshelves.   Actually there are quite a few on bookshelves but some of the books are in toilet bowls among other things!  We like to visit quirky sights when we are on vacation because it is just fun.  The giant troll under a bridge that we went to see in Seattle is still my favorite crazy sight.

After the bookstore, it was time to start heading back.  We stopped for gelato and window shopped as we made our way to the dock to board our tender.  We passed so many nice shops selling everything from pottery to shoes and lots of souvenirs, but the cutest window we peeked in that day was at the pizza shop that created these adorable faces out of pizza dough.

We made it back to the dock and boarded the tender and were thankful we didn't have any issues from protesters while we were in Venice.  We wondered why the Captain warned us about them.  We took a picture of the Campanile, the bell tower for St. Mark's Basilica, as we sailed toward the ship.

Our cruise ship pulled out of the Venice port just as we sat down to have dinner at our usual table by the window, which we loved.  Soko took a picture of me as we passed Venice.  

About 2 minutes after this picture was taken, the calm waters were invaded with protesters.  I don't know how many boats there were following our ship.  Then the law enforcement appeared and they started shooting smoke bombs and everything just turned from calm to chaotic in a very short time.  I was fine until my imagination started running away with me and I imagined that the protesters had more than smoke bombs and whatever they had would be used to damage the ship and we would be sinking in just a few minutes!

Well, I am here writing this post so we did get out of Venice safely and we were off to our next stop, Split, Croatia!  


  1. Well, that is quite an ending to an otherwise idyllic sounding time in Venice. Glad you made it out of there safely!

  2. Thanks for linking up at the #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 2! Shared ♥

  3. Looks like it was an amazing trip!!! Thanks for sharing at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home. --Jennifer

    1. It really was amazing! Thank you for hosting and letting me party with you!

  4. WOW! What a lovely trip, and scary ending! My imagination would have been a little active too! Thanks for linking up with us at the #GatheringofFriendsLinkParty 2

    1. Yes!! Thanks for letting me know I am not the only one with an active imagination!!

  5. Such a beautiful place to visit and enjoy! Let me know if you have tried my recipe..

  6. I just got back from Italy myself! We didn't cruise, my husband had business, so we had an extensive drive through the country. We arrived in Rome and saw Sand Benedetto, Venice, and Florence. I am anxious to go back and cruise the next time! What cruise line did you cruise on? Would you cruise with them again?

    1. You are so lucky that you can have a vacation in Italy and take care of business at the same time. It must have been wonderful to drive through the beautiful country. We cruised with Royal Caribbean. The ship, Vision of the Seas, for the 12 day cruise we took was really small. That would be our only complaint. We have traveled with Royal Caribbean a few times and will be cruising in Sept. with them on one of their huge ships. We can't wait!

  7. I adore Venice and enjoyed seeing it again thru your eyes. One of my favorite things to see was the view from the top of the Bell Tower because You could not see the canals and it appeared to look like any typical city! I loved taking the vaporatto up and down the canal, The Med Cruise was one of my favorites!!

    1. I would have loved to have seen the view from the Bell Tower but I have claustrophobia and have already had a panic attack and ran out of a lighthouse once lol!! But yes, Venice was amazing. Glad you enjoyed your virtual trip with us!

  8. It looks like a stunning place to visit. But what an ending! I think I would have been worrying too!! Thanks for stopping by the #dreamteam

    1. Yes, it was amazing. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  9. Wow!! amazing photos of an amazing trip!!Thanks so much for taking us all along!! Thanks too for stopping by and for your kind words on the post about my Kitchen!!

    1. Thank you for coming by and yes! loved your kitchen!!