Venice is a city of 117 islands, separated by 177 canals and connected by over 400 bridges. This is an amazing sight to see as you fly into the Venice airport (if you happen to have a window seat on the right side). Hundreds of cruise ships begin or end their trips in Venice, thus there is a large cruise ship terminal to accommodate these thousands of tourists such as us.
Our trip actually included an additional day in Venice before we boarded our cruise ship. Getting from the airport to our hotel in Venice turned out to be very simple, we took public transit for 3 Euros each. We hopped on the bus with our suitcases at the airport and the end of the line was on the main island of Venice. From there we walked about 300 ft. to our hotel, the Best Western Hotel Olimpia. The secret is trying to get a hotel near the end of the causeway in Venice to where vehicles are allowed to drive, otherwise you either have to take a water bus, a water taxi or walk from there to your hotel which could be a very long way through narrow laneways and crossing numerous bridges. You also could take a water taxi directly from the airport to your hotel for about 100 Euros.
There is just so much to see and do in Venice but I will only mention the few things that we actually did. All the buildings are old and thus the hotel rooms are small but comfortable. We were on the fourth floor and the elevator holds either two people or one person with two suitcases!
We were hoping for a great Italian dinner and we were not disappointed as we found a small restaurant that had fantastic Italian cuisine. Afterwards we walked around the canals near our hotel but did not wander too far off as you can easily loose your bearings especially at night with so many bridges, canals and narrow walkways that go in all different directions.
The following morning we took a water bus along the Grand Canal to the Rialto stop and from there walked along numerous narrow alleys that had great shopping to Piazza San Marco which is the most famous area in Venice. When we arrived the plaza was mostly dry however some water was starting to seep through drains onto the surface. We spent about an hour there and by the time we were leaving we had to use some of the platforms that were set up to cross over the water. Apparently the water comes up if the wind and tide conditions are right, however the merchants have all adapted to this and when the water starts coming into their stores, they move things off the floors! They also wear waterproof boots or covers.
We took another water bus back to our hotel, checked out and a taxi driver helped take our suitcases the 300 ft. to the taxi, then onto our cruise ship, the Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam. After dinner on the ship we had signed up for a shore excursion for a gondola ride, thus a water taxi met us at the ship and took us back to Piazza San Marco which was completely dry again. We had to walk through several narrow alleys at night and finally ended at a small water area that held about 20 gondolas. As we were traveling with two other couples, all six of us got onto the same gondola and began our nighttime romantic adventure. The gondola next to us had a guitar player and Italian tenor and they stayed with us, thus we had an amazing hour gliding along the dark canals of Venice, under numerous bridges (and kissing under the bridges) and into the Grand Canal being serenaded by Italian musicians in this City of Love! This magic moment ended too quickly and before we knew it, we had to return by water taxi to our ship.
The next morning we took a shore excursion to see the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and another water taxi had to take us there. This was Peggy Guggenheim’s personal collection of amazing fine art located in a building on the Grand Canal. We made it back just in time to board the ship before it left. Luckily we had booked the excursion through HollandAmerica and they waited for us to return before leaving!
We then were treated to a fantastic sail past of Venice in beautiful sunny weather as we saw Venice one more time while the Venetians and tourists watched our ship glide past.
We definitely want to return to Venice the City of Love!