This would have been included in my post about Venice, but I have perfected the art of procrastination to such a fine point that I was still writing the blog entry for that trip when it came time to take the train to the next one. In fact, it may have led to a sweaty dash to the train station and promises about “being more prepared next time” or some other Oprah self-help book crap. In any case, this part of our trip to Venice was so cool it really does deserve its own entry.
There are a few different island tours in the area from which to choose; we chose the Murano, Torcello, Burano tour. The price was relatively cheap (around 20 Euros each), and took about 5 hours, with precise 45 minute stops on each island. The strict time constraint may not work for you if you want to spend more time on each island, in which case there are ferries and other means of water transportation that will take you there for however long you need (they work like city buses, though considerably more expensive). If you are pressed for time and a general overview is all you need (as was the case with us, as we were only there over a long weekend and had other things to see), then the three island half day tour is perfect.
The first stop was the island of Murano, which is famous worldwide for its glass making. Straight off the boat, the tour group is lead into a glass making demonstration. It was quite lively, and the guide was entertaining in all five of the languages he could speak (I am trying to get over my jealousy of so many Europeans being able to do that). The tour is then sort of forced into a gift shop, which is my only real criticism here. There is a lot of really great stuff in this gift shop and the others around the island, and even I was roped into spending some money there. But be warned before doing so: the merchandise here is the same as what is sold by the merchants within Venice proper, but at higher prices. So you are better off waiting.
After the glass-blowing, we did some wandering. This island of about 5,000 has a few beautiful sights of its own, but don’t expect anything too quiet or peaceful. It’s still filled with tourists and gift shops.
The next island on the tour was Torcello, which had the least touristy feel of our stops that day. It is actually the oldest inhabited part of Venice, and at one point was the most populated part of the area. The population now is about 20. It has a beautiful, natural landscape, a few scattered restaurants, homes, and shops, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. There is quite a walk from the dock to where the cathedral is, but it’s along a nice canal and most people could use a bit of exercise anyway. So do it. And be sure to take hundreds of photos like I did!
The final island of the day was Burano, which is most widely known for its lace and brightly colored homes. Although this island was again full of tourists and gift shops, it is an island not to be missed. In fact, if you wanted to forgo the full tour and concentrate on one island to explore for longer than 45 minutes, this would be the one I’d suggest. The winding streets and canals are like a brightly painted miniature version of Venice itself. There is even a common print made from the doors and windows around the area, which my partner and I had hanging in our hallway long before even deciding to go. Even if you don’t care for lace, stores with lace, or demonstrations of lace-making (of which there are plenty), this would be a pleasant place to spend an afternoon or evening. It would also be a nice place to get your Nana some new doilies.
And now, I will share some gratuitous shots I took outside my airplane window. Having developed a fear of flying out of nowhere a couple of years back, my therapist suggested I own the fear (yes, they actually say things like that) by forcing myself to look out the windows of planes and even take photos of the sky and the ground below. To be honest, it really does help. That, and the xanax.
The first few are of the Swiss Alps while flying back into Luxembourg, and the last are of the Luxembourg landscape.