From Ortisei, we made our way back to Venice Airport via the scenic Passo Gardena (Gardena Pass) again, returned our rental car, and took the Venice Link boat shuttle to Venice (round trip for both of us was €140). We arrived early afternoon and stayed two nights at the newly opened hotel – Ca’di Dio booked with 46,000 Hyatt points total. It was a great point redemption as the cash rate was over €600 per night.
It was only a few steps from where we were dropped off, I am surprised the hotel doesn’t have any logo or name sign at the front but thanks to Google Maps to confirm the location. The check-in was a little bit slow and we sat on a sofa in the beautiful hotel lobby to check-in with our paperwork. The hotel was designed by a renowned designer but I found things to be very awkwardly odd. For example, the front desk is tucked in on the side of the lobby with only a small desk to be shared with at least 2 staff there. It is the size of a laptop desk; the smallest desk I saw in a hotel!
The lady said they upgraded us to a suite so we need to wait for the room to be ready. She brought us to the room and it doesn’t look like a suite at all, just a normal room! The decor in the room is modern chic I would say.
I do like that the space is nicely utilized: the minibar area next next to the closet.
Free minibar, nice to have a cold soda when it was over 90 degrees out!
The shower area looked nice but not practical at all! Water leaked and splashed out with the half-glass door design! Did the designer ever tried it out before?
The toiletries bottle were bigger than normal but I don’t find those luxurious looking for a 5* hotel in Venice that charges at this rate!
Speaking of utilizing the space, I like the most is the closet….
Slide through those doors is a walk-in closet, that was a surprise!
Welcome treats were tasty:
It was already 2 PM so we decided to have a quick lunch nearby, we picked Ristorante Carpaccio right across the bridge from the hotel as it has good reviews and a seafood restaurant.
I ordered a seafood pasta dish (no surprise lol), this type of pasta is thick but the sauce was pretty good.
Jason ordered spaghetti with clams, it was good too.
The bill for two pasta dishes and a bottle of water? €54 plus €10 cover charge! Yikes, yes, this is Venice price! After the quick lunch, we took a leisure walk around Venice – this was our 3rd time in Venice (last visit was in 2013 wow 9 years ago!). Walking over bridges and crossing the canals bought back lots of memories! Venice is still charming despite the crowds!
Gondola watching while enjoying the delicious gelato from Suso; I wish they have a coconut flavor.
We also checked out the Louis Vuitton store in Venice, it wasn’t as crazy as other big cities where you have to wait in line outside the store, they let you put your name on the waiting list while browsing in the store. We purchased more bags for our relatives. There were definitely a lot more American customers than 9 years ago which were mostly Chinese tourists.
For dinner, I had a reservation at Restaurant la Piazza, a highly-rated seafood restaurant on Trip Advisor. We were seated immediately and were the first few customers there but then it quickly filled up. We ordered the grilled squid, they were delicious.
Then, it went downhill….we waited over half an hour for our main course to a point that we had to flag down a waiter to check on them. He said coming…another 15 minutes, I think they forgot! Finally, our pasta arrived. Jason ordered shrimp spaghetti and the quality was poor! Look at how small those 5 shrimps were, definitely not the king prawns. It was almost tasteless…
My seafood spaghetti wasn’t much better with the same shrimp, overcooked mussels, and a scampi!
I don’t get how they can get such a high rating and thousands of reviews…it’s definitely a tourist trap for €82.50!
The next morning, we had breakfast in the hotel which is included and it was disappointing for a 5* hotel. The typical cold cuts and fruits:
Yogurt and cereal:
and only a few hot items, the usual scramble eggs, sausages, bacons…nothing special!
Outdoor sitting in the courtyard. The most interesting was watching a guy carrying an eagle walk up those stairs and “guard” the courtyard so no pigeons will fly over to disturb our breakfast! That was something we never saw or heard of!
After breakfast, we took the 8:15 AM line 14 water bus from San Marco – San Zaccaria A station to one of my favorite islands in the world and the most colorful one – Burano! This line goes all the way to Burano without the need to change. In an hour or so, we arrived, look at those colorful houses!!!
As soon as we got off the boat, we walked straight to the postcard-perfect location of those colorful houses before more tourists arrived and got our shots!!! Even though it was my 2nd time visiting Burano, it was still magical!
Doesn’t this look like out of a story book?
Although the weather wasn’t the best, we didn’t get blue sky and puffy white clouds, but Burano still looked colorful!
We quickly took pictures, it was like a race before day trippers reached here.
In 5-10 minutes, small groups of people came in but with some wait, they didn’t affect our photos.
Of all the colorful houses along this canal, this is the most beautiful one!
It really stands out from the rest, isn’t it?
Arrived early morning to avoid the crowds and got reflection shots but the boats were all parked on the canal. Later on the day, the canal gets traffic, and will be no more reflection so that’s the trade-off.
There was a brief moment of blue sky and sunshine on the back of the bridge where we were taking photos so we walked to the opposite side and took photos to catch the blue sky. It looked postcard-perfect from this side too!
After the most picturesque street, we ventured into the little streets where there were no other tourists! Each house is carefully decorated with its own color theme. A yellow house:
No two houses are alike!
We remembered this bright pink house with the bench, it’s still looking the same as 9 years ago!
Then, we got out to another busy square filled with restaurants and shops.
We went into the side streets on that side of the island to take more cute house photos. The other bright pink house was with brown windows, this one was with blue windows. I like the bright pink and blue combo better!
A street underneath a house!
The busy street started to fill up with tourists.
A bright orange-red house:
While other houses are colorful, this one has to be the most artistic!
Back out to the big street again and waited for our turn to photograph the bridge.
Into another side street:
and back out again…
We lost track of time so by the time we made it back to the water bus station, we just missed the water bus! Oh well, the next one is in one hour so gave us an extra hour of exploring 😉
This one has the most color combinations!
Another bigger street behind the busy square, the houses along this canal were less maintained in terms of exterior painting.
We got back to Venice just past noon so we walked straight to lunch at Trattoria al Gazzettino where we saw review photos of spider crab. I noticed spider crab on many seafood restaurant menus in Venice but not all restaurants actually have it so we are trying our luck here.
Their mixed seafood grill was so yummy and good quality and quantity!
Yes, they have the spider crab spaghetti! Jason ordered that and wow it tasted very good – that crab aroma made me hungry! I wondered how much spider crab meat they put in but definitely not the whole crab, unlike the one we had in Menton, France.
I was going to get the same thing but the waiter said he highly recommended the shrimp and squash spaghetti, it’s a specialty in Venice. It is good but too squash taste for my liking, if you don’t like squash, don’t order this! I regretted 🙁
Free dessert from the house even though not so good!
Our lunch cost €69 much better than Restaurant la Piazza!
After lunch, we headed to Scala Contarini del Bovolo, thanks to Instagram and Google Maps, we found this beautiful staircase. The admission was €8 and maybe that was why a lot of people just stayed outside and took a snap.
The beautiful spiral staircase:
Despite the popularity on Instagram, it wasn’t crowded at all! There was a family there and after they left, we were the only ones there.
You can see the tower of St Mark’s Campanile from here.
The view was great with no crowds and no need to climb hundreds of steps 😀
It was well worth the €8 each! Next, we walked to I Tre Mercanti for its famous tiramisu which I am a huge fan of! It did not disappoint! It has other flavors too like pistachio, another must-try!
People hanging out at the canal:
Next photo stop: Libreria Acqua Alta Di Frizzo Luigi, another Instagram-made famous spot! Unlike other Instagram famous book shops, it encourages visitors with “free entrance” on its sign. Wow look at all those books!
Once you entered the bookstore, there’s an actual gondola boat filled with books, how cool is that? Then, walk toward the back to this little courtyard filled with books! Yes, you are allowed to climb the books for a “wonderful view” of the canal behind the wall!
After the bookstore, we were done with those two places I had in my plan to visit that we had never been to. Taking the other side exit of the bookstore, we landed on this spot unexpectedly! I have seen pictures of this building with two connected bridges and couldn’t find the exact location but here it is! Life is sometimes like that, it’ll appear when you are not purposely looking for it 😉
Afterward, we took the back roads back to the hotel…a good 20 minutes walk and stops along the way for photos of course.
Oh wow look at how narrow this house is!
For dinner, I made a reservation at Osteria alle Testiere, this tiny restaurant has less than 10 tables I would say, and fully booked every day so a reservation is required! It was a birthday dinner for Jason, his birthday was the next day that we flew back home.
The mixed seafood combo appetizer did not disappoint! The ingredients were high quality, fresh, and well-cooked.
Their razor clams were soooo good, I love the taste/sauce of it!!!
Jason was happy 😀
Finally, my favorite and been craving and looking for… Mediterranean shrimps! Each bite was so shrimp taste!!!
Another shrimp cooked with mango sauce, the taste reminded me of Thai food, those were delicious and different too!
The clam spaghetti was very flavorful.
The dinner at Osteria alle Testiere was worth the splurge – €140!
We had a full morning before our flight at 3 PM, our boat shuttle pick-up was at 11 AM. We headed out early and hardly anyone at San Marco Square.
All 3 times we were in Venice, Basilica di San Marco is under repair with scaffolds!
We walked to Rialto Bridge as it’s the least crowded to have good photos in the early morning. The Grand Canal is always busy regardless the time of the day.
We walked across the bridge and to the back side street to get to this spot:
We asked the person waiting for this spot to help us take a photo with Jason’s phone.
The other side of the bridge:
The sun was lighting up the buildings along the Grand Canal.
Corte De L Albero, where we had our wedding/honeymoon photos here and since then, we always come back to the same spot each time we visit! The 2nd time we found it by luck. This time, we found it by looking at hints from our past photos with only a part of the street name.
It was from the wedding photo above that we searched Google Maps for “de albero” and found it, now we know how to find it the next time without investigation work!
Time to go back to the hotel and head home, goodbye Venice, see you next time!
We flew Air France from Venice to Paris to Boston. The flight felt much longer in economy class :(.
Overall, the Dolomites is one of the top road trips I have taken, I highly recommend it! Burano is still the most colorful island after I visited 48 countries, another must-see while in Venice! Venice hasn’t change, despite the crowds, you can still find peace and charm away from San Marco Square. We will be back with the kids!!!