Why 5 hours? Because it’s enough to see the many bridges, canals and squares without the kids getting bored. Because it’s enough to enjoy the city without the crowds starting to annoy us. Because that was all we had, since we decided to visit Venice with kids at ten that morning and arrived at one in the afternoon. But it sounded like a good idea. And here’s why it was.
Let’s go to Venice with kids
We woke up on a Saturday morning with no preconceived plans. Except me. I always have them. Just in case. But hubbs and the kids were at that point oblivious to them.
For awhile nothing was out of the ordinary. The kids watched cartoons on the telly while I cleared the mess in the living room. Typical weekend morning, which in our family always includes the question: “Where are we going? What are we doing?”
With clouds in Ljubljana, the goal was simple: let’s go anywhere sunny. No such luck. Clouds all around.
Nature was out of the question – nothing is green – aka nothing will look good on photos – wasted opportunity.
That’s when I dropped the bomb, gently: “How about Venice?”
Hubbs looked at me. Incredulously.
Then other options were weighed.
“How about Venice. Venice with kids. They’ve never been,” I try again and finally at ten in the morning we pack a few toys, books to read, stop for food and head to Venice as if we were headed to Ljubljana’s city center. Nothing out of the ordinary.
The moral of the story. Don’t complicate. Screw plans. Just go.
Parking in Venice
This is very it gets a bit tricky.
I stared reading about parking in Venice on our drive to the city. Since it’s a city literally on water there are no cars there. Meaning you have to park either before you cross the long bridge and get to the beginning of the island or immediately after you cross it.
We were lucky the tourist season is not yet in full swing, so all options were available. That actually made it harder to decide.
You are actually choosing between: more money more convenience, less money more trouble. With kids I was leaning heavily towards more money.
This is the site that helped us reach a decision: http://www.reidsitaly.com/destinations/veneto/venice/planning/to_by_car.html.
Parking in Mestre – San Guliano parking would mean going on a bus (which are now pricey) and then catching a vaporetto – public transport to the center.
Parking in Tronchetto means only catching the first vaporetto to Piazza San Marco. Finally that’s what we picked. Parking cost us 21 Euros for five hours. That’s the price of parking from the fifth hour to 24 hours.
Getting to the city center
Since we knew there’d be a lot of walking, we decided to go with a boat in one direction and then walk back as a part of sightseeing.
The kids also took their scooters so we were able to move faster. But that was only possible since there were no crowds.
We boarded the vaporetto – that’s how they call the local transport in Venice – bus can’t drive, so this is your water bus.
You buy a ticket, which costs 7,5 Euros. Kids younger than 6 are free. And the ticket is valid for 75 minutes. Enough to get you to the city center.
Even though the price is steep, it’s well worth it. The kids and both of us loved the views and it saved us a lot of walking.
Making our way back
We explored the main square – Piazza San Marco with the Basilica. But we didn’t linger too long.
Despite knowing that what we faced can’t be described as crowds – it was still too busy for us. We headed into small alleyways and we searched for an unperturbed view of Venice. Our piece. So, that we could feel it. The history, the stories, the greatness it once represented. It’s kind of sad to see it now, reduced to a tourist hub, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants and not much else. But we barely scratched the surface. You probably need time to get to know the real Venice.
We didn’t have enough. We strolled looking and commenting on the things we noticed. Like the gondolas. Did you know it costs 100 Euros to ride in one?
We passed too many restaurants offering delicious looking food – some more than others. Finally we succumbed. Walking from the Sant Marco Square to Piazza Roma, just before reaching the famous Rialto bridge, if you turn right into a small alley there is this tiny joint selling really delicious slices of pizza. We had to stop for a bite. Then it was easier to proceed.
Coffee and toilets
As we went further away from the center, there were less or no public toilets. And of course at that particular moment one of our daughters desperately needed one. Though without a doubt I was the desperate one. Frantically looking and searching, but there was nothing we could use except going into a restaurant.
And that’s when it hit me – this is the perfect chance for me to have a cup of Italian coffee and we get to solve our other problem. On one small square we sat down ordered two cappuccinos and used their facilities. It was all worth it.
Do you want to know how much we paid for coffee? A really good cup? 1,5 Euro. But we forgot about Italians also charging a fee for service at the table. That was an extra 1,5. Still, it was worth it, since hubby paid for public toilets near the Piazza San Marco 1,5 Euro. Win win for everyone. Especially me.
The playground and a goodbye
Just when the mood was about to turn sour, since the youngest was getting tired, we spotted a playground in a local park opposite the train station on Piazza Roma. Perfect for us to take a break and for the kids to play and forget about sightseeing. Yes, five hours of city life, no matter how cool the city, is enough.
Then it was only a short walk, for them ride mostly down hill – what fun! to the parking lot and a ride home.
We came back at nine thirty with kids peacefully sleeping in the back.
Want more adventures? How about a trip to Gent in Belgium?