Burano May 28th, 2014
The weather forecast was variable all week – coolish, showers in the forecast so we had put off going back to Venice. We were hoping to get to Burano. When we got up it was a grey day but we headed out to the train station anyways and caught a few sprinkles of rain while waiting for the 22 bus.
With the overcast sky we were not able to enjoy the view of the snow capped mountains that we had last week. But the two hour train ride is very enjoyable anyways as we pass rows and rows of bountiful vineyards and spot triangular topped venetian campaniles as we pass by the small Veneto towns.
As we pull into Venice around 10:30, we see a shiny black train on the next track. We go to take a look and sure enough it is the Orient Express. We walk the length of the train emblazoned with gold writing and emblems. We can see into the windows at the dining car, tables set with pink and white linens and silver wine buckets at the ready at each table. The sleeping cars all seem to have wood paneling in the hall ways – a warm oaky color. A cook wearing white linens and a tall white hat is having a quick smoke outside the kitchen car. At the entrance to the track where the train is stopped, there is a red carpet on the platform and a desk with uniformed hostesses waiting to greet the Orient Express Passengers. Just past the desk all lined up and in uniform are what appear to be the chef, and maybe conductors? Stewards?
Venice’s train station has to have one of the most exceptional locations in the world. You walk out the wide doors and you are right on the Grand Canal. You feel right away like you have already been here because you have seen these steps with the young pack backers sitting there and the canal with the boat traffic so many times in pictures and movies.
The skies are still a bit iffy so we agree, let’s just see what the day brings. If it rains, the boat ride to Burano is probably not going to be pleasant. We agree that just wandering around Venice is more than just a fine way to spend the day. So we start out with the intention of making our way to the traghetto stops that we remembered seeing near Piazza San Marco when we here last week. We do stop to have a machiatto and brioche first. Not only are the palazzos in Venice over the top grand, so are the pastries. There are large pastel colored meringues, and all kinds of flaky pastries filled with nuts, and all, I would say, much larger than the pastries in Trieste. We start to follow the signs for Piazza San Marco but we do buy a map just in case.
We meander off wherever a building or bridge draws us there. The signs with the arrows on the corners of buildings pointing to Piazza San Marco and Rialto are plentiful. Really taking any route will eventually get you there though in fact in our wandering we did not actually make it to Piazza San Marco. Around noon we turn to cross a bridge and I see the corner of a sparkly building that I assume means we are at P San Marco. Only to enter the calle and realize, yes this is a beautiful building, but we are not in Piazza San Marco but at the Hospital Civile in the Dorsodure area. There are two magnificent stone sculpted lions at the front.
This calle is nice and quiet. We feel a bit away from the crowds. At the far end by a canal we see some long rectangular stone structures that look like they might work as benches. By now the clouds have moved out and it is turning into a nice sunny day. We pull out the paninis and as we start to eat I realize that this canal must be on one of the main gondola tours. We are right beside a low bridge an the gondoliers have to stoop down to get under. The gondolas are filled with the expected assortment of tourists who are all quite surprised to come out from under the bridge and look straight up at us eating our Panini. It is the usual work day for a gondolier; one goes by, phone to the ear, one is chatting to the gondolier ahead of him, one to the gondolier behind him, one has his lunch ready beside him, one has the oar in one hand and in another seems to be looking at a spray can of some kind, a few are smoking. It is a steady flow of gondolas.
We decide to try and get to Burano and so we look at the map and head for Piazza San Marco. We somehow end up past San Marco but actually close by the traghetto stop which was our actual objective. I ask for two tickets to Burano and we head to the floating waiting area. I had not asked when the next boat left. Some other people, I think they are Australian, mother and father son and daughter in –law, also waiting, seemed to think this was the right boat and that next trip was in about 10 minutes. But 10 minutes later still no boat and so we go back to the ticket counter. Well, the ticket agent thought I had said Murano and of course Burano is more expensive 18Euros and not the 14Euros each we paid but if we went to Murano we could change there and take the boat to Burano and just go ahead and use this ticket. The boat arrives and we get on not really sure of where we are headed. After a few minutes I think to Google Burano and traghetto with my smart phone which by the way is costing me a small fortune. I have a monthly supposedly All-inclusive plan with WIND that is supposed to be costing me 7E a month but I keep getting SMSs telling me that 15E will be deducted this month for All inclusive and I am constantly running down to the WIND store to add more time even though I barely use the phone (supposedly I have 200 phone minutes per month and 200 SMS per month and 2Gs of data for those 7Euros) and because with this rechargeable plan I cannot pay on line – is this enough venting?!?! We can get to Burano from Murano!
Burano is an island in the Northern Venetian Lagoon, 11 Km from Venice. It is known for its brightly colored houses and for the tradition of lace making. The traghetto ride there is amazingly smooth and stable. Even when the water taxis pass us you only slightly feel the wake of one or two waves. The water taxis are long slim wooden craft that are likely many decades old. It does not even feel like you are on a boat ride. The is a loud din inside the boat – the motor sounds and it is packed with people and a group of school boys talking all at the same time.
On both sides of the channel are numbered markers made of three large round logs, placed in a kind of triangle so you feel that your are on a water highway. We see the Venice airport and planes taking off over the lagoon.
We get off at Murano at the Faro or lighthouse stop. Murano is, of course, the island where the Venetian blown glass is made. As you come into the small traghetto landing you can see long low brick buildings with chimneys for the glass melting furnaces. We have 15 minutes before the boat for Burano so we walk around a bit. Far fewer people and far less frenetic than Venice.
In Burano there is a tranquil green space right next to the boat stop. We start walking down the narrow street lined of course with lace shops, glass shops, mask shops. Burano makes me think of a small broach with filigree entwined around multi colored gem stones. It is very quiet in the town itself as we are there in the traditional time when people are having lunch and the shops are closed. You can hear cutlery against plates and people chatting through the open windows. It is now quite warm out and the front doors of all the houses are open but have brightly colored canvass covering the doors. A lot to do with keeping the tourists out I think. We wander through the narrow streets and just soak in the gorgeous day and the vivid hues of the stucco houses. The canals themselves are lined with small motorboats. The canals are the filigree joining the gem colored houses.
We walk for a couple of hours and then sit for a few minutes at a caffe-bar for refreshments – a Hugo. The ride back to Venice is a direct one. We use the map to decide on what route to take and hustle our way back to the train station from the Fondamente Nuova but just miss the train to Trieste. So we enjoy the late afternoon sun as we walk around the streets of S. Croce for the next half hour until the next train.