In a month filled with travel, our first stop is Venice, Italy. Most people don’t usually think of the romantic city of Venice as a place to take their kids, especially without the most important piece of the puzzle… your husband! But this week, I did just that. The kids had this week off for their spring break and as Josh and I have already been to this beautiful city on our own, I thought it was a good chance to take the kids since he couldn’t take the time off.
Not to mention, Venice is one of those cities you really can do with kids on your own. It’s small and manageable. You can get lost in all of the little windy streets, but you are never really lost or that far from anything. It’s fun to try to find your way around and there are surprises on every corner. Without cars or traffic lights, it’s a really easy city to feel safe in with small, wandering children. Of course, my kids aren’t so small any more, but I still like the idea that I don’t have to worry about traffic with them!
In the end, a friend of mine joined us with her two girls, which made the adventure all the more fun. At least for me! Having another adult around to talk to is always a bonus in my book! What I didn’t expect was really how relaxing and mellow Venice would be with 4 kids. Yes, relaxing! Ok, maybe more like a chilled out kind of relaxed versus ahhhhhh spa kind of relaxed, but regardless, it was an easygoing, chill kind of few days and I definitely did not anticipate that! I think it’s all in the company you keep!
We arrived later than anticipated our first afternoon because the water bus took FOREVER (well over an hour from the airport to San Marco) and pretty much checked into the hotel and then got dinner with the plan to start off first thing on Tuesday morning. My kids were a bit punchy from the travel which I find ironic since Vanessa’s kids are much younger and were totally fine!
Aidan was not totally on board with going to Venice with my friend and her little kids (much less with girls!) but it was early on the first full morning that they won him over. And how could they not – sweet, adorable and full of smiles – you could not ask for better travel companions!
In the interest of traveling with kids, we skipped going into the Palace or any museums. We took our time meandering about the streets of Venice, letting the day dictate our plans. We were incredibly lucky with beautiful blue skies, reminiscent of Barcelona, on our two full days with rain on both our arrival and departure days. It was so beautiful that the kids spent most of their days in just their tee shirts!
And what it comes down to when traveling with kids, is giving them time to run around and play. Sure, we would have loved to have covered more ground during our two days there, but in the end, we had happy kids who played tag in just about every square we came across and were full of smiles. Isn’t that what travel is supposed to be about? Smiling and having fun?
You can’t help but be pulled into the beauty of Venice as you are walking around. Weaving in and out of small, dark little alleyways and emerging into bright squares full of life and sunshine!
And of course, no trip to Venice would be complete without a gondola ride. In Vanessa’s 3 trips to Venice before this one, she’d yet to take a gondola ride so it was even more essential in my mind that we do it! We found one that was reasonably priced and all 6 of us were able to fit. It was mellow and easy. The only disappointment being that the Rialto Bridge is undergoing renovations and so instead of the view we expected when entering the Grand Canal, we were welcomed by a Diesel sign! Ah well… can’t win them all!
While the outside of the Rialto was undergoing construction, the inside with all the shops was not. We ventured into a few little touristy stores to check out the merchandise, including a lot of glass from Murano. But with a trip planned to Murano for our next day, we just casually glanced around as we walked over to the neighborhood of San Polo on the other side of the bridge.
Working our way back towards San Marco, we took a short break before dinner that night. The boys and I took a long walk along the water (and yet my fitbit still said only 17,000 steps that day – it can’t be right!!!) to watch the sunset.
The next morning was just as lovely as the first with those bright blue skies beckoning us to spend the day outside which is exactly what we planned to do!
Because we hadn’t learned our lesson with the never ending water bus, we decided to take it again to go over to Murano. So by the time we actually made it to Murano, it was pushing lunch time. But we made it just in time to see the last glass blowing demonstration before the lunch break. It was the same one I saw with Josh a few years ago… literally. The guy made the exact same items that he had made when I last visited the factory. However, since the kids hadn’t been there before, they didn’t know this.
And the best part was that they asked kids to volunteer to go up and help with a demonstration. Who should get chosen but my little Liam! He, who never wants to be in front of a crowd, was very excited about the opportunity to help out!
We wandered around Murano for a bit but having been there before, I knew there wasn’t a whole lot to explore beyond the main strip. We had a decent lunch and did some window shopping before hopping on the bus back to Venice. Liam made a purchase of a pegasus that he calls Blackjack (after the character in the Percy Jackson books) which will forever remind him of his trip to Venice and Murano.
Once back, we were on a mission for some gelato! After gelato, continued to work our way back to San Marco for what we figured would be a much needed break.
Instead, we found ourselves in front of a cute shop with some beautiful plates and serving dishes. They were totally unique with pressed fruits, veggies and grasses inside resin plastic (I think it’s a plastic). Thus far, customer service in Venice had been severely lacking. However, the woman at the Marzi store was phenomenal. I’m so glad that I hadn’t made any purchases at any of those other stores where they absolutely looked down their noses at us. Not only did the saleswoman tell us not to worry about the kids in the store, but she brought her dog out for them to play with. And it gets better! I made a purchase of two items and she gave all 4 of the kids blown glass items as a gift. It was incredibly sweet and thoughtful and even though the items I purchased are technically from Florence (with only 3 stores in Italy), I’m really glad that I made the choice to buy from her and not from one of those other salespeople! If you check out the website above, the pictures do not do the product justice!
The second day seemed to fly by faster than the first. After a delicious dinner (Venice is not good for my waistline!), we had our last gelato before calling it a night.
Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end. As the rain, wind and cold took over, we knew it was time to head back to the Netherlands (where we’d experience exactly the same… every day) and to reality. It was such a great time and I never knew that Venice could be so much fun with kids – clearly we need to do more trips with more than just our two in tow.
We had been hoping to hit Burano too, as a friend of mine had suggested it a long time ago and I didn’t make on the last trip. Alas, the kids were done by the time we finished Murano and it just wasn’t meant to be. I guess that means another trip to Venice is in our future 😉
Knuffels en kussen,