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This is the kind of thing you miss when you pull the blind down on your window seat: Venice from the air.
We took this on a BA flight from Gatwick to Bari the week before last. When we’d flown the same route a couple of years before, we’d been treated to an unforgettable sight of Venice, with the Grand Canal snaking its way down the middle of the city. So this time we were prepared.
As we were crossing the Alps, we asked one of the flight attendants when we’d be going over Venice. “Will we be going over Venice?” she said, in that typical glum BA style. “I have no idea. Only the pilot would know that.” So we asked her to ask the pilot, who said that yes, in 10 minutes, it’d be coming up.
Ten minutes later, there it was. Not as perfect a view as the last time, but you can still make out the Grand Canal, Giudecca, San Michele, Murano and the Lido. Straordinario!
Christmas Alternatives / Holiday Travel / Venice / Venice Travel / New Years Travel / New Years Alternatives / Romantic Travel / → All Tags
Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn have the right idea in the movie Four Christmases; ditch the family for a romantic vacation this holiday. Venice is a reliable spot for a you and your mistletoe partner to get away for some alone time. And it's not too late to buy tickets. Kayak is offering round-trip airfare to the starting at $1,099 during the holidays. That's expensive for the rest of the year, but not during this seasonit's a bargain.
Of course, the obligatory romantic thing to go is take a gondola ride in the canals, but that's the number one offense on our list of what not to do in Venice. While riding a gondola with only two people can get pretty expensive, don't let that deter you from enjoying the canals, even if it's by vaporetto, or water bus. The canals are a big part of the city's mystique and being on the water in the winter will give you a reason to snuggle with your honey.
Or do more than snuggle...
What Not To Do In / Tourists / Venice Travel / Venice / Italy Travel / Lists / → All Tags
Gondolas, palaces and 'O Sole Mio"ahhh, the usual romantic image of Venice. Granted, the city known as "La Serenissima," is quite lovely and enchanting, but also full of money potholes and tourist stereotypes.
Because we like you, and because we've had our fair share of Venice visits and wish all the same enjoyment for yours, we're helping you out with our list of What Not To Do In Venice: The Top 5 Tourist Mistakes.
Check them out, after the jump.
Events / Montreal / Beer Travel / Kentucky Travel / Venice / → All Tags
· Venice: This weekend marks the opening of Venice's huge art to-do, the Biennale, which transforms the city into an exhibition space for international artists until November. While the acqua alta floods the city during late winter and early spring, the Biennale does its own summer flooding of Venice with tourists and fans of modern art, film, music and dance. Expect to see odd apparitions like inflatable icebergs plopped in squares, such as in the picture above. For information on the exhibition's major shows and locations, check out the official website.
Notoriously awash with tourists, the Acqua Alta and Bellinis, Venice is about to add Coca-Cola to the mix as the city's official soft drink. Of course in a city that has a love-hate relationship with modernity, the multi-million dollar deal between Venice's mayor and Coke isn't going over very swimmingly.
According to the BBC, in an attempt to supplement the meager government funds earmarked for conservation, the city will receive $2.7 million from Coke for installing "sixty vending machines which will sell the drink all over the city, including at the main waterbus stations and reportedly even St Mark's Square, where a city ordinance already forbids picnicking by tourists."
Venice used to be a romantic getaway. Now it's kinda like being in grade school, because there are just so many rules you have to follow. Last year, we warned you to keep your shirt on--being bare-chested, or eating a picnic on St Mark's Square, can get you fined almost $40. But starting next week, feeding pigeons will be banned, too.
Venetian authorities are sick of the repair bills the birds cause, not just from droppings but also because they peck at gaps in building facades. Feeding the pigeons is apparently much worse than exposing your chest, because the fines start at 50 (nearly US$80).
We're not sure that the pigeons will get the message here, as they've been ruining St Mark's Square for decades now. And we're curious about what activity will be next on the "Not in Venice" list.
Signs / Italy Travel / Venice / Il Terraglio / → All Tags
Il Terraglio is the stretch of road between the Province of Venice and the uber conservative city of Treviso. By day the road is seemingly unassuming, lined with your typical Italian trattorie, coffee shops, and villas. But by night it's a sexed-up superhighway filled with prositutes.
On a recent drive back from Venice we counted thirty-five in a 2-mile radius at which point we felt slightly violated for even being on the same pavement, not to mention they were getting picked up left and right. Eww. Suddenly there it was, this salty sign provocatively posted along the street. In English it says, WATCH OUT FOR PROSTITUTES.
Camps / Wine / Venice / Learning Holidays / → All Tags
We thought our summer camp days were long passed, but a recent list publicized by Reuters of the top ten camps for adults has got us thinking twice. The list includes a few camps we're personally not so interested in--poker camp in Vegas, or crossword puzzle creation camp on an Eastern Caribbean cruise--but there are also a few we're really hoping our parents will spring for.
Winemaking camp in the Napa Valley, for example, sounds like a nice way to spend a few days, especially if we get to sample plenty of what the camp leaders have already prepared. In Venice, there are gondolier training camps, vet safari camps in Africa where you can follow a micro-chipping, ear-notching vet on his travels and elephant care camps in Northern Thailand.
The list is full of programs offered by hotels or tour operators that perhaps aren't strictly vacation camps at all, but we do like the idea. We're going to put the gondolier camp on our birthday wish list. Are you listening, Mom?
· Top 10 Quirky Vacation Camps for Adults [Reuters]
· Hilton Venice Offers Gondolier Training Classes [HotelChatter]
[Photo: Ayres no graces]
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With the suffocating appearance of books, websites and TV shows listing places to travel "before you die" (they make us feel kind of pressured and inadequate, no matter how well-traveled we are), it's nice to read a list that tells us to chill out at home for a bit.
The Sydney Morning Herald travel blog recently posted the things not to try before you die list, which somehow seems much more interesting. Not that we're guaranteeing we'll follow the advice, but drinking Ugandan tap water and using a squat toilet on a train are travel activities we already were a bit suspicious about.
Further anti-advice includes not going to a glass-blowing demonstration in Venice, not flying into Heathrow or Gatwick airports and not taking a Greyhound bus across the U.S. It says not to fly on any U.S.-based airlines either, which kind of limits a lot of travel possibilities. At least we don't feel the pressure of crossing things off a "before you die" list.
· 100 Things Down Under [Jaunted]
· Things Not To Try Before You Die [SMH]
Finally, Matt Gross of the New York Times Frugal Traveler column has decided to undertake something of a challenge. While we've liked the weekly reports thus far, traveling on the cheap where everything is cheap is less of a trial than making your way through Venice on a budget, as he did today.
Venice can feel like a giant tourist trap. There are obligatory things to see all in once place, and as Matt mentions, it's hard to feel like you're having a moment if you've paid 14 euro for a bellini at Harry's Bar. He recommends the spritz, a combination of prosecco and Campari, instead, but it's still depressing.
Ultimately, for us, Venice is a lot like living in New York City. It's great if you're a student and don't mind surviving on sandwiches and pizza, or if you have a ton of money, enough to not care how much you have to drop to do everything you want (including a 100 euro water taxi ride to the airport, which we highly recommend). Doing it in the middle is the hardest. Besides, gondolas are cheesy, but you have to do it at least once. Where's the fun in denying yourself a gondola ride?
[Image via pensiero/Flickr]
· Making the Most of Venice [NYT]