Ah, what a satisfactory tick off the bucket list! As cliché as it sounds, If there's a place to express and personify romance - it's Venice. Save this trip for someone special. Yes, you can stay in the center of Venice, but why would you when comfort and remoteness are just a 15-minute boat ride away? Introducing....Murano Island. Also - have gelato every day.
But first, let's plan:
Where to stay: I could not stress enough how relaxing, beautiful and stress-free our stay on Murano Island was. I've read so many mixed reviews regarding commuting to Venice from other islands. One, in particular, stated, 'staying in Murano compares to staying in New Jersey when visiting New York' — wrong.
First of all, Venice gets overwhelming. (This is coming from someone who's lived in New York for 16 years). It was lovely to wake up to space and an air conditioned room. The LaGare Hotel in Murano was a dream spot. By reserving a free water taxi pickup in advance, we were able to get from the airport straight to the hotel in less than 20 minutes. The public boats that take you to Venice also stop right in from of the hotel and run 24/7. This decision was even more solidified when I saw other travelers trudging their heavy suitcases in the small and crowded streets of Venice. I sighed and smiled with relief.
Murano itself is famous for its glass making. Although we did not have a chance to explore much of Murano's restaurants, the little shops with knick-knacks and other glass souvenirs are pretty neat. The glass jewelry is to die for! Make sure you get something.
(I've heard great things about staying in Burano & The Lido as well but cannot speak from experience).
You get to Venice. What now?
(5 things you must do)
1. SUSO Gelatoteca - The best gelato I've probably ever had. Rich and unique flavors. Gluten free cones. Small little shop with friendly service. Chocolate lovers - I dare you to try the Manet flavor (salted pistachio & chocolate).
2. Grand Canal - At its golden hour, this place is like no other. You don't have to do much. Just prepare to be mesmerized. Hold hands and kiss the one you love.
3. Gondola Ride - So, your driver will most probably not sing. He might pick a phone call or two during your ride and you might have trouble justifying spending 80-100 euro on this ride. Either way, do it. It's a Venetian experience you will want to have. You can have up to 6 people on the ride!
4. Eat at an authentic Italian restaurant. We tried Trattoria Al Gazzettino. Fresh home style cooking and authentic Italian hospitality. Yum!
5. St. Mark's Square - Yes, its absolutely crowded with tourists... and pigeons, but there's something so beautiful about this square. Walking distance to all the historic monuments!
What you're wondering:
Directions: I'm really awful when it comes to directions and printed maps. Luckily, Tmobile is really awesome for international travelers and I had Google maps working throughout the whole trip. If that's not a possibility, I recommend saving your location on Google maps before leaving your hotel.
Venice has been photographed and traveled to more times than can be imagined. Don't try to reinvent the wheel here. Enjoy Venice for all of its touristy magic.