Thursday, December 19, 2013

Venice (Overnight Call) Part 2 - Getting off ship and into Venice, Vaporetta ride, St Mark's Square & Doge Palace


Trivia - Did you know, the Venetian Republic lasted a millenium up till 1789?  (1,000 years!) Amazing history.   It helped me put things into perspective.  My country, Singapore, will celebrate our 50th year of Independence in 2015.

We did not plan any tours in Venice.  Instead, we were going to do it on our own, via walking and taking public transport (i.e. river bus).  But first, we have to find our way from the port to Venice.

The ship was offering a river-taxi ride from the port to St Marco.  I think the cost was 20 Euros, unlimited rides.  We considered this but decided against it because the boat would only be taking us from port to St Marco, that's all.  We would still need to purchase tickets for the Vaporetta and we knew that there were 36 hour tickets for 25 Euros thereabouts.

So now, we proceeded to get off the ship, which was easy.

View of the ship.  We were already out of the port, on the way to the People Mover.

We then made our way to the People Mover station.  Follow the signs!

Almost there.  You can see the sign in English - People Mover.  It is an easy walk, however, it is unsheltered.

Yes, the port was the other way.  But we just got off the ship.  I figured that Ingresso means Entrance, since Porto must mean port.

Here we are at the station which was unmanned. It took only about 5 minutes to walk here.  Not far at all. However, I later realised that our ship was docked closest to the port gates (since we were the only ship in port that morning).  I am not sure how much further you would have to walk otherwise.

The cost was 1Euro for each ride.

This was the ticket machine.  We used Euro coins and notes to pay for the tickets.  It looked like it would accept credit cards, but we didn't try.

Single Trip - 1 Euro.  There were no economies of scale if you bought 10.  Obviously the sign was catered to the tourists.  In fact, this People Mover system was built for tourists.

Waiting for the People Mover.  I think we were all from the Silhouette.  We didn't have to wait long for the train.

It was driverless.

Picture of the ship from the People Mover.  We had just left the station.

Arriving at Piazzale Roma.  It was a very short ride, about 3 minutes.  However, walking here from the cruise ship would take 20 minutes because there was no direct path.  You had to go a big round across some bridge.  I recommend to just take the People Mover and save precious time & energy.  There is a lot of walking to do in Venice.

The station was right by Piazzale Roma.  They were doing some renovation works when we visited.  Still, we found our way very easily to this ticketing station, which was manned.  The counter staff could speak decent English, therefore buying the tickets was a breeze.

We were here to buy our 36 hour Vaporetta tickets.  Unlimited rides for 36 hours.  Kids above 6 had to pay full fare.  Senior discounts only available to EU Nationals.

A view of a bridge, from the ticket counter.  This bridge looked very new and they were doing renovations to improve the Vaporetta stops here.   I can't remember the completion date.

Here are the various lines.  We were looking for Line 1.  Note that they had different boarding piers. It was 0843hrs.

After we bought the tickets, we followed signs, heading to the appropriate pier.  As mentioned earlier, the pontoons immediately outside the ticket counters were undergoing renovations.  Passed these small boats along the way.  There is also a fairly large local supermarket called Co-op, along this walk.  We bought our bottled water from Co-op on the way back.  Also, the Co-op chocolate wafers were cheap and tasted fantastic!  (They made perfect snacks for my kids and adults too!)

Hey, don't fall off!

The signs are in Italian and English, not difficult to figure out.  Note the ticket validation machines (they look like EZ Link tap-in/tap-outs) beside the blue ticket machine.  You HAVE to validate your ticket before getting on the pontoon, otherwise you face a hefty fine.

That is an example of a river bus stop.  It was actually a floating pontoon.

We walk on, looking for the correct stop.  In Venice, you don't own cars, you own boats.

It was 8:48am, 25th Nov 2013.   We found our stop and boarding River Bus Number 1.  As Piazzale Roma was a terminus stop for Line Number 1, the river bus stayed a big longer at this pontoon, I think about 5 minutes.  I assume they have a schedule to follow.

A view from inside. It was not small.  Three seats on either side with a lot of standing room.  It wasn't crowded when we were there, but I think it is very crowded during summer.

As we sailed down the Grand Canal, the sun came out.  Beautiful views.  I was standing at the back of the River Bus.

In Venice, you need to own a boat to get around, not a car.

We were going under Rialto Bridge. Our destination was St Marco, so there was still some way to go.

A very famous bridge.  We would cross it on foot later.

The Gondolas, 'parked'.  Oh, it should be moored.

Another boat speeds past.

We are getting further away from the Rialto bridge now, as the white boat heads towards it.  In this picture, you can see the yellow pontoon on the right side.  That was the stop for Rialto.

I was facing aft, hence the white boat was getting further away.  You can clearly see the stop for Rialto on the right hand side now.

That's a Gondola (human powered), with no passengers!!  This being off-season, many Gondolas were parked away.

The Grand Canal can get quite congested.  Where are the traffic cops?  Lolz.

Polizia!  Police boat.  Neat.  Maybe they double up as traffic cops as well.

We head onwards towards S. Marco.  Note that I am standing behind the boat, facing aft.

Many Gondolas moored on the left side, probably moored for the winter.

As this was winter, and it was rather cold, there were very few tourists, hence the gondolas had little business.

Arriving at S.Silvestro station.

I am looking forward now.

Looking aft again, you can see Rialto in the distance.

Another station.

Yes, we are approaching our destination.  The canal is opening up.

That is a river taxi.  You could hire one to bring you around, not sure how much it costs.  There were quite a number of people on this taxi.  Maybe it was part of some organized tour.

Yet another river taxi, also full of passengers.

See you later!

A lot more space here for the boats to move around.

Finally, we are here at S.Marco.  The ride from Piazzale Roma to S.Marco took about 45 minutes.

We quickly got off and started to walk towards St Mark's square.  Along the way, you see this small canals.  The River Buses don't go into here.  Gondolas do.

Even though off-season, the street shops have been set up.   In summer, I am told there is hardly any space to walk here.  So let's treasure the space we have today!

What advertisement was that? Anyway, we are close to the Doge Palace.  This is the famous Venice waterfront.

So many tables and chairs, Al Fresco.

It was rather cold and windy.  Nobody would be sitting out in the cold.

That's the Doge Palace.  What's a Doge?  Good question.  Click here (to Wiki) for a write-up.

Doge Palace on the right and this leads to St Mark's square.

The Doge Palace of Venice.  Established 1340.

The Bell tower.

Many Gondolas moored for the winter.  I don't think they get much business now.  Too cold!

The outside of the Palace.

Now you can see, even in late November, Venice gets a good crowd.  I can't imagine the situation in summer!  The streets must be overflowing with people.  Beware!

We paid the entrance fees and into the Palace we went.  Given the age of this building, I reckon there has been a lot of upgrading and maintenance work done over the centuries, to keep it standing.

Some of the work being detailed.

Apparently, these were original columns from the 14th Century.

The Courtyard.

Looks like a mish-mash of older and newer buildings.

Now, we head inside the Palace.  You can't bring your backpacks.  They provided a place to store your backpacks, complimentary.  The ceilings were gorgeous.

Very intricate ceilings.

There were very beautiful and grand halls contained within the Palace.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any photos.  I personally think it is worth a visit, as the rooms and halls were rather spectacular, even after having been to the Sistine Chapel and the Duomo in Florence.  I enjoyed the Doge Palace and I would recommend a visit.

This was a side-trip to the jails.  A bit scary.  I am sure, in the past, many have died here.

Alright, we exit the Palace and here we are on St Mark's square again.

Continued in my next post. 
Venice Part 3 - St Mark's Square, Basilica, Murano & back to Ship

Back to Celebrity Silhouette Nov 2013 Cruise Landing Page


  1. why kept emphasize that summer isn't good? I think winter is more uncomfortable having to wear thick layers with dry skin.

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