I have never been the type of person who can wait all year to get away for that long summer break. Sorry babes, this is 2015 and I’m into instant gratification. As a result, I love a mini break.
A mini break is the perfect way to jet off for a weekend, using minimal annual leave and saving those pennies, while still having an amazing experience which will keep you glowing for the next few weeks at work. So in light of my love affair with long weekends, a couple of months ago I took a trip over to Venice with two of my best friends.
[NB: I think the whole ‘initial’ thing for keeping your mates anonymous is a little passé, so for the purposes of this post, I went to Venice with two friends known as “Countryfile” and “City Slicker”.]
With any mini break, time is precious and therefore good organisation is key. My favourite way to plan these trips is with a little beauty I like to call the ‘FUNGENDA’.
Always looking to save money wherever we can, we opted to stay in an apartment rather than a hotel. Trusty www.booking.com led us to Stars of Venice, run by the lovely Francesca. Our room was clean and spacious, as well as having a brilliant location (being about a 10 minute walk from Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge). Francesca collected us from the water taxi stop and showed us to our room (The Elizabeth Taylor Suite #fancy), where she proceeded to give us a brilliant and very thorough introduction to the local hotspots.
Once City Slicker, Countryfile and I had danced to some Lethal Bizzle, taken some selfies and thrown our clothes all over the Elizabeth Taylor suite, we decided to head out and explore. After being lost for what seemed like hours in the confusing maze of bridges and streets (with a slight pizza related intermission), we eventually found the beautiful Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. We spent the evening dining in Ristorante Quadri in Piazza San Marco (as recommended by Francesca, and now me too).
By day 2, we had become more accustomed to the twists and turns of the Venetian side streets and so our plans became far more productive.
We started off at the Rialto Market. The well-known fish market was stocked with the most weird, wonderful and freshly caught sea specimens I had ever seen!
We indulged in more traditional breakfast foods however, and headed straight for the lemon, white chocolate and hazelnut canolis, nutella filled croissants and fresh strawberries.
After eating amongst the hordes of pigeons that decided to attack our breakfast, we decided to take part in the obligatory gondola ride. Gondola prices are fixed in Venice to prevent tourists from being ripped off. A 30 minute tour during the day costs 80 Euros (per boat, not per person!) which is more than worth it for the amazing experience. The gondolier answered any questions we had about Venice’s canal system but it was nice to just sit back and relax as an Italian singer complete with accordion floated past, creating a beautiful soundtrack to our trip.
For lunch we stuck to the Rialto area, trying out the fresh local sea food and obviously, pizza. This was one of the many restaurants along the Grand Canal designed to lure in tourists, but we couldn’t fault the food or the service so … thumbs up!
We also found time to visit the Doge Palace, which had been on my fungenda hit list since day one. It was a perfect way to escape the rain and learn about the many things this decadent Palace had been used for. ‘The Bridge of Sighs’ held a particularly solemn history!
Our final meal of the day was DELICIOUS. We trekked all the way to Campo San Polo to taste the delights of Birraria La Corte, which boasts the best pizza in Venice. It certainly did not disappoint (try the Formager)!
The final day was potentially the best day of the trip. After dealing with grey skies and light drizzle for the first two days of our trip, the sun beamed down and our sunglasses finally came out.
We decided to go island hopping in the Venetian lagoon with a company called ‘Alilaguna’, and visited the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. The tour lasted for around 4.5 hours, involved 4 different languages, left frequently and cost only 20 euros.
Murano is known as the glass blowing island, for the high amounts of … well, glass blowing. Our stop here involved a glass blowing demonstration, as well as a chance to look around the shop afterwards. You’re not obliged to watch this, and can simply go and explore the island yourself, but time is limited to around one hour at each stop and it was actually quite cool to watch someone create a tiny horse out of a lump of molten glass.
Burano, known for its brightly coloured houses, made for some amazing photography. There are various shops you can visit selling Venetian masks and jewellery, a lace making demonstration (which we politely declined) and the chance to taste gelato in a range of unique flavours (including Bellini!).
Torcello was the final stop on the tour and this island is known for its peaceful vibe. We decided to have lunch at Taverna Tipica Veneziana, which looked like a pop up restaurant with some picnic benches. For sheer authenticity, I feel that this was the best meal we had during the trip. We ordered seafood risotto, mixed fried fish and fried polenta, which were heaped generously into EDIBLE bowls straight from the saucepan. The food was delightful, only slightly overshadowed by the random goat enclosure in the back. Who doesn’t love goats?
In conclusion, definitely go to Venice. It’s beautiful, the people are friendly and the food is delicious. However, here are some things to bear in mind –
- Venice is hella expensive, so be aware that trying to control your money is like trying to hold water!
- Do not visit Venice if you suffer from Ornithophobia – there are insane amounts of pigeons ready to attack you.
- Buy tickets for the island tour in advance; the tours are extremely popular and fill up fast.
If you’ve made it to the end, thanks for reading my first blog post!
~ Plane Emoji