Fancy a romantic gondola ride on the Grand Canal in Venice? Or maybe you’re the type who’d rather explore its ancient winding streets on foot?
Whatever kind of traveler you are, Venice is always a great destination, especially for first time travelers to Europe. But make sure you have enough cash on you, because a cappuccino, a Fanta, and a slice of cake could set you back €40 if taken in one of the many cafes at Piazza San Marco. Hey, someone has to pay for the spectacular view.
How I got there: My friend Emilie and I went on a day trip of Venice from Florence. We walked from our hotel to the Stazione Santa Maria Novella, purchased a couple of tickets from the ATM-like machine, and voila, we got tickets.
It was quite easy, you just have to choose your destination, date, time, and seats.
Caveat: In Italy, they use the 24-hour time format, and my friend and I made the mistake of purchasing return tickets for the next day. But it was not a big deal. We just asked a staff to change the tickets for us free of charge.
Practical tips: Dress for comfort. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. I wore a pair of Fitflop boots that were so comfortable. The soles were thick, but the shoes were so light. You’ll be doing a LOT of walking, and the cobbled streets of Venice don’t take kindly to stiletto-shod dames. If you love your feet, heck, if you love yourself, wear a pair of cushioned walking shoes. Flats won’t really do either because your soles need protection. You can still be stylish and comfortable.
Money tips: Make sure you haven’t maxed out your six credit cards yet, and that you haven’t reached your ATM’s daily limit. You’re going to need money in Venice even to do the most basic things like eating, or going from the train station to where all the tourists are. Venice is expensive, like what is stated above. And if you’re anything like me, (not really a full-blown shopaholic, but would like to eat good food every now and again), then you still need quite a bit of money.
Having cash is the best. Local currency, that is. Some of the money changers get a percentage of the money you’re changing. Ask first how much they’re taking from your hard-earned money. If you’re satisfied, then go ahead and change your money there. But make sure you ask first so there won’t be any surprises later.
What you can’t miss: All of Venice is impossible to see in one day. But if you’re pressed for time, I suggest you check out Piazza San Marco, sit and have an espresso, and watch the droves of tourists from all over the world. You can go inside the Basilica, take lots of pictures for posterity (selfies included).
Walk, check out the interesting shops that sell local souvenirs. Buy Murano decors and accessories like earrings, pendants and chunky rings. Buy a mask. You don’t have to wait for the carnival to enjoy yourself.
Ride a gondola with your lover, and let the gondolier serenade you with O Sole Mio.
Enjoy a gelato. Go full-on tourist. Don’t act all cool like you’ve been there and done it all before. Don’t be afraid to be a tourist. It’s fun! It’s what I do. Only snobs say “that’s so touristy! I want to go where the locals go.” Suit yourself. But if you don’t live there, you’re a tourist. The locals won’t care that you’re being a tourist, trust me.
My advice to travelers: Be yourself. Don’t have a different persona when you travel. Be excitable. If you’re going to act like you know it all and have seen it all, better just stay at home and binge-watch shows on Netflix.
By: Katy Concepcion-Wiggins