Hey Babe, let’s go to Italy in 48 hours for 48 hours my 30th!
If you know anything about me you know I love travel and can be implusive. Hence my last minute decision to be in Italy in 48 hours for my 30th birthday. I was indecisive and a mess about celebrating with a few local friends or going elsewhere with my significant other (S.O.). After looking at a few Atlanta venues and restaurants, getting anxious over what I would wear and how I wanted to do my hair, I decided on the latter…at the last minute. Italy sounds SO much better than figuring out the pressures of partying at home. Weird, I know. So I did what I always do with my last minute travel plans – turned to google, pinterest, trip advisor and started looking at flights. 2 hours later flights were booked, 4 hours later a hotel was booked, and 40 hours later we were sitting in Delta One sippin’ on mimosas headed to Venezia, Italia!
8.22.17 | We left ATL on the 5:50 PM DL0192 flight into VCE Marco Polo Airport. We arrived 8.5 hours later at 9 AM to a relatively painless 40-minute customs wait. You may have a longer wait (45-60 minutes) if you aren’t one of the first few rows exiting the plane racing to the front of the customs line. Be mindful not to book any excursions IN VENICE before noon on the day of your arrival. I thought we would make it in time for an 11AM tour I really wanted to take. Luckily, I fell asleep and forgot to book it or else we would have missed it and wasted that moula. Be sure to have your camera ready and a window seat when you land to view the Swiss Alps as you fly in. Breathtaking!
Soooooo, I should be embarrassed that I had NO EARTHLY IDEA there are no cars in Venice. Like, for real for real. A car-less city! EVERYTHING is done by boat. Pretty freaking cool surprise if you ask me. No one ever really mentions it when you google “Top 5 things to do”or “Top 5 places to stay” or “Top 5 places to eat in Venice.” Pretty important piece of info to leave out if you ask me, which no one did. So, here ya go! No cars in Venezia. After getting through customs and grabbing our bags, we (meaning me because he was sitting on a nearby bench chillin enjoying the clutch, free Venice airport wifi) were undecided on how to get to the island. (Not so) “luckily” I had a very confusing screenshot from 9:45the night before of a tripadvisor comment on the multiple ways we could get to our hotel to drop our bags and start exploring. Luckily my cell phone was fully charged when we landed, so I coulded the hotel about 7 times to figure out what to make of this screenshot and the transportation kiosks in the airport I was starring at into oblivion.
Let me break the options down for you much better than this screenshot did now that you understand there are no cars in the city, and even the public transportation is all by waterboat. Before I do, you should note the airport is NOT located on the island, but on the mainland where there ARE plenty of cars and buses. Ok, back to HOW the HECK to get to the island….Trust me, this should save you 45 minutes of starring at the kiosks talking to just as many unprepared and confused Americans and Canadians about which transportation option is best.
A. Direct Boat from Marco Polo Airport to the island of Venice
1. Alilaguna Vaporetto – public transportation waterboat (take the orange line) that takes you directly into Venice. You need to know which “bus/boat” stop to get to your hotel (approx 45 minutes; 15 EUR)
2. Private boat taxi – takes you directly from VCE to your hotel/accommodations pier (approx 30 minutes; 100-150 EUR)
B. ATVO + ACTV (this is what we did) Take the 20 minute ATVO public, coach bus ride (8EUR) from VCE Airport to the entry of Venice at the main bus terminal, Piazzale Roma. There I bought a 7.50 EUR ACTV waterbus ticket (KEEP THIS) to ride down the Grand Canal to our Venetian destination. I would suggest purchasing a 2-day ACTV pass (or one week or however long your stay is instead of purchasing twice), as this will be your means of transportation from one location to another on your island. Think of the ACTV as you uber/watertaxi around Venice. Also, you can purchase a roundtrip 15 EUR ATVO bus ticket to get back to the airport when you purchase the original ticket. We didn’t know if we wanted to take a direct boat back or not at the time so we didn’t purchase RT – Thank God! But I will get into that later.
Where We Stayed
When I tell you I hit the JACKPOT on our hotel. Man, I honestly don’t even know where to begin. Location – Perfect! Ease to find from ACTV boat stop – Perfect! Luxury – PERFECT! Price – PERFECTO! Room size & quality – Perfect! THAT SHOWER – holy, sweet baby Jesus. PERFECTO x 100! The covered garden and the guest room with the perfect Italian shutters overlooking that garden – Perfecto! The high ceilings & decor – Perfect. The Double Vanity, Bidet (that I didn’t use), the hot breakfast & smart TV were all unexpected cherries on top… I mean, I could go on and on, but I guess I will just stop and tell you where we stayed.
The Palazzetto Madonna! You do not have another choice if you want romance, undisturbed sleep, local dining and affordable luxury right on the river. We were literally 1-2 stops (depending on which ACTV line) from the main Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal, but neatly tucked away from the busyness and rush of the bustling, touristy parts of the city. Once you get to Piazzale Roma, the main bus terminal on the island, take the red, F-2 ACTV line to San Toma Stop. Get off the pier, take the first left then your first right, and voila! The hotel is right there on your right hand side under a big red draped hotel sign and gold, square window plates. If you take a private taxi boat direct from the airport it will literally drop you RIGHT in front of the hotel. I think it is def worth taking the bus + public transport bus option upon entry into the city so you see how everything works since you will be using boats to get around for the rest of your trip. I found the hotel here on booking.com.
Where We Played
So I am NOT here to show you the highlight reel that you see on instagram, but the REAL DEAL. I know that is why you came anyway – for the juicy stuff. Well, when traveling with your S.O. (or even a friend/parent), it can be the most stressfully delightful experience. Did I just make up a word? I mean, who doesn’t want to stroll hand in hand through the streets of Venice taking kissie selfies on a gondola ride after eating margherita pizza and ice cream in the streets with your lover? Welp, all of that happened, but only AFTER I nearly cursed him out and slapped him within 3 hours of arriving in lovers’ paradise.
WHY. DO. MEN. REF– USE. TO. GET. DIRECTIONS?
No, seriously. It takes like 0.00048 seconds to stop and ask. I actually just got mad all over again typing this. I mean, Jesus. He didn’t spend the last 48 hours reading articles about how everyone gets lost in Venice because every winding back street and back alley looks the same. I digress.
I was bummed that I didn’t get the tour of my choice since I fell asleep before booking it, but saw great reviews and booked this one for half the price, which left at 3 PM with a 2:45 PM meet time across Grand Canal on the other side of the fish-shaped island. FYI, the Grand Canal is the big S-shaped waterway and main “water road” you use to get around the island.
Instead of taking the TWO SHORT TURNS (left then right this time) to get us back to the ACTV stop in literally 3 minutes, we were lost for 15 minutes because “all we have to do is head this way, Fallon. Chill out.” I should preface my annoyance with the fact that we checked in early to our hotel after waiting an hour for our room in the delightful hotel garden napping. He also napped once we got to the room. Anyone else notice a problem here? NO FOOD! I’ve not once mentioned food since we landed. So not only were we rushing at 2:15 PM post-nap to find the location for the 3 PM tour, but I also needed to eat AND charge my brand new camera battery that only charged for 30 minutes at home before our flight. We barely found the tour meet up point in the nick of time (literally right next door to H&M, so just ask for H&M, not the agency listed on the tour voucher details. Much easier to find). We managed to walk 45 seconds from the bank near the Campo San Luca square for 2 EUR pizza slices and water. #Winning!
I love that at the end of the excursion you get to take a gondola ride, which is included in the price of the excursion. This can be SUPER expensive to do on your own, but is well worth splurging on. Luckily we didn’t have to. We finished the ride and the afternoon exploring all the high end stores in the area – Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel (torturing him while I tried on the CUTEST Versace LBD) – before heading back to the H&M/Guess/Calvin Klein area to find him jeans to wear… because of course he didn’t pack any [insert rolling eye emoji].
After dinner at the cutest restaurant just a 30-second walk from the hotel, we strolled through the city and took photos on the Rialto bridge before stumbling across the Bacaro Jazz Bar where the music is tired and the ceiling is lined with bras. Weird. Oh, and everyone went crazy over Adam DeVine being there and started chanting his name as he tried to drink in peace. We met some Canadians and a newly-married couple honeymooning who wanted to hit the club after to celebrate my birthday. My feet were already on fire from 5-inch platforms, yet we still tipsily walked 20 minutes through every dark back alley imaginable to an empty club. Needless to say I was pissed, but after they forced 2 birthday shots and a long island (and a half) down my throat coupled with a few requested Future songs (Birthday Song and Mask OFF), I was smiling and dancing in my S.O.’s shoes. Yup, he walked the dark streets of Venice and danced in the club with nothing but socks on. Guess he redeemed himself from getting on my last nerve earlier that day. Oh, but I SHATTERED my iPhone while leaving the club and immediately was pissed again that we didn’t just head home after the Jazz Bar with horrible music.
Day two we got an unexepcted, BOSS private boat to the island of Murano – check this – FOR FREE, just for staying at the Palazzetto Madonna. We then took a private boat from the glass shop to the lighthouse ACTV stop in Murano to get to Burano! After caprese salad and the best pesto pasta in my 30 years of life at Ristorante dolla Mora and ice cream at the little gelato store with the blue and white tent cover across the street, I was anxious to get to our next stop – instagram heaven – better known as Burano.
We took a 30 minute-ish vaporetto waterbus ride to the island,where we walked the streets with the tourists to explore the little city where every house is a different color. FIND THIS PINK HO– USE with the pink flowers. I don’t even like pink, and it was beautiful to me. I kept thinking of how much of a blissful fit Shelby (Julia Roberts in Steel Magnoilas) would’ve had taking it all in! And take a pic under a house with an address significant to you! 8/24 is my birthday, and I almost didn’t get this shot with the green birthay house. You may want to find a house where the residents aren’t sitting right at the door wondering why in the sam H-E-double-hockey-sticks you’re taking a picture at their door. It may be awkward. I may or may not be speaking from personal experience. After some vino rosso I took in every moment of the sunset over the water while we caught the ACTV back to the Fondamente Nove stop. Naturally we got lost (which was a legitimate item on my Venice to-do list #missionAccomplished) trying to get back to Rialto/San Toma, but stumbled across the cutest little bustling street with TONS of restaurants and even a McDonalds – the only one I saw the whole time I was there.
Can’t lie, I am kind of bummed that we were too tired from getting home from the empty club at 4 AM on night 1 + jet lagged that we didnt leave the hotel until 3 PMon Day 2. We were supposed to explore the main top 5 sights. Welp, at least we got lost. Plus there’s always next time!
Where We Dined
- Lunch Day 1: Campo San Luca back alley Pizza stand
- Dinner Day 1: Trattoria Dona Onesta Reluctantly had the best seafood spaghetti of my life
- Lunch Day 2: Ristorante dolla Mora
- Dinner Day 2: Restaurant directly on the other side of the canal next to Dona Onesta by the hotel
- Breakfast Day 3: Hot + Continental Breakfast at the hotel
What It Cost Us
Flights – On average (from the US/Canada, I would be prepared to spend $900-$1,500), but it depends on so many factors. Where you are flying from? Are you booking direct or connecting? Are you use credit card reward points or redeeming airline miles? Do you have an airline emplyee friend or hook up? Did you book early and snag a good deal? Are you booking first class for those lie-flat seats for your overnight flight or coach? Are you going during high season?
Hotel: $368 + 18 EURO exit tax for 2 nights
- 8 EUR pp – ATVO public bus (at airport) + 7.50 EUR ATCV boat ride from Piazzale Roma
- 30 EUR pp – 2-day ACTV Vaporetto public transportation pass (boats daily from stop to stop)
- 130 EUR – Private taxi from hotel directly back to airport 20-30 min. quick ride
- 20 EUR – 3 minute Mercedes Benz Van ride with Porter Trasbagagli Service from airport dock to terminal 20 EUR. You can skip this expense by actually arriving at the airport on time, and walking 15 minutes to the terminal. Be mindful you will have youluggage. Per usual we were running late (arrived at the terminal at 9:41 AM for an 11 AM international departure) and couldn’t spare the 15 minutes. It was also a way to get rid of some extra EUROs before departing Italia.
- $56 per person walking tour (gondola ride included)
- Murano and Burano exploration, including FREE “window shopping” in high end stores
- 2 EUR pizza per person + 3 EUR water
- 2 EUR large water
- 60 EUR dinner #1 + 25 EUR drinks @ Jazz Bar + 45 EUR drinks bar #2
- 80 EUR dinner #2
- 25 EUR lunch day 2, + 5 EUR ice cream day 2
- free breakfast at hotel day 3
Other: 5 EUR White hat
*Note, we exchanged about $670 USD for 500 EURO at the ATL airport since we knew we would need EURO immediately upon landing for transportation to the island. Alternatively, you can use an ATM when you land as well.
There are only a few countries and international cities I want to visit more than once. Venice, is one of them. So, in my best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice – “Venezia, I’ll be back!”
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Where is your dream vacay? Where do you want me to go next and blog all the details so you can go without doing any planning yourself?