Early in September, a hot flight deal appeared with Wizz Air and I managed to bag a return flight from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo for just £70.56 for both of us. As the lead up to our departure on 17th November, I kept going back and forth checking the weather with YR and we were expecting rain then, at the last minute, it all turned to beautiful sunshine.
On Thursday 16th November, we both left school at 5pm to drive to Gatwick airport, which is a mere 84 miles and 1h30 drive from Ramsgate. One of us arrived at the Travelodge Gatwick Airport Central (£42.99) very grumpy indeed, but were swiftly in bed (using our foam bed, which then subsequently stayed in the car). Car parking at the Travelodge is really straightforward as you can park in the hotel car park for up to 5 days, which is £9 for 24h off season (1st October - 30th March) and £14 for 24h in high season (1st April - 30th September). You can pre-book with Horizon Parking using the Horizon Spaces app. Our parking cost £42.15 for 68 hours. On our travel day our flight was at 9am, so we were up at 5am and on the bus for 6am, arriving into the airport for 6.15am via the Hotel Hoppa shuttle bus (£8 for one adult return, Tiger was free but the child return is supposed to be £4.50). We were off!
The first and very exciting part of this trip was it was our first with hand luggage only which for Wizz Air meant 40 x 30 x 20cm so we had a comically tiny pull along trolley from Amazon which cost £39.99 for one of us, and my small Deuter backpack for the second person, in effect I carried one and pulled the other. Easy! We were straight through the assistance / family security with Tiger absolutely relishing getting patted down and no more worries about Stripey (tiger teddy) going through the x-ray on his own! By 7.30am we were installed in the Flying Horse Wetherspoons (packed!) and had beans on toast (£5.85) and a bacon butty (£6.75) together with drinks bought in Boots.
I was absolutely determined to spend no more than I had to on the flight so didn't pay for seats and checked in 24h in advance. We were however seated together (39B and 39C) in one aisle and one window seat in the back row! Luckily we ended up with the whole row and a window view. A great flight and the crew won a gold star by drawing hearts on my coffee cup!
We landed at 12.15 and by 1pm we were waiting for our very first 'Vaporetto' aka water bus (blue line) from the airport. There were signs all the way out for water transport which was amazing! I got confused by the ticket system a little but I did buy a Venezia Unica City Pass ticket from a machine in the airport for 2 days of travel in Venice for 35 euros (£30.68). We had walked out of the airport and into a long queue for the blue line boat but then had to buy another ticket for £7 for the Alilaguna boat for the aiport leg! I have subsequently found this amazing website explaining it all.
With hindsight I think I would have splashed out on a motoscafo water cab for £30 if I were traveling directly to my hotel, and to avoid all the queuing for over an hour (we also had to ditch the queue once to rush to the loo!). The ATVO bus also looks amazing, takes a mere 20 minutes which only costs 10 euro and takes you directly to Piazzale Roma from which you can jump on a water bus to complete your journey if you need. The final point is that any child aged under 6 is free which makes a huge difference.
We had however planned to go straight to Murano which was the first stop on the blue line of the water taxi. We eventually got on the 13.50 boat, arriving in Murano Coronna after 30 minutes, then another water taxi around to Murano da Mula, arriving just before 3pm.
As we had an hour before our Murano glass factory experience at 4pm so we had a quick stop for pizza, smoothies and ice cream and a wee (!) at Bar Gelateria Al Ponte for 18 euros (£15.78) which was just perfect. A really quaint cafe full of locals!
Our next stop was our experience at Roberto Beltrami's Wave Murano Glass. We had booked via Airbnb experiences and paid £15.70 per adult, £11.34 per child (total £27.04), however it might be cheaper to go directly as their website states adults are 25 euro but children under 8 year old are free. Tiger would also have been too young but they were offering a 20 minute glass blowing experience for 65 euros where you pick up your glass creation the next day. As it was, we loved the whole experience and visited the batch room learning about the sand and other chemicals which are mixed to make glass, then to the hot shop with its 1400°C furnaces and where we watched one of the Master Glassmakers make an incredible glass bird, to the cold shop where we saw the glass carved, drilled, cut, flattened and polished. Wonderful!
We then had a wonderful adventure getting completely lost in Venice when all we had to do was get to the most central location to our Airbnb in San Marco! The moral of this story being that you should not use Google maps too much in Venice because there are so many roads of the same name. Still, we arrived at Ca'Marcella at 8pm and collapsed into a glorious bed munching on supermarket goodies. We also enjoyed discussing what a bidet was used for in the morning. A wonderful room for £80.31.
The next morning, bright and early for 9am (which is also the very best time to take photos in Venice), we met our lovely photographer, Layanne, who did an absolutely incredible job taking photos of us. We booked Layanne through Airbnb Experiences and the private shoot was £74.16 for one adult and one child.
We hope you enjoy Layanne's photos of us below!
After our photoshoot, we headed back to the hotel and chilled out before we went for a walk through Venice heading to our rowing experience at Fondamente Nove.
At 3pm we had a one and a half hour's Airbnb Experience with Damiano called 'Learn to row like a Venetian'. We paid a total of £104.69 and it was absolutely amazing and so much better than shelling out 80 euros for 30 minutes in a gondola. We met Damiano at his 'squero' (gondola / boat shop) where they restore and make Venetian boats, he then took us out on his boat and we both rowed around the waterways. Tiger was so confident and didn't want me to help at all!
After we bade Damiano farewell we headed back to Fontamente Nova water bus station for the Vaporetto to Piazzale Roma and the airport bus (bus number 5) getting off at the Orlanda Piovega stop for our hotel, Venicegreen Agriresort. We booked via booking.com and paid £97.02. The hotel gets rave reviews and even has farm animals which we rushed out to say goodnight to before we went to bed ourselves!
The next morning we took an airport taxi for 20 euros at 5.15am and our flight headed back to London at 7am meaning that we landed at 9am and were back to the car at 9.45am! Thank you Italy. We will be back soon!