Saturday, July 7, 2012

To get to Venice, don't take the Alilaguna water bus if you value your family's good opinion

    Here is my top tip for visiting Venice.
    Do not, I repeat do not, use the Alilaguna water bus to get from the airport. By the time our ordeal was over Jinny was furious and Lucy was sick and not speaking to me. In fact, she even rufused to sit next to me for a while, preferring instead to sit near strangers.
    There are three ways to get from the Venice airport to your Venice hotel. ColReb chose the worst.
    Quickest and easiest is to take a water taxi. Even though quickest it will still take about 45 minutes. It’s also the costliest, and will run between 100 and 110 Euros, depending on the amount of luggage.
    Another way in, and one that Jinny and I used some years ago, is to take a land-based bus to Piazzale Roma, the one bit of Venice connected to the rest of Italy by road. This costs 6 Euros. From there you can take a vaparetto for an additional 6.50 Euros (or buy an all-day pass for a bit more). It takes the better part of an hour to get from Piazzale Roma to St. Mark’s Square, the dropping-off point for many hotels, so the trip from the airport is still going to be a two-hour affair.
    And then there’s the Aliaguna water bus. Somehow I thought this would be our best option. I don’t know why. It cost 15 euros per person, paid up front. We got our ticket, walked 10 minutes to the boat launch area, and then got in line to wait for our bus. The wait was about 15 minutes and then the bus arrived. But there wasn’t enough room on the bus so we had to wait 20 or 30 minutes for the next water bus, this entire wait being on a floating dock. We were all seasick before ever getting on the water bus.
    The concept of a queue is entirely unknown to those not of British descent. So although only a few of us didn’t get on the water bus, soon other people arrived and when the bus finally arrived it was a matter of pushing and shoving our way on board. Pushing and shoving is a way of life for Europeans. It makes them happy.
    We finally arrived at our hotel after a very long ordeal, hot, seasick, with a very unhappy wife and daughter. Everyone eventually recovered and Lucy will sometimes speak to me and even sit near me.

    On a happier note, my regular blog readers will remember that I mentioned the Daily Getaways auction some months ago. I purchased 100,000 Choice Hotels points for just over $350. It turns out the chain has been having a Europe sale, and Venice hotel rooms were on offer for 10,000 points per night. So I was able to provide a pre-cruise hotel night for everyone in the family at no charge. Given that Dad is treating us to a cruise, it was nice that I could spring for hotel rooms!
    The Comfort Hotel Diana wasn’t fancy, but it was very nice, and I liked the location, close to St. Mark’s Square, but just a bit off the beaten track. The breakfast was good and there were lots of reasonably priced places to eat nearby by. For Venice, these are a rarity! If you are looking for a reasonably priced (for Venice) hotel, this is your place. The front desk folks were just as helpful as could be, and there was a mini-bar in each room with reasonably priced water, soft drinks, and beer. We only drank a few waters, but it was nice to have handy.

    We made a mistake and boarded the Ruby Princess to start our cruise shortly after noon. We took a water taxi, and getting on and off was difficult for Dad. I can’t help but think that the ACTV public vaperettos might not be better for the wheelchair crowd.
    I say this was a mistake because we had to endure long lines, spending a long time just getting off the water taxi, and again getting a bit seasick in very choppy water. Then there was a long wait to board as we had to wait for our number to be called. Getting on a Med cruise isn’t like a Caribbean cruise – there is no rush to get on the ship. I suggest putting it off until the last possible moment. See Venice! That’s what you came for.
    It would have been easy not to have gone back out again, but I insisted we make landfall one more time, so Jinny, Lucy and I headed back to St. Mark’s Square at 7:30 p.m. for a stroll and dinner (everyone else stayed on board). Yes, we could have eaten for free on the ship, but we decided to enjoy Venice.
    Our Princess shuttle boat let us off just southeast of St. Mark’s. We decided to head southeast to an area I had never explored before and eventually we made it to Garabaldi Ave. I suppose this is in the Sant Elana district, in an area not visited by most Venice tourists. There were several giant yachts tied up along the way.
    We walked up Via Garabaldi, a wide boulevard filled with bars, restaurants, and businesses catering to Venetians. There were some Americans enjoying the restaurants, too, but clearly these was an area where locals lived and ate.
    Everyone seemed to be having so much fun at Restaurant Giorgione, so we settled on it for dinner. Jinny and Lucy loved their mushroom risoto. Everything else was good, but not great. But the music, sung by the owners, was good and fun. The violinist was quite accomplished. Oh, and our menu was in English, so it isn’t so off the beaten path that they don’t see American tourists, but I’d say it was a 50-50 split between tourists and Italians. We had a good time.
    At 11 p.m. we reboarded the Princess shuttle, this time a large ship, and made our way back to the Ruby. We had our sailaway at about 1:30 a.m., and of course we watched our exit from Dad’s balcony, making lots of racket in the process. Dad’s neighbor stuck his head around the corner and informed us that some people were trying to sleep. He wasn’t very nice about it. Half the people on the boat were laughing, yucking it up, and shouting back and forth to people on shore, but if I were trying to sleep I supposed I would be peeved, too. I’d just be more polite.
    Following our sailaway we had two sea days before our planned arrival in Athens (we’re not there yet!). Nothing to report except on what the Ruby Princess is like, and I suppose that may be my next blog post.

1 comment:

airport hotel Venice said...

It is a pity you had to endure such an unpleasant experience.