Day on Murano Island

Trip Start Jul 10, 2007
1
18
21
Trip End Jul 28, 2007


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Thursday, July 26, 2007

We knew we wanted to visit Murano Island to look for glass, and to see if the prices and items were any different, but getting there was the adventure.  I had read "on the Internet" before visiting Venice that there were hawkers, usually around Piazza San Marco, that would provide free water taxi rides and tours over to Murano Island, where at the end you were given a "tour" of the showroom and a high pressure sell.  Knowing that the high pressure sell was involved, we still decided we wanted to find a hawker and do the water taxi to Murano.
 
We went to San Marco and didn't find any!  We also haven't seen the concert ticket hawkers in period wear I had also read were everywhere.  Anyway, we decided to go towards the water, towards the vaporetto station that had the line going to Murano.  Well, Jackpot!  We found a hawker in fewer than ten steps!  He gave us the whole spiel, free ride, free tour, no obligation (all true).  We're like, "Sure!"  He escorted just the two of us to the absolutely gorgeous boat appointed in all leather with wood detailing, which was the water taxi.
 
So we assumed he'd fill the taxi and we'd be waiting a while, but no, we left immediately.  And, since we were on the opposite side of the island, we also got to go through the canals on the way to Murano!  It was amazing, and Jay took the most awesome video that you will have to wait to see, but it's really good.  So it's just the two of us in this large, luxurious, water taxi.  The ride over, all in all, was maybe 25 or 30 minutes?  It was a lot of fun, though.
 
At the "glass factory" we got a personal tour of the area where they had a glass master demoing glass blowing and other glass making techniques.  It was set up for showing, and not TRULY the factory, but they were making real glass pieces.  That took maybe ten minutes, and our personal "tour guide" told us all about the history of Murano glass making, methods, materials, etc.  After that, was the showroom, where our "tour guide" was there to help us.  He was actually a very good salesman, and I wouldn't call the sell high pressure.  I'd call it medium pressure, but very polite.  He didn't try to sell us anything we didn't first show interest in (Jay was inquiring about like five better-than-$3000 pieces of gorgeous Dino Rosin glass sculpture which were gorgeous but we were never going to buy anyway), and I was curious to see how much the price would go down when we weren't even actually negotiating (our word was, "no").  Anyway, he got to about 1800 or so euro on a piece that started at like 3250 euro, if you care.  We still didn't buy any.  I suspect I could have gotten a few (200?) more euro off if I was actually going to buy it.  But, it wasn't high pressure as much as politely persistent.  Totally worth the water taxi ride.  Jay referred to the whole maneuver as the "reverse scam," because we never intended to buy anything and were prepared for the showroom experience.  Did I mention the water taxi ride was SO COOL???
 
We left the "glass factory", and wandered all over Murano.  There were also myriad glass shops (duh) and I'm suspecting that politically, it would be very difficult to sell Chinese-made glass on the island, so I'm pretty sure anything sold there truly is glass made in Murano.  Prices were about the same as in Venice, but everything was just a little bit different, and I thought nicer.  There were also a LOT more lamps, and we spent the ENTIRE DAY looking at lamps in shops all over the island!  By 12:20 pm I was tired, and hungry, and needed a bathroom, but all of the restaurants on the water were SOOO expensive.  There was a grocery store, but there didn't appear to be any parks on the island.  We figured that the people on the island had to eat somewhere, so we looked for a main square on the map and went that way.  Trust me, when you're spending like three weeks on vacation, this price point issue is always of concern.
 
We found this small restaurant packed with people speaking Italian.  There were probably 15 total items on the menu, and not an empty table to be seen.  We hit the jackpot.  Also, the prices were probably 25-50% cheaper than we were paying in Venice.  Perfect.  We only had to wait a few minutes for a table and while we could sit immediately, to have it cleared was, well, as fast as something like that gets in Italy.  Half an hour later we had menus, a clear table, and were ordering.  The menu was totally in Italian with no translation, but the waiter could mention the food words pretty close to the actual English words.  I got pasta with clams, Jay got grilled fish.  We split half a liter of house wine (seriously, only 3.00 euro!), and waited.  Our food came in as long as it takes, and was absolutely amazing.  We finished it all, ordered more wine, and ordered a plate of fried calamari.  And then we ordered due caffe.  Which also all took as long as it takes, and by the end it was just after 2:30 pm when we were done.  The restaurant staff was all sitting at a table together eating lunch when we left, which when we got up the two other remaining tables also got up to leave.  Did I mention the food was so very good?  And the prices so very amazing?  Why pay more in Venice for food not as good? Why?
 
After lunch the lamp mission went on in earnest.  The lamp prices were 20-50 euro cheaper than in Venice so we decided we wanted to get them before leaving the island.  We decided on two in one shop, and a third wayyyyy back in the first shop we looked in.  After much whining on my part of hurting feet and tired from wine, Jay took me all the way to the first store to look again, then all the way almost back to the last store to look there again, too.  Luckily for me, he didn't make me go through this exercise twice.  The lamps are so very gorgeous, one ended up being even cheaper because it was her last one (or so she said, discount is discount).  She took it down off the ceiling to sell it to us, anyway.  Each lamp is unique from each other we chose, in three different colors, and styles, and will be so awesome hanging over our bar.
 
Now, we had to figure out how to get back to Venice, as we took the water taxi over!  We didn't see any tobacco shops to buy vaporetto tickets in, and the bakery that advertised that it sold them was closed.  There was no ticket office at the stop, either. We were told in the glass shop that we could buy vaporetto tickets on the boat, so we didn't worry about it.
 
Oh, one other thing about Murano.  There is a glass museum on the island, which all the glass factory people (the hawker and our "personal tour guide") assured us we could visit, which we wanted to do as the price of admission was included with our Plazzo Ducale ticket.  Turns out, the glass museum is CLOSED on Wednesday.  Nevermind.
 
So lamps in hand, we figure out what vaporetto will get us somewhere near our hotel, and get on it and progress back home.  Well, when we're asked for our tickets, I pull out my money and say, "Due."  Yeah.  The ticket taker wasn't pleased with this option, gave us a stern look (I think he was like 20) and told us clearly and slowly in ITALIAN, "Something something billetto something something PRIMARA." And then proceeded to pull tickets out of his bag, and sell them to us for three euro each (should have been six euro each) and sternly provided them to us with change.  If he can sell the tickets, and it's not a big deal, why did we get the stern Italian lecture??  Regardless, I didn't feel bad about him charging us less because, when we had bought our vaporetto tickets when we first got to Venice, Jay handled the transaction (the ONLY thing he paid for this WHOLE TRIP I SWEAR), and didn't count his change and was short changed 5 euro.  This sort of made it even.  But I'm telling you, even accounting for that, our free taxi ride over was worth every cent!  It was an awesome day.
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