Accommodation | Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice
Must Do | Join a walking tour as I’m sure there is more to see and do than we experienced
Worthy to Note | Negotiate with the gondoliers as their price can vary from 20-80 euro per person; also note that the city tax is additional to the cost of accommodation.
Ever since I saw The Tourist I have wanted to go to Venice. There is something appealing about a city built entirely of islands separated by winding canals yet linked together by footbridges. What I didn’t envisage for our day trip to Venice was everything that could go wrong.
Firstly, we took a taxi from the airport to Mestre (mainland) which took 10 minutes and cost €35/$50. Ouch! We checked into our accommodation complete with green LED lighting in the shower – weird – and explored Mestre for dinner. Mestre itself actually had a cool vibe with markets on in the evening and plenty of places to people watch in the square whilst having a meal. Unfortunately, my research had failed to show that a marathon would be on in Venice. That meant no public transport into Venice, which translated to yet another taxi ride – this one was a little shorter at 7 minutes, but also cost €35/$50. Face palm. After finally working out which ferry line would take us to our accommodation at Giudecca, I bought two ferry tickets and asked if there was anything we needed to do, to which the ticket lady said “nothing, just hop on the boat”. Hopped on the boat we did, to be greeted by an officer declaring we hadn’t validated our ticket and would be fined. Excuse me, what?
After producing a receipt to show the purchase for two adults just minutes earlier, I was also informed that my ticket was only for one person (I assumed it covered the two people I paid for). So, now we were to be fined for having one ticket that was invalid and for not having a second ticket. The cost = €109/$160. Let’s just say that after much argument in broken English/Italian, we chose the “we’ll pay later at a post office” option whilst crossing our fingers behind our back.
Nevertheless, after an eventful morning, we dropped our luggage at the hotel and headed into San Marco to a festive crowd, sweaty runners, and bountiful gondoliers ready to pounce on tourists none-the-wiser. We wound our way through the masses, over footbridges, and into a number of shops with the same offerings of glass blown figurines and venetian masks. We did try a thick slice of amazing caramel nougat, whilst fending off the nearby pigeons. Those things are relentless!
We made our way to the bottom of the Rialto Bridge and took pause to capture the view, trying to appreciate the moment despite everything. My husband took a step down to get a better angle and bam! he lost his footing on the algae-covered step, fell camera-in-hand, and slipped partway into the canal. Seriously! The poor thing had soaked boots and green algae smeared up the entire side of his cream-coloured chinos. With nearby cafes unwilling to provide napkins, we made our way to a public toilet, paid the 2 euro fee, and proceeded to clean him up with pink toilet paper. Are you amused? I hope so.
Determined to shake off the taxi extortion, ferry fine, and canal plunge, we did the only thing possible: headed back to our hotel and indulged in a relaxation massage complete with two hours complimentary use of the sauna, steam room, and spa…. ahhh, bliss. Sometimes, it is very worthwhile having an incredible hotel – the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice was one of those times. It was worth every single cent. Looking back, Venice certainly wasn’t the highlight of our trip. It was out of our way in terms of our itinerary, and we didn’t have the greatest of first impressions. Saying that, there were moments of movie-like magic – when the buildings first started to appear through the mist, and at nightfall when the lights flickered over the Grand Canal as we sipped on cocktails. If you plan on visiting, I would simply encourage you wipe your expectations, and ensure your accommodation is amazing – just in case!