Venice Day 2 (Part 1)

Merry Christmas to all my followers and readers out there! You know who you are and a very Happy New Year to you too!

After seeing first-hand regarding the lack of tourists early in the morning, we woke up super early to get to St. Mark’s Square. There is one sure-fire way on arriving there without having to travel the maze-like narrow streets of Venice — hop on the vaporetto. In order to enjoy this, you must some stay somewhere near to one of the stops or within walking distance.

Try to stay somewhere near the vaporetto stops or within walking distance

Antiche Figure

We stayed at this elegant hotel, probably the only hotel which was over budget throughout this European tour of ours, known as Hotel Antiche Figure. Nothing beat its location — right across Venezia Santa Lucia. The reason why we chose this hotel? For that you have to ask QS (my sister), she wanted to stay somewhere grand since we are in Venice.

For the price that we paid, the hotel responded in kind. We were allowed to drop off our bags for an early check-in and the bags were delivered to our rooms while we were exploring Venice. Every morning we were given a huge selection of Continental breakfast enough to last till noon. We were also given sweets next to our pillow. Not to mention the view from our room, we were facing the Grand Canal!

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this hotel to anyone who’s keen on budgeting, this would be considered a splurge. We weren’t really planning to visit Venice again in the near future, so why not?

Hotel Antiche Figure

Hotel Antiche Figure

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Venice Day 1 (Part 4)

I apologize for the lack of photos in the previous post. We were low on batteries and were saving for the final itinerary of the day – San Giorgio Maggiore. We didn’t have time to charge the batteries due to the transport conundrum handed to us by DB Bahn. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

We woke up from our short nap fully refreshed, it was 330pm in the afternoon and we had a long way to walk along Riva degli Schiavoni towards the vaporetto stops outside St Mark’s Square. We were supposed to meet up with the rest of the family there. The blistering sun took its toll on us, luckily, we saw this huge ice cream cone by the sidewalk — Il Pinguino (The Penguin).

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” said the wife.

“Alright, let’s go cool ourselves down with the famous Italian gelato,” I replied.

We parted with €2.50 each for a 2-scoop gelato and it was heaven for a hot day. Despite the huge numbers of tourists around the vaporetto stop, it wasn’t too hard to spot the rest of my family.

“Let us go somewhere with less crowd,” I suggested.

“Where?”

“Over there, across the lagoon.” I pointed towards a church-like structure.

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Amsterdam : The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I forgot to list down a few unforgettable things whilst in Amsterdam for 3 days.

The Good

Food

There is a variety of cuisine to choose from due to the Dutch being masters of the sea and trade back in the early days. They brought back a lot from the different cultures they met during their conquest. To any visitors going to Amsterdam, you won’t run out of choices for food.

Walkable City

Even if you don’t cycle in Amsterdam, the city is not too big to venture out on your own two feet. The streets in between the canals surrounded by nice Dutch architecture will make you go ooh and aah once in awhile. And if you’re anywhere near the ‘9 Streets’ area, that is the place to start walking.

The Bad

Abundance of museums

Other than the Van Gogh, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank’s House, the rest of the museums can be considered as eclectic or worse, a tourist trap. It would not be a problem if you have the Museumcard or the iAmsterdam card. But if you don’t? Be aware that Amsterdam boasts about 100-150 museums just in the town area alone. Sex museum? Check. Handbags museum? Check.

Smell of marijuana/pot

Probably it is just me and the fact that these things are banned in my country. But whenever walking past the shops or person, the smell is just too much. Although it is not nauseating, it isn’t your eau de toilette either.

The Ugly

Urinals

I have no idea whose brilliant plan it was to place public urinals around the city. Worse of all, most of them are overflowing and the trickling of piss can be seen around the immediate vicinity, not to mention the smell. A big turn off for such a fine city.

Why don’t you share some of your experience about Amsterdam in the comments below.

Venice Day 1 (Part 3)

There is only one sure thing in Venice — getting lost. It is part and parcel of touring in Venice without a guide and without a proper map. The art of getting lost in Venice is actually welcomed with open hands.

Getting lost in Venice is an experience you will never forget, get used to it

“Are you sure it is this way?”

“Are we there yet?”

“Haven’t we been here before?”

“I think we passed by this shop earlier.”

“Why does this look so familiar?”

“Isn’t that the church tower that we are supposed to be headed to?”

“What is the name of this street?”

“Why isn’t this junction on the map?”

So on and so forth the conversation would go between my family and I. In order to find our way, all we need to do is to identify the landmarks around Venice, most notably the Rialto Bridge, St Mark’s Square and the churches. Once you have all these marked down on your map, you won’t be lost for that long.

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Venice Day 1 (Part 2)

Our first stop was the Doge’s Palace.

“It says here that Venice was known as the most serene republic,” said the wife. Spouting off her new found local knowledge garnered from the travel guides. Saved us a fortune on hiring local guides to take us around.

“Serene? What about this blood stained pillar thing here?” I pointed at the facade of the Doge’s Palace. “I think this is where they chopped off their heads.”

Blood stained?

Blood stained?

The Doge’s Palace houses the home of the ruler of the Venetian empire and its government back in their heydays. Surprisingly, they held onto power for almost 400 years.

To avoid the queue, you can get the Museum Pass from Venice Connected. Depending on the season and also the types of museum passes, be ready to pay €8 to €20 each. If you plan on visiting more than one museum in Venice, you can get the Museum Pass (€18/€20) that lasts for 6 months but only one entry each to the museums listed. Or if you only plan to visit those around the St Mark’s Square, they have the Museum of St Mark’s Pass (€16).

“We’ve got the Museum Pass right?” said QS.

“This way then, shorter queue.” replied GC.

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Venice Day 1 (Part 1)

“Ahh!”

Stretching my limbs after coming off the train and onto the platform. There were a few luggage bags yet to carry. The whole family was here now — the parents, GC, QS, the wife and I. Sunlight was just shining through the clouds and reflecting off the canal waters. Right into our eyes as we step out of Venezia Santa Lucia train station, or also known locally as Ferrovia.

“Are we there yet?” came the question.

Although it would have sounded weird to anyone else, it was perfectly logical on this particular day and at this particular time. Reason? Our City Night Line train from Munich to Venice was cancelled at the very last minute. The replacement journey was more of an adventure rather than a like-for-like exchange.

Going off topic for awhile here so bear with me. It’s surreal to hear your name being called out by the broadcaster at such a huge train station — Munich Hauptbahnhof. Especially so if it is in a foreign country. Luckily for me, the first few seconds were lost to wondering ‘Did I hear it correctly?’, then it was followed by the rest of my family’s name, so it was certain, they were calling for us.

It seems that there was a problem with the tracks near the Italian border, we were then bundled into buses, everyone was still unsure about the whole shebang. Are we getting on the right bus? What about our luggage? My immediate concern was the arrival time, we had an itinerary to follow and this was a major delay. Luckily, the bus journey was smooth until about 5am in the morning, when we stop at what appeared to be a train station.

“Are we there yet?” was again being heard all around us.

“I’m quite certain we didn’t cross any bridges just before arriving,” so it was certainly not the Venezia Santa Lucia station. I’m guessing it was the Vicenza station. We were forced to cram up in the train to Venezia Santa Lucia. We sat 8 in a cabin meant for 4, but there was no time to complain, we all wanted to arrive at Venice.

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