Things to note:
- Shop around for travel costs to Europe, the prices of flights can vary so much, and if you are flexible with the times/days you travel you could save hundred. When I flew to Venice I flew via Berlin (layover of 3 hours), thankfully everything was running on time and there were no delays catching the connecting flight, but just be careful if you are doing it this way to leave enough time between flights! When at Berlin airport my baggage was booked all the way through but I had to go right out of the airport and back in through customs/check in/security/etc again.
- Be aware that if you are traveling by yourself I would recommend that you get a flight where you arrive in Venice in day light hours. Reason being, if you can’t find your way to your hotel and you intend on walking there, a) it will be easier to navigate with the sun still out, and b) there will be people around you can ask! (read below)
- Also be aware that there are 2 airports in Venice!
- When traveling through Europe make sure you have coins on you for public toilets, it’s not very often that you find toilets where you don’t have to pay so make sure you have change!
- There is really nowhere to charge your phone when you’re out and about in Venice (no Starbucks!, but I didn’t care because Italian coffee is off the hook) so take a portable charger if you need it.
- And on the subject of coffee, if you have seen the movie Eat Pray Love with the scene where she’s trying to order in the café……it can actually be like that – so if you want your coffee you gotta speak up :P (and don’t ask for an Americano, also read below)
Getting to Venice:
I flew into Treviso Airport which is a little further out from central Venice (Marco Polo airport is the closest) but was still very easy to find transport into the city. There was a desk as you came out of arrivals and I just bought a ticket for the bus (ATVO buses) which was 12 euros (one way) that took me straight to Venice Piazzale Roma (main transport centre in Venice), which took about 50 minutes. From there I had made a plan to walk to my hotel which was only a 10 minute stroll away (FYI there are water taxis available as well) so with no WiFi/google maps access, I used my map that I had got at the airport which I thought I could master (but failed miserably). After about 20 minutes of doing that stereotypical look of a tourist standing there with luggage, and upside down map and a confused look on my face, I waved down a passerby that looked nice and prayed she spoke English. As luck would have it, after being personally escorted by the lovely girl, it seemed it was a match made in heaven as she was a student and was longing to practice her English but never found anyone to talk to, and I was longing to get to my hotel asap and not die from overheating in my winter woolies that I still had on from Dublin. Anywho, notes to take away here is to not be afraid to ask for help – I’m usually really good with directions and getting to places, but I don’t think there would have been anyway I would have reached my hotel without getting someone to take me there! The streets that look like a big street on the map can literally be a meter wide alleyway, and not all of the lanes have their names on it either!
First Impressions of the City:
The city is just so gorgeous, looking out the window at the beautiful canal and Venetian streets is just so magical. It is definitely a maze, and the best way (well, the only way really because there are no cars) to explore the streets of Venice is to get lost walking. The weather in August was just gorgeous and every day I was there it was perfect blue skies – good excuse for lots of gelato. It was a little bit odd seeing army guys casually walking around with machine guns :/ but as downer as that sounds, I never felt unsafe in the city.
I experienced quite a variety of personalities in Venice – the locals can be extremely friendly, helpful and accommodating to tourists, but they do come across as very sharp in manner! This was my first taste of language barrier territory and while there are a lot of Venetians who do speak English, you will come across situations where you’ll find yourself in a pickle trying to mouth out that you don’t understand what you’ve done wrong when trying to purchase apples in the grocery store. You might think someone is saying something completely exciting or outrageous to you with the loud voices and waving arms but in reality they might just be saying something like ‘hello’ or ‘do you want salt?’ :P Overall though, as much as Venice is a busy bustling city, there is a chill vibe to it as well and the locals definitely have the right idea of taking time out to enjoy good food and even better espresso’s.
I LOVED my accommodation in Venice. This was the first place that I stayed on this trip that wasn’t a hostel and by this point, even though it was cool staying in the hostels, I was ready to have my own space! The Antica Locanda Montin Hotel was nothing extravagant or fancy but very tidy and had a beautiful authentic old school Italian feel to it. The place is actually more known for its restaurant beneath the hotel (spaghetti and pizza is at your fingertips) but the building accommodates rooms for guests to Venice. There is a lobby (which totally looks like it’s out of ‘Alice through the looking glass’ if you’ve seen that movie :P ) with 6 rooms coming off it, and a shared bathroom. Even though it was shared bathroom, in the four nights I was there I never once bumped into anyone else or had to wait for the bathroom (good when you are tip toeing through the lobby at 3am in your PJs). I had the single room with its own sink/wardrobe/desk/bed and stunning view of the canal at the front of the building, it is ridiculously gorgeously peaceful in the evenings. Just to note as well that you’ll have to pay city tax at the hotel too, I had pre-paid my accommodation but everyone has to pay a certain amount for tax if staying in hotels (mine was about 3 euros per night).
Italy = foooood. It was awesome not seeing McDonalds at every corner in Venice, in fact I didn’t see any fast food chains in the whole place, except for 1 Burger King which looked horrendously out of place (who goes to Italy to eat f#%ken BK!?). You really are spoilt for choice with food here, the local restaurants are just incredible and the flavours, ooooh my gosh. You’ll find restaurants everywhere walking around and you’ll be in carb coma before you can say ‘no more breadsticks!’ – There are also a lot of bakeries, fruit stalls, pizza stands etc for snacky things. Restaurant eating can get quite expensive depending on where you eat but to give you an idea, a couple of times I paid 25 euros (roughly $38 NZ) for a light lunch meal (that was with only water, no wine! :( ). There aren’t many supermarket style stores either, I came across one while I was there (quite accidentally, and thankfully :P ) called Coop which was a good one but was still quite limited with what they had. Also FYI, I would recommend not asking for an Americano coffee while in Italy…..I might have caught someone having a bad day…but if looks could kill! :P, but all for the best anyway because from then on I was introduced to their espressos.
A few must see things around Venice are the Grand Canal, Saint Mark’s Basilica, Piazza Saint Marco, Rialto Bridge, plus you’ll come across tucked away churches and museums on your walking travels. I booked a Venetian Islands Tour that included Murano, Burano & Torcello which I would highly recommend, it was four hours and included a glass making demonstration and time to get off at each island to have a look around/buy souvenirs/eat more bread sticks/get high on coffee. The Rialto Markets is also one to do if you like the market scene! Also, as lovely and gorgeous as Venice is, after a few days there I felt like I was just craving to see some greenery and open space (as opposed to tight squeezes between buildings and stone colour :P). If you are finding you are feeling the same, there is a little park called Giardino Papadopoli which is nice to hang out in for a bit and soak up the greenery :P
- Spending money (including activities/attractions/food/transport etc) – $280
Check out the little video of my Italian experience below or here, you can watch a time lapse of walking through the streets of Venice here, and also a demo of glass making here. Check out my previous Vlog filmed while in Venezia here, and if you have any questions please flick me a message! Next Blog – Paris/Amsterdam :D
Thank you for looking x