Travel Diary | Venice, Italy

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous. __________________________________

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Welcome to Lyd on Life

If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Instagram then you’ll know I spent a few days in Venice last month. K and I decided to celebrate 2 years together by going on a little baecation. Do people still say that?

Even thought I’m a month late on writing this post I wanted to share it with you guys because we had such an amazing time. It’s amazing what a few days away from your normal world with the right person can do.

K and I have been to Italy before. K went to Turin with his family years ago and I went to Genoa with a friend I used to work with. However, neither of us had been to Venice so we thought why not.

Venice is the city of love, right? A beautiful place with lots of things to enjoy in a short amount of time. Can you say cheap and cheerful? You can read more on how we planned our trip in my previous travel post – 12 Tips to Planning Your First Holiday Together.

WHERE DID WE STAY?

We flew in from Gatwick Airport to Marco Polo Airport and landed at 11:00am. The humidity had played havoc with my hair and I was too tired to play Dora the explorer on the public transport so we took a taxi. Tired Simba was not the look I had in mind coming here. Am I the only one who struggles to look cute after an early flight?

After taking a taxi for 20 minutes we arrived at the NH Laguna Palace Hotel in Mestre, Venice. Our home for the next 4 days and 3 nights.

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After extensive research on tripadvisor.com we had high hopes for this hotel. It was 10 minutes from the Mestre train station and just a 15-minute drive from the city’s historical centre. As we walked in, the hotel was lovely, cool and boasting gorgeous views overlooking a marina. One of the main selling point for us.

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K and I had stayed at the NH Hotel in Amsterdam last year for my sister’s birthday and loved it so much so we hoped the rooms would be just as nice if not better in Venice.  We entered our room and the first thing we noticed was the huge bed; much like the one in Amsterdam. Sadly, that’s where the similarities between the two hotels ended.

There was dust on the furniture and rust marks on the floor. Most of the sockets were hanging off the wall and the room didn’t look as modern as the one in Amsterdam. I was not a happy bunny. K didn’t mind but do guys ever care about the room? Nonetheless, I wasn’t going to let a little dust and some rust ruin our stay. Although, they did make us wait 4 hours in a nearby McDonald because our room wasn’t ready. Should I have made a complaint about the room?

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Once we settled in, our plan was to get dressed and stroll around in the city centre for a while before coming back for dinner. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep and the huge comfy bed staring at us made it very easy for us to slip into a 5 hour nap. We woke up just in time for dinner but the hotel menu was expensive and not very appetising so we walked to the nearby restaurants. We stopped by a restaurant called Unico Ristorante just 5 minutes from our hotel. The food and service was amazing! Probably the best food I’ve had in Italy so far. It cost around €60 for a starter, 2 meals and 2 drinks but it was worth it. Wish I could go back just for their Mozzarella in carrozza!

WHAT DID WE DO?

A day had already gone on food, flying and sleeping so we decided to make the most of the 3 days remaining. K got a lot of information from europeforvisitors.com which helped us plan where to go and what to do during our time in Venice. We bought a travel ticket for €20 each from a local shop which gave us access to buses and water taxi (aka vaporetto) for 24 hours.

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Lido di Venezia

First stop was Venice Lido; an 11-kilometre long sandbar. We got on a bus 5 minutes from our hotel to Santa Lucia Railway station where we took a vaporetto to Lido. It was hot so of course we had to grab a gelato before chilling by the sea. We wanted to discover Lido a bit more but unfortunately, it was getting late and we still had some more site-seeing to do elsewhere. In summer, Venice’s Lido is a popular Adriatic beach resort and a convenient (and inexpensive) place to stay at any time of year. Perhaps we’ll stay here next time we visit Venice.

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Piazza San Marco

In New York, there is Times Square. In London, there’s Trafalgar Square. And in Venice there is St. Mark’s Square (or Piazza San Marco if you’re fancy). After leaving Lido we took a vaporetto towards San Marco – the historical city centre. We spent most of our time doing touristy things here. I won’t bore you with the history of this place (not that I know much of it myself). Let me let the pictures do the talking…

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Palazzo Ducale

The Palazzo Ducale aka the Doge’s Palace is also in St Mark’s Square. We paid €20 each to access this museum which also included entry to the Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale and Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea of the history behind the Doge’s Palace either (or most of the landmarks we visited for that matter). I was more interested in the art and the beauty of this historic place rather than the history behind it. And take cute pictures. Is that bad?

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Basilica di San Marco

If it’s your first time in Venice, you must visit the Basilica di San Marco. For us, it was the main attraction in St Mark’s Square. It is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice and is one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. From the spectacular gold mosaics to its opulent design, the St Mark’s Basilica is enough to thrill the most jaded connoisseur of the Christian Crusades. It certainly thrilled us!

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The queue looked quite long but moved fast once we were in it. Upon entering I was asked to cover my arms and knees as a sign of respect. Lucky for me I had something in my bag but they do provide you with something to cover up if needed.

Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures or videos inside the building and though it’s free to enter, you do have to pay to go to certain parts of the building. The construction was honestly breath taking, I wish we were able to capture it.

Campanile di San Marco

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Just opposite the Basilica di San Marco, is the bell tower aka Campanile di San Marco. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city and gives you a 360 view of the beauty that is Venice. You can see the whole of Venice and the islands that make up this amazing city from 323 ft up. It’s quite windy up there and can get a bit cold so we didn’t stay for too long. A few postcard worthy pictures and we were out. Tickets cost €8 each and the line is a bit long but it’s definitely worth it.

The Rialto Bridge

On the third day we decided to visit the Rialto Bridge, one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice. It is the oldest bridge across the canal and is said to be the true heart of Venice. It has an amazing view of the Grand Canal especially at night where there are less people. Unfortunately, we went during the day like all the other love birds so it was very crowded and raining but it was still nice.

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Walking through the streets

On our last day, we walked from Santa Lucia Railway station to San Marco, stopping at random shops, museums and stalls. The walk took about 1 hour both ways but it was worth it. Not only did it save us money but we were able to discover random museums and beautiful architecture hidden away in the Venice streets and alleys. I would have done a full photo shoot if we had time!

There are signs around to show you how to go from one place to another which helped. However K told me that the locals sometimes put up fake signs to mess around with the tourist. Italian sense of humour. It’s kinda funny right? Lucky for us we didn’t find any of those. The walk was definitely worth it and helped me work off the heavy pasta dish I ate at one of the restaurants on our walk back to the station. The waiter who served us was so lovely!

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Where to next?

We met a lovely Australian couple at the restaurant on our last day. They came to Venice to board a 10 day cruise and told us they would be staying in Malta for 5 days after the cruise before heading back home. The husband was very excited about Malta. He spent a good 15 minutes telling us about the history and how it’s such an amazing place to visit (and cheap too!). Might make it our next holiday destination. Like I said, cheap and cheerful is my thing!

We’ll see.

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Your Turn…

Where was your first holiday together alone? How did you find it?

Share your experiences, questions and tips with everybody in the comments below or get in touch with me via…

Twitter: @lydiaonlife
Instagram: @lydiaonlife
Email: lydonlife@gmail.com

Till next time.

Love,

Lydia x

 

Travel | 12 Tips to Planning Your First Holiday Together

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch _____________________________________

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Welcome to Lyd on Life

I’m back from Venice and boy have I caught the travel bug.

Whether it’s a nice city break or a lovely beach holiday, there’s nothing like taking a few days from your own world to see the rest of the world. The process of planning your holiday isn’t always so easy, especially when it comes to travelling with your partner.

June 28th marked K and I’s 2-year anniversary. We’re not married so I’m not sure if non-married couples celebrate anniversaries but we thought why the hell not?! We both love travelling and this was a perfect way to start our travel adventures together.

First stop, Venice. Why? Well, it’s the city of love, right? Or so they say. Plus, it was first on our ever-growing holiday bucket list.

If you’re planning your first getaway with your partner then hopefully this post will give you a few tips to help you enjoy your perfect holiday.

Let’s get started!

TIP 1: Do not commit to a timescale or budget you both cannot keep to.

There’s nothing worse than having one person feeling like they are out of their depth. You’re going on this trip together so your expectations of what you can afford and buy should be agreed beforehand. Be honest about your finance and give yourselves enough time to prepare. Compromising and communication is key.

TIP 2: Decide in advance how to split travel logistics.

After 2 years, K and I know each other’s strengths. I like finding hotels and he’s good at planning the activities. So, we agreed I would pay for the flight and hotel and he would sort out the spending money and activities. Every couple is different so it’s important to figure out what works for you early on.

TIP 3: Use customer review and tourist websites to plan your holiday.

Customer review websites can give you the real deal on hotels, food, culture, tourist attractions and pretty much everything you need for your holiday. We used tripadvisor.co.uk to find our hotel and K used europforvisitors.com to find the activities in Venice.

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TIP 4: Research the price range of food, travel and activities before you travel.

When we arrived in Venice, we spent €35 on a cab to the hotel. It may not sound like much but we could have saved €27 by taking a coach for 30 minutes. When you don’t have the luxury of taking out money whenever you want, it’s important to know how much you might be looking to spend before you get there.

TIP 5: Don’t exchange your money at the airport.

K forgot to exchange some of his pounds to euros so we had to do it at the airport. Don’t be like us! Change your money anywhere else BUT the airport. We actually lost 1p or 2p. It may not sound like much but every little helps when travelling. It’s better to exchange at your destination instead of the airport.

TIP 6: Get to the airport at least 3 hours before your flight.

No one likes to be in a rush or worry about missing their flight. If you arrive early enough you won’t have to. We got to the airport by 4:00am for our 7:30am flight. This was very early but we had time to check-in, have breakfast, freshen up and relax before our flight. Start your holiday with ease.

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TIP 7: See what travel benefits your bank offers.

Travel insurance is very important and you should have it. But does your bank offer other benefits? Thanks to K’s current account with Barclays, we were able to use his DragonPass membership to access the lounge at the airport whilst we waited. Free food, free drinks, free Wi-Fi, TV and showers. Think I’ll get one too!

TIP 8: Avoid using your phone when you are around each other.

It’s so easy to get lost on social media while in the company of other people. This happens with couples too. Doing activities such as playing card games with each other can help you avoid the antisocial behaviour that social media brings. Plus, it helps kill time and keep you awake while you wait.

TIP 9: Familiarise yourself with your hotel location on the first day.

Getting to know the area you’ll spend your next few nights helps you plan and navigate your way around. Find where the nearest restaurants, supermarkets, bus, trains and local shops are as it will come in handy. Lucky for us, our hotel was within 10-15 minutes of all these places and a McDonald too. Winning!

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TIP 10: Embrace the culture, food and language.

We all have our preferences. Whether it’s food, clothing, or the language we use, we like what we are familiar with. Going on holiday means putting all that aside for a minute to truly experience what the place has to offer. Try something new and if you don’t like it then at least you’ll know. Do it for the gram!

TIP 11: Relax and capture moments together.

That’s the whole point of going on holiday, right? To relax, explore and create moments. Share the responsibility of capturing moments and discovering a new world together. Find humour in every situation and don’t let the little things bother you. Love, laughter and memories are the only thing you should be making.

TIP 12: Keep your trip short, sweet with activities you both like.

Avoid setting a tight schedule because a holiday shouldn’t be a chore of things you have to do. Go with the flow and leave some room for doing nothing but relaxing together. No one wants to come back from a holiday feeling more tired than they left.

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And that’s it. K and I’s first trip was a success and I’m looking forward to many more.

Hope you find these tips useful! A post on what we got up to in Venice is on it’s way.

Your Turn…

Have you been on your first holiday as a couple? How was it? What tips can you give for a harmonious trip?

Lets connect!

Tweet me @lydonlifeblog, follow me on Instagram or share your questions, experiences and tips with everybody in the comments below.

Till next time.

Love,
Lydia x | www.lydonlife.wordpress.com