Friday, 11 October 2019

Visiting Burano & Venice With Kids (In The Rain!)

During our recent holiday with Eurocamp, we stayed in the town of Punta Sabbioni which is just a 40 minute journey away from Venice and it's surrounding islands.

I've dreamed of visiting Venice and riding down the canals on a gondola ever since I first saw those infamous Cornetto adverts way back in the '80s - and I was so excited to finally make those daydreams a reality! Our Eurocamp site at Marina Di Venezia was the perfect base to explore from.

I'd prepared for our visits weeks in advance by buying a tourists guide to Venice book, so determined was I to get the most out of our visit!

In doing my research and speaking to other people who'd visited Venice, I was aware that the weather can be temperamental and can often cause issues - from the uncomfortably scorching temperatures during the summer and the effect that can have on the odour of the cities canals, to the sudden downpours of the cooler months and the flooding that can often occur.

However, we'd been so fortunate with the weather during our week in Italy that I honestly hadn't thought it would be a problem.

Infact that weather had been SO amazing during our stay and we had been enjoying our time at Marina Di Venezia campsite so very much, that we'd been reluctant to tear ourselves away!

Our original plan had been to have a day out exploring Venice and the islands on the Wednesday, two days after we'd arrived - but we were simply having too much fun! So we decided to put it off until  Friday, our penultimate day in Italy.

I'd checked the weather forecast and was aware that Friday was the only day of our visit where rain was forecast, but given the amazing weather we'd been having all week I couldn't foresee it being anything too dramatic and thought it made sense to use a drizzly day as our day off-site as it meant not sacrificing a sunny day that we'd probably rather spend at the pools.

"We'll just buy an umbrella, it'll only be a couple of light showers if anything"... I said to Jon the evening before as we purchased our public transport tickets.

Oh how wrong a person can be!

In actual fact, it turned out to be a day of constant thunderstorms and incredibly heavy, non-stop rain! We were very ill-prepared for that sort of weather and our little rainbow umbrella didn't even last the first 5 minutes before snapping in the wind!

We were determined not to let the weather stop us seeing the sights though, and so we soldiered on - first taking the public bus from directly outside our campsite to the ferry ports which were just a 10 minute drive away, and then taking the Vaporetto - Venice's public transport Water Bus - on to the islands themselves.

The Vaporetto was very busy, with long queues to board and not nearly enough seating for everybody on the boat itself - there are numerous routes you can take, some going straight to Venice and others calling at the islands of Lido, Murano and Burano on the way.

We decided that we weren't really too fussed about visiting Murano on this trip - as charming as the island famous for it's glass looked, I was aware that it wouldn't be of much interest to the kids and that they might start to flag too early on if we were to make too many stops and so we decided to skip that one.

But Burano - a tiny island famous for it's brightly coloured houses - looked appealing, and so we took the Vaporetto route that stopped there and off we got - ready to explore.

Burano was full of rustic Italian charm, with its winding streets and the canals running through it - capped with picturesque little bridges here and there.

The bright colours of its houses made it look enchanting and magical, even on such a rainy and blustery day - and had it been just Jon & I, then I would happily have ignored the rain and made the most of our time there, exploring the little trinket stores and cafes dotted around.

But instead we had 3 very unhappy little people in tow, one of whom was having a meltdown about the rain  so intense that I can only assume that he thought he might melt if we stayed in it any longer!

Desperate to be able to enjoy just half an hours stroll around the island before heading back to ferry, we decided that perhaps if we could just buy some rain ponchos for the children then they'd be a bit happier. So off we went in search of ponchos!

We noticed some soggy looking tourists crowding around the doorway of a little clothing store, and when they emerged a few moments later shrouded in brightly coloured plastic - we knew we'd found what we were looking for!

So we went inside where the most lovely Italian lady, having apologised profusely for not having any childrens ponchos, did her very best to make some incredibly large ponchos fit 3 tiny people.

15 Euros lighter but with slightly perkier children, we thanked her profusely and off we went - to have a look around this charming little rainbow town.

We managed to meander down a few roads, taking in the sights and musing over whether or not the blue house had deliberately only hung out their blue clothes to dry so as not to spoil the aesthetic - or whether perhaps they'd opted for an entirely blue wardrobe to match their home?!

And we even managed to whip out the camera and snap a few rushed shots - believe me though, if the weather had been on our side I could have spent much longer here taking photos, it really is something of an Instagrammers paradise!

But it wasn't long before those 3 little whiny voices piped up once more, this time to insist that if they didn't have some lunch right this very minute then they would die of starvation right there on the spot.

My plan had been to hold out on food until we reached Venice, but no matter how much I pleaded and bargained - they were insistent. They needed to eat NOW.

And so we found ourselves outside a quaint little restaurant, gathered around a menu - trying to make out what the prices were like.

A waiter came out and ushered us inside, and - to our delight - upstairs to a completely empty dining area!

The prices on the menu were a fair bit higher than we'd been used to paying at the camp site, but we were here and we were hungry - so we ordered some pizza and spaghetti, and took it as a chance to have a sit down and a break from the rain.

The restaurant itself was very quirky - with lots of unusual hand-painted artwork on the walls, and it was lovely not to have any other diners to worry about our kids disturbing!

However, we did get a bit of a shock when the bill arrived to see a hefty 4 euro per person service charge which was applied not just to the adults but to each child as well - adding 20 euro on to our already higher-than-I-felt-appropriate bill. Yikes!

But at least our tummies were full and the whining had stopped...for now!

So we headed back to the ferry, and on to our next destination - Venice!

After a rather wet and choppy ride on the outside seats (the only ones available), The ferry dropped us off.  The one we'd taken didn't go to the centre, but to the outskirts and by the time we arrived - the rain was coming down much heavier and the thunder and lightning were rather intense.

The children were a bit scared and a lot soggy by this point, and as we made our way through the maze of Venetian streets which all looked the same, and up and down what felt like a hundred bridges as we tried to find Piazza San Marco  - their cries intensified.

Desperate to try to appease them a little, we popped in to a sweet shop called Captain Candy - it was quite a site for 3 tired and miserable children, with huge barrels filled with all sorts of unusual gummy treats from pumpkins to bones.

We made sure they only selected a handful of gummy sweets each to keep them happy, but almost died of shock when we reached the till and were charged 40 euro!! EEEK! I can only assume the place is run by actual pirates, because we were well and truly robbed!

On we trudged, trying to find our way to Piazza San Marco - where I kept telling myself that we'd still be able to manage that gondola ride I'd been dreaming of.

The rain was so heavy that we weren't able to stop and take in the sights as we made our way hurriedly through the city, which is such a shame after having dreamed of visiting for so long.

And when we eventually reached Doge's Palace, we only managed a quick photograph as the rain was so intense we were worried it would break the camera (Which, it turns out, it almost did! The camera wouldn't switch on for 2 days after and had to be dried out in a bag of rice, so I dread to think how much worse off it would have been had I used it more!)

Much to my dismay, it soon became apparent that the storm was so intense that none of the gondolas were running.

And so - with my hopes of a gondola ride dashed once and for all - we made our way back to ferry, more than ready for the comfort of our nice dry mobile home.

Our day exploring Venice and the islands was not what I'd call a success, and the children - understandably - didn't think much of it at all! 

But it hasn't put me off and I'd love to return on a less wet day in the future! But perhaps without the children in tow?

Whilst I'm sure it's possible to enjoy Venice & Burano with children in better weather, I don't think there was much in either place that my children would find that interesting and we did find the busy public transport water bus a bit difficult to manage with the three of them.

Infact when boarding the Vaporetto in Venice, the crowd of passengers surged from behind us when the gate to the ferry was opened - pushing one of the children over and badly scraping his knee in the process. 

I think if we were to visit again with the children, I'd avoid the vaporetto and try one of the privately operated tour boats instead - excursions were available to book with these companies from the information desk on site and were priced at around 20 Euro per person.

Have you visited Venice and Burano? Did you get better weather than we did?! I'd love to hear about your experiences!

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