So, as most of you know, I do a lot of travelling. I've learned some things and I've discovered some things - in general and in specific. The one thing I'm bad at is remembering those things. A lot of these little tidbits I know would help others when they travel and so I've decided to be a little more proactive with my travel tips. I probably won't remember a lot of my advice a few months or a year down the line so - for the record - if you ever think of travelling to Venice.... Here are a few things for you to consider.
- Make sure to purchase your Venice Card well in advance! Because all of Venice is waterways, the only way to get around is either via foot (which is pretty easy but sometimes you want to get places quickly and, on foot, you may need to do a lot of winding and crossing canals, etc) OR via water. You can take the occasional gondola ride, but gondolas are very expensive (incidentally, if you do a gondola ride, you can barter for the price - never pay what they say. Also - you're paying for the gondolier as much as the ride so make sure you get a personable one who can offer something besides the ride - some history, a song, something like that). So, the quickest and cheapest way is via water taxi or "Vaparetto". The Vaparetto can be bought on a single ride for most locations, but the best way is to get a Venice Card that allows you to travel as much as you want in a certain time period. We did two 48 hour passes, personally. So, you can buy those Venice Cards when you get into the Venice airport OR, the best way to do it is to go-online a few weeks in advance and buy a Venice Card as you'll save about 10 - 20%. Go to www.veniceconnected.com to purchase a Venice Card. If you wait until a few days before you go, what may happen is you may want to purchase a card for Wednesday until Sunday, but it will block the days so you can only purchase a card from Saturday to Sunday - so go on early enough to make sure that you can purchase all the days you want ahead of time. We didn't and we weren't able to get a discounted card :(
- I would really recommend to look at getting a bed and breakfast or, even better, an apartment while you're staying in Venice. Venice is amazingly expensive and so hotels can be better high and you may not get a really great place. However, you can get a pretty fair price on an apartment and you can find some really nice, newly renovated places. The nice thing there too is that you can do breakfasts and bring a pizza back to the place in the evening and save some more there - meals are VERY expensive in Venice! Save a few times a week and then you can afford to go someplace nice a few times. I usually look at VRBO.com or just google holiday apartments for rent. The place we went with was http://www.vrbo.com/222660 which was a nice place. We did wait a little late and so I was kind of searching for a place as all the ones I really would have liked were rented out already. The other thing I like about renting apartments is that you can get a little more feel for the way people really live in a place. This apartment we stayed at was in a back area of Venice, but a nice area. We had to go up a few flights of stairs, but it was a really nice place and we got to live a little Italian and hang our laundry out the window and bring take out pizza back to our place. Its always fun and an experience.
- DO NOT!!!! DO NOT!!!! Eat on the Grand Canal by the Rialto Bridge!!!!! ITS SUPER SUPER EXPENSIVE! And, I must admit that they are extremely rude. We ate at a few places and they tried to get you in, get your money and get you out. That was not our experience anywhere else, it was just the Rialto. The food was not that great either....
- You have to try a wine bar - just go in in the evening and stand at the counter and order some wine and listen to people talking.
- If you decide to stop for a coffee or a snack at the Piazzo San Marco area, know that if you sit outside at one of the places that has an outdoor "orchestra" playing - you WILL get charged for the priviledge of sitting there :) They charge upwards of 12 euros just to sit under the strains of the violins, even if they're on break :( Go next door to the place that doesn't have the orchestra and enjoy the sound for free!
- We were told this several times and it was one of the first things we actually did -- GET LOST! Just take a look at a map and the basic hotspots and then go out walking and enjoy life in Venice. Along that line - do not take a map and think that you will follow the map as you will get lost trying! Its impossible to find the streets and then to match it on the map. You totally have to look for major sites and then occassionally find a landmark sign pointing you to San Marco or Rialto or something.
- From what I understand - don't go to Venice in the summer - its stinks -- literally smells. Mayish or September and October are the best months.
- You HAVE to visit Murano and Burano - take a stroll around the main Venice, but make sure make sure you hop a ferry boat to those two other little islands. Burano is the best - colorful. lively, but peaceful and you could find quiet little spots. Loved it!
- Definitely consider taking a little sidetrip - rent a little car and drive up to Verona and a few other little historical spots along the way - it will take about an hour to drive from the airport and it can definitely be a day trip. Its worth it.
- If you don't like pigeons - Venice is not the place for you!
And so concludes my little wrap up of Venice and the wonders therein!