Photographer based in the Chilterns, Bedfordshire

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Santa Chiara Hotel, Venice

Santa Chiara Hotel, Venice

We had visited Venice 10 years ago, believe it or not it was a day trip on one of those bargain Ryanair deals for £10 and it remained the most beautiful location that I had ever photographed, in fact I was so tired of taking photos that I put my camera away…now there’s a first!

So when the opportunity arose to revisit this beautiful city, I jumped at the chance. We were to spend a long weekend from Saturday early morning, returning on Monday afternoon. Flying out from London Luton Airport to Marco Polo Airport, with a flight time of about two hours. Whilst Sue waited for our suitcase (a 23kgs case for two of us was perfect) I bought our onward journey shuttle bus tickets from one of the machines in the arrivals lounge. £14 for two of us booked the short 20 minute coach journey from the airport to the Piazzale Roma, the main transport hub for the city.

Our hotel for this stay was the delightful Santa Chiara a 500 year old former monastery with a modern marbled square extension. One of the best features staying at this hotel, is the fact that it is so conveniently located near to the bus station, which means there is no lugging of suitcases through the throngs of tourists, over the bridges that span the various islands that make up Venice and down the cobbled alleyways. Within five minutes we were checking in at reception and although there is a vibrant feel to the area we were not disturbed by any noise during our three day stay.

Santa Chiara Hotel

We were early to book into our room, so the polite reception staff took our case and gave us three routes on a map to go and explore Venice. So off we set over the Ponte della Costituzione bridge, a stunning piece of architecture that leads to the bank of the Grand Canal. We found the best way to explore Venice is go on foot and get lost amongst the labyrinth of quaint narrow alleyways and smaller canals, stopping occasionally for a coffee, cake, slice of pizza or ice cream.

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The shops are plentiful in Venice ranging from the tourist type to the designer outlets. Similarly you will never go hungry here, with every type of restaurant imaginable.

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Parts of the hotel date back 500 years and so you get a real taste of authentic Venice but it has also been tastefully modernised. Our room had a view towards the Grand Canal, the bed was very comfortable, coffee & tea making facilities were free and there was also a mini bar with a selection of drinks at reasonable prices.

The bathroom was stunning, a huge mirror with variable colours illuminating it, that could be controlled to suit. LED backlit mirrors, complimentary toiletries and a drench shower with hose attachment. There was a free safe for valuables too.

Breakfast was served in a beautifully decorated dining room overlooking the Grand Canal. Choice of food was excellent and service top notch.

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On our second day we visited the picture perfect island of Burano which is a short boat trip away. The tickets cost €20 for a full 24 hour unlimited pass, which was excellent value. Stopping first on the neighbouring island of Murano, which is renowned for its glass blowing. We didn’t have time to explore Murano because we had to catch the onward boat to Burano but perhaps next time we will spend more time here.

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No visit to Venice would be complete without photographing Piazza San Marco, often known in English as St Mark's Square. The heart of the city, where everyone comes to see and be seen. Considered one of the finest squares in the world, it is surrounded on three sides by the arcades of public buildings and on the fourth by The Basilica di San Marco.

I photographed this square both at sunrise and later on in the late afternoon, when we ascended the iconic Campanile, the bell tower standing 98 metres high and originally built as a lighthouse to assist navigation in the lagoon. We took the lift to the viewing area for a magnificent view overlooking the city. Highly recommended and only €8 entry each. Whilst we were at the top, the bells started chiming.

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Santa Chiara Hotel was such a lovely place to come back to after a long hard day walking around Venice. On one of the days I managed to walk over 11 miles whilst out photographing the sights. An oasis of calm in a vibrant city.

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Our long weekend was soon over but I had taken over 450 photographs during our stay. The weather had been glorious all weekend but when we arrived at the airport a thunderstorm started approaching with flashes of lightning, this inevitably meant that our plane could not be refuelled. So we were transported out to the plane on a bus and then once aboard, the captain informed us that we faced a 45 minute delay. However he also said that anyone who wanted to come up the front and join in him in the cockpit for a chat and look around were most welcome.

This was music to my ears, being an aviation enthusiast and so I had a 10 minute chat with the captain and sat in his seat! Well done Easyjet.

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A big ‘Thank You’ to all of the staff at the Santa Chiara Hotel for the lovely welcome you gave both of us and having us stay in your beautiful hotel. Your city is bellissimo!

Our stay was complimentary. As always, all opinions are my own.

 
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