Venice: The Floating City


“La Dominante,” “Serenissima,” “Queen of the Adriatic,” “City of Water,” “City of Masks,” “City of Bridges,” “The Floating City,” and “City of Canals.”

Doesn’t matter what you call it, the city is majestic! 

Venice, like Rome, had been on my dream travel list since I was five years old. And finally, I got to visit. 

Yes, I visited solo. No law saying only couples can enter this city. However, having a travel buddy to split the cost might have been a good idea. 

This city, even during the off-peak travel season, is expensive. I decided a long weekend was all my budget could spare. 

Veterans Day weekend was selected. Research and booking began. Deciding to fly versus the train was easy, though I broke my rule taking a late flight. My norm is to always try and take the first flight out. For this trip, I flew out on a late evening after work. 


I’d arrange for a water taxi to transport me from the airport to my hotel. From my research, I knew about the Alilaguna Boat Transfer between Venice Marco Polo Airport and Venice. 

However, I chose a water taxi because it felt more reliable and safer as I was arriving after dark. 

This was my first visit to Venice. I didn’t want to spend my first evening in town trying to find my hotel. 

The €180 cost of my water taxi had me rethinking this option, but I stayed the course. Overall, the ride was nice and peaceful.

Added bonus: staff from the hotel met me at the dock to escort me to the hotel. Truly a nice touch since it was very dark when I arrived and did not know my way around the city yet.

The only hiccup came when the taxi driver refused to take credit cards. My communications with the hotel and the taxi company specifically stated credit cards are accepted. However, the driver refused, surprising both me and the hotel staff that met me. 

The hotel remedied the situation and the fee was paid.

Still, had to wonder — “would the driver have scammed me if the hotel staff wasn’t present?”

He even looked annoyed when I told him the price I was quoted.

No doubt about it — he saw me as a mark. He would’ve tried to get more money if the staff wasn’t there to meet me. 

I passed on any future private water taxis and stuck with public transport.


A Paradise on the Water! 

This is the description on the hotel’s website. For the most part, it is true. The Riva Del Vin Boutique Hotel was my paradise on water for my weekender. 

Prices for this small paradise weren’t cheap either. The four-night stay put a $720.31 dent in my trip budget. Then again, my plane ticket was only $65 roundtrip, luggage included, so I saved a bit.

Plus, room came with an awesome view of Canal Grande. 

I enjoyed my stay, despite the price. Customer service was outstanding and the staff did their best to ensure I had a lovely time in Venice.

The room was not big, but was large enough for me. The bathroom was nice but very dark. I suggested moving the light from the corner to possibly overhead so every corner of the bathroom has light. A bit unsettling when you reach for the soap bottle and end up washing yourself with shampoo. 

Wi-Fi was sucky, but not completely useless. I chalked this up to my room’s location as I had great Wi-Fi in other parts of the hotel. 

Breakfast was standard but a good way to get the day started. I liked that they staggered the times so it was not crowded in the small breakfast area. I could enjoy my meal without bumping into people.

Also, chose an early breakfast time so I could watch the sun rise over the Canal Grande. 

What a beautiful way to begin the morning. 


The Ponte Di Rialto, or Rialto Bridge, is one of Venice’s main landmarks. It is the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal, and connects the districts of San Marco and San Polo.

Best advice if you want good photos – wake up early to get good photos or stay up late to get photos at night! Otherwise, only use it to get across – as a bridge should be used.

By 9 a.m., the bridge is overcrowded. Tourists love to stop wherever and snap photos. Fighting crowds to get a decent photo wasn’t how I wanted to spend my day. I snapped a few selfies, and continued on toward …


Piazza San Marco, St Mark’s Square. The city’s main public square, featuring famous buildings such as St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace.

I walked the square mesmerized. My eyes quickly caught sight of Canpanièl de San Marco, the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica. Of course, that’s not hard to do when the tower is the tallest structure in Venice. 

The Basilica di San Marco was the next stop. However, I messed up by not pre-booking my ticket. The entrance line was at least an hour-long. Standing in entrance lines is a waste of time when you’re only in Venice for a weekend.

I snapped a few photos, and moved onto … 


Originally a fortified castle founded between the tenth and eleventh centuries, the Doge’s Palace was once the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice.

Pre-order my tickets before arriving in Venice directly from the museum’s official site. Avoid the third party sites to avoid scams. Tickets are reasonably priced when purchased some time in advance. Expect to pay a premium and queue for at least 45-minutes if trying to purchase the day of your visit.  

Doge’s Palace is nice to walk through without a tour guide. Wish there was more signage describing some historical aspects of the palace. All in all, an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

Depending on the entrance you access, you’ll either see Scala dei Giganti, aka the Giants’ Staircase, or the Courtyard of the Doge’s Palace. I entered via the Courtyard entrance. What a sight! 

Wait a second? Is that who I think it is? Yes it is. Well Golly!

It’s Waldo! I found Waldo at the Doge’s Palace. Wow!

Anyway, back to my exploration. 

The Doge’s apartments were decorated beautifully, but they reminded me too much like the apartments at Hampton Court Palace. 

The armory contains a vast collection of armaments and weapons from different historical periods. The collection of arms contains over 2000 exhibits. These include examples of 15th and 16th century suits of armor, swords, halberds, quivers and crossbows. 

Nothing truly special for me in this room, so I continued exploring.

The Chamber of the Great Council was my second favorite part of the palace. The Chamber, at 53 meters long and 25 meters wide, is the largest and most majestic chamber in the Doge’s Palace. It is also one of the largest rooms in Europe. 


The exploration of the palace’s prisons was the highlight of the tour. Piombi is a former prison in the Doge’s Palace in Venice. Its position directly under the roof of the palace accounts for its name.

One of the historic signage detailed how in winter, these lead slabs didn’t stop the cold air from entering, and acted as a conductor in the summer heat, which imposed harsher conditions on the inmates.

Walking through the cells made me very uncomfortable. Then again, prisons are designed to make you never want to visit again. This palace’s prisons had no air and no direct light. The  only light was from the windows of the corridor. 

The Ponte dei Sospiri, or Bridge of Sighs, was intended to link the Doge’s Palace to the structure designed to house the New Prisons. 

The name of the bridge is said to refer to the sighs of prisoners who, passing from the courtroom to the cell in which they would serve their sentence, took a last look at freedom as they glimpsed the lagoon and San Giorgio through the small windows.

The New Prisons were intended to improve the conditions for prisoners with larger and more light-filled and airy cells.

Yeah, I don’t think this goal was achieved. 

My exploration of the palace ended with a nice selfie in front of the Giants’ Staircase. 

A quick bite to eat was needed before visiting the National Archeological Museum and Museo Correr.

I selected Caffè Florian for lunch. However, there are numerous restaurants in St. Mark’s Square to select.

My experience at Caffè Florian told me I should have chosen another restaurant. The cafe is one of the oldest coffee houses in continuous operation in Italy, and one of the oldest in the world. This is probably why I chose it over other eateries.

Serves me right.

Historic it may be, but it is also pretentious and overpriced. I mean €12.50 for a cup of tea and €15 for a shrimp sandwich? 

Treating myself on vacation is something I love doing, but not to the point of paying that much for a cup of tea and a soggy sandwich. The fact that customer service was terrible also makes this a bad choice. The staff were very rude and snooty. 

My advice, take a photo, it’ll be cheaper. 

Exploring the National Archeological Museum was a delightful way to walk off that overpriced lunch. 

Entrance to the museum was included with my Doge’s Palace ticket purchase. The museum exhibits many interesting historic artifacts including original Greek, bronze, ceramic, jewels and coins. 

Next, I headed over to the Museo Correr. Entrance was also included with the Doge’s Palace ticket. This is a nice museum and not a bad way to spend an hour or two.

The Pisani Library in San Vida was my favorite part.

I would live in this library if the Venetian government allowed it. Only wished I could actually read the books. This room is lined with monumental bookcases in walnut that come from the Pisani Family palace at San Vidal, hence the name. The bookcases hold printed works dating from the early 16th century to the end of the 18th, together with the museum’s large collection of ducal orders and regulations. 


With my museum visits done, I simply strolled leisurely around the city. A gondola ride was in the plans, but then I saw the prices:

Yikes! €80 for 30 minutes? Nah, it ain’t that romantic. A Photo Safari would suffice.


Venice has many wonderful restaurants for dining. 

Unfortunately, I found one of the worst ones — Osteria da Luca. AVOID THIS PLACE!!

The place was dirty, nasty and unhygienic. Remember, COVID was still running rapid.

I was so uncomfortable sitting in the restaurant that I couldn’t order any food. Food was definitely prepackaged and not fresh or homemade. I know this because I saw one of the cooks actually grab a bag of frozen calamari.

When the army of ants marched by carrying their nightly hull, I jetted out of there. 

That’s the last time I use Yelp for recommendations.

Ristorante San Silvestro — The best meal I had during my Venice trip. Nice and quiet place. Food tasted fresh and was tasty. Service was decent. Wait staff didn’t hover, but they were ready to serve when needed. Price wasn’t cheap, but the food quality was worth it.

This place was so much better than those Grand Canal restaurants with their microwaved food and expensive prices. Will visit Ristorante San Silvestro again on my next trip to Venice.

Hard Rock Cafe – Visited HRC Venice on my last night in town. Always lovely and food is standard fare, but satisfying. The Apple Cobble was delicious and put a warm feeling in the tummy on a cool night. Customer service was fabulous. 

My Venetian adventure included a day trip to Murano, Burano and Torcello, but more on those in the next blog entry. 

Venice is truly a romantic city. I fell in love with the architecture, food and the fabulous views. I will visit again — once my budget is able to support the city’s luxuries. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s