Island Hopping in Venice

I had a lot of ideas about how we could spend our second day in Venice. We could go museum hopping, island hopping or some combination of the above. We really didn’t have much time. With our 6 and 7 pm flights and an hour-long vaparetto ride to the airport, we had until late afternoon in the city. There were two hard requirements for the day. First, we needed to do a nice lunch. Second, Chris’s mom and aunt wanted to attend mass at San Marco’s basilica. We decided on the somewhat ambitious island hopping itinerary. It would be a tight fit and would require an early start, but we figured we could do it.

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We met in San Marco Square. On our walk along the lagoon the night before, we happened upon a dock with a vaparetto route that said it went to Burano. That would make the logistics easy for the trip. Unfortunately, a quick Google Maps search that we should have done the day before told us that we had to get to the other side of the island to actually take the vaparetto there. It was unfortunate, but it still made for an easy meeting point and we watched people set up to raise the Venetian, Italian and EU flags.

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After running across the island and experiencing some chaos trying to get tickets for the vaparetto, we were on our way to Burano. We got the day pass, which ended up working really well for our plans. The trip out took about 40 minutes, which sounds long but was also shorter than I expected.

Burano is a very picturesque island full of lace shops and very colorful fishermen houses. The island was still waking up when we got there, really only full of fellow tourists getting photos of the colorful canals. They truly were something else, though.

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Now, there was one theme in the week of travels that everyone else experienced and that was the morning coffee and pastry ritual. This day was supposed to be more of the same. The initial idea was to grab something before we left for Burano, but I was very insistent that we leave early and eat there. Not only did we have a tight schedule for the day, but given how Instagram friendly the island was, I figured we’d be fighting crowds if we waited too long. I started to get a little worried as we continued to walk around the island, however, as we struggled to find a cafe. This concern lasted just long enough for us to find a cafe that served coffee and some local pastries. We got some canoli too because that’s all Chris wanted. It was a sugar-filled breakfast, for sure.

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The funny thing, of course, was that as soon as we left the cafe and turned the corner, we were greeted by a street full of restaurants, cafes, and pastry shops. As usual, my concern for lack of food was unwarranted. But, I’d rather that than a hangry husband.

We continued to explore the island, stopping to shop for lace and other souvenirs. It didn’t take long for my initial concerns about the crowds to be validated. The longer we were on the island, the more people seemed to appear. The vaparetto we grabbed as we were leaving the island was especially full of a large crowd of people disembarking. The island is beautiful, so you can’t blame them, but I was also increasingly glad I had everyone leave early.

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Our next stop was to the famous glass island of Murano. It’s the home of the famous glass blowers of Venice, as these furnaces were banned on the main island of Venice (I imagine for safety purposes). While only slightly less postcard friendly than Burano, the fun of Murano is watching glass blowers create some phenomenal glass work.

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Unfortunately, the first thing that we saw was an incredibly long queue to get back on the vaparetti. It turned out that this long line of people were waiting to get on a boat to Burano, but we suddenly felt the need to factor in a ridiculously long line into our time in Murano.

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After some shopping and window shopping, we decided it was time for lunch. Following the “eat as much seafood as possible” theme, I got my staple of spaghetti vongole and we all shared some fried fish (mostly calamari).

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We didn’t spend much more time on the island. I wanted to try to get us to a glass museum or to see some of the demonstrations. Given the long line, however, I ended up taking us back to one of the factories we saw right off the boat and waited in line while everyone else watched the demonstrations. This was about the time that we learned that the long line was for the vaparetti to Burano. They pulled all the people who wanted to get back to Venice out of the queue, so it ended up taking a lot less time than we thought to get onto a boat. Better safe than sorry? By the time we got back to Venice, we didn’t have much time. It was just long enough for us to take a long and scenic boat to San Marco Square.

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The final must-do of our stay in Venice was another stop for gelato. After a weekend of seeing gelaterie everywhere, they suddenly all vanished as we were rushing back to where we had to catch the vaparetto back to airport. We found one that I snobbed at because it didn’t look like it would be good. I’m not sure why. My beloved Perche No in Florence doesn’t look particularly great from the outside. In any case, we struggled to find another one until we got back to our stop and found one. It was okay. We probably should have gone to the first one (ha ha). In any case, it was well-timed because we got everything and finished just in time for the boat to get there. We got to the airport and waited for our gates before saying goodbye and heading to our respective locations.

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Going into the weekend, I was concerned that we would not be able to get much done in Venice during our relatively short stay in the city, but we ended up with two full and fun days in the city. From a steps perspective, we probably walked less than we had during our previous weekend in London, but all the stairs from the bridges added up and I was pretty sore for the first few days in the week.

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