Saturday, April 11, 2009

Been There? Done That?

If you have been there and done that and would like to give us some advice, go ahead. We're in the planning stages of a short jaunt to Venice this July. We are aware that it may not be the best time to go, but it's the time we have available. Do you know a favorite place to stay? Favorite things to see and do? Places to avoid? A favorite restaurant? How to deal with a car? How to get around? Do you have a favorite memory you'd like to share? If you've got answers, we're ready to listen. Leave a comment, or if you'd like our e-mail address, just ask.


Anonymous said...

I wish I knew something about Venice...other than how envious I am of your trip there! Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

We were in Venice for a few days in 1967. It was my first trip to Europe. Ron was in his second year teaching architecture history at the University of Nebraska. He was intent on taking photographs of famous buildings that he would use in his class. I remember that we had to get up really early to photograph the Doges Palace before all the tourists arrived for the day. I remember it as being barely light. We went around to squares, statues, churches,etc. Then back to St Marks Square for croissant and coffee. Well pleased with the early morning work, Ron looked over his camera and discovered he had no film in the camera! We repeated the exercise the next morning with film.
We were on a tight budget so we looked for "mom& pop" restaurants and were well pleased with our choices. I remember that we had another goal on that find silver charms for Ron's mom's charm bracelet. Photographing buildings and finding charms that we could afford were considered our "work". When that was completed each day, then we could have fun enjoying the sights and smells of Venice.
We returned to Venice in 1972 with our daughters. It was spring break and we camped somewhere on a hill outside of Venice and it snowed; a rare event there. Judy

Gail Sauter said...

Hi - Enjoy!! Venice is my absolute favorite city in the world! I'm an artist (American) and I come to Europe once or twice a year to paint. Generally I stay for a month or 6 weeks at at time.

You will be hitting high tourist season in July but I have some great options for places to stay.

However, First off - Car? You don't need a car in Venice - there are no cars! Take the train or fly and save the money of a rental car for your hotel! They can be pricey. Here is our favorite low-cost hotel - great location reasonable price (for Venice):

When we don't stay at this hotel, we stay in convents! They are cheap, clean - and safe! The nuns are so old that many have turned their convnts into hotels (not enough young nuns coming along). There is a book called "Guide to Italy's Monestarys and Convents". Unfortunately, most don't have websites, but all the contact info is given in the book. It is a invaluable asset to travel in Italy. I can't recommend it highly enough.I've stayed in many, all over the country and had fabulous experiences (you don't have to be Catholic).

And my final advice: get off the beaten path in Venice - toss out the guidebook and map - you are on an island, you CAN'T get lost! (most intersections have directional signs on the buildings - look up! Keep heading in the general direction you want to go and you'll get there!) Most important in Venice is to just wander!!!!! All of Venice is completely safe for tourists! The real Venice is NOT on the paths the tourists stick to (like herds of ants one following the other and complaining about how crowded it is!) If you go one street parallel to the crowded ones, you will see the Italians' Venice. Also, be sure to go to the island of Burano. It's wonderful.

Have a blast!

Gail Sauter

Anonymous said...

I have a Venice story too. I went there in about 1958 with my family, father, mother sister, brother and some cousins – we stayed in a cheap ‘pensione’ in the centre somewhere, not far from St Mark’s Square. After arriving late evening by water taxi from the ‘park and ride’ place outside the city, we checked in and agreed to meet in the lobby for dinner. We didn’t at all like the look of the hotel’s restaurant so went for a stroll around the streets – I was charged with remembering the return route – it must have been a couple of km and involved innumerable twists and turns. After ‘failing to agree’ on several superb-looking restaurants with great menus outside (you know how families suffer from indecision) we eventually found the ‘perfect place’ that got a unanimous vote and it produced a fantastic meal, simple and delicious (as only the Italians know how) and not outrageously expensive. The waiters were particularly pleasant and smiling, and we dumped a huge tip on the table when we left.
In spite of being well oiled with wine, and very tired after a long day’s travel, we managed to navigate the complicated route back to our hotel. Next morning we met for breakfast as agreed in the hotel’s dingy restaurant which turned out to be a thin room extending a very long way back into the bowels of the building. Italian breakfasts in 1958 weren’t anything special but we noticed that the hotel staff were very pleasant and seemed pleased to see us, which was a bit odd. After a few minutes I mentioned to the rest of the family that the waiters seemed to be familiar. They all agreed yes we’d seen them somewhere before. Then it dawned on us – they included some of the team who had looked after us so well the night before! How was that?
The answer was simple – our long, tortuous walk the night before had actually delivered us to the back of the building we had started from and we had gone into our hotel’s restaurant at the other end through the smart back door.
Julian Gray, LĂ©ran