Venice was a marsh that became a castle. The lagoon was its moat, keeping it safe for a millenium.
What you may not know: Venice consists of 118 islands. The original inhabitants were refugees who fled mainland Italy 1,500 years ago to escape the Hun invaders. Small boats made it possible to navigate the Venetian Lagoon, but the enemy could not pursue in big boats lest they run aground and/or find themselves shipwrecked.
This was my first time to Venice. Before the trip, here’s what I knew: don’t go during the summer because it smells and there are too many tourists. And here’s what I thought for many years: don’t go at all because there are too many tourists.
After the trip, here’s what I know: go in November, but bring booties (overshoes, or shoe covers, preferably a pair that go to your knees). Also, according to our walking-tour guide, Venice has a shrinking population—53,000 residents remain. However, Venice is visited by more than 30 million tourists per year.
So if you want to meet Italians, you have higher odds if you visit another city.
And finally, while I did not get “seasick,” my equilibrium was compromised by the water taxis that we took several times per day. Normally, I can return from an international trip on a Monday night, and I can work productively on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, the world was a teeter-totter, and it didn’t stabilize for another 48 hours. (Michelle, though, hadn’t any problems. So this is just an FYI for those with more “delicate” constitutions as, apparently, I must have.)
Typically, Venice is not flooded. But it was when we went. And that was probably the best part of the trip. Here are some of the images we captured on video. The first video is a teaser, and the second one is more thorough. Enjoy!
And here’s what I noticed as a first-timer in Venice:
1. Take a Private Water Taxi from Venice Marco Polo Airport to your hotel. (Private Water Taxis are expensive—approximately $160 for a 30-minute trip to your hotel. However, after the long flight(s), and especially if you want to minimize your time on a boat (the water-bus can take up to two hours to deliver you to your hotel from the airport), bite the bullet and spend the money. There are many Private Water Taxi companies. We went with Venice Water Taxi (both ways).
2. The Hilton Molino Stucky on Giudecca island is nice. If you have the American Express Hilton Aspire card, you get automatic Diamond status. We were given early check-in, an upgrade to a suite with a view of the lagoon, free breakfast, and access to the executive lounge throughout the day. (In the evening they served complimentary wine, beer, and food.) If you’re considering this card, please contact me for a referral code. Also, since we booked this hotel via CITI Prestige Concierge, our fourth night was free! (The CITI Prestige card is not currently available, but it’ll be available again in January.) This was the view from our room:
3. Venice is beautiful. If you like to marvel at water, light, shadows, reflections . . . Venice is the place for you. And if you like to take photos, it’s a paradise.
4. If you have an opportunity to go when Venice is flooded . . . go!
The sound of giggling adults sloshing their way through a piazza is enough to make the most cantankerous folk feel childlike.
Final thoughts: if you want to minimize your time on a boat, don’t stay at the Hilton Molino Stucky. Find a hotel in San Marco, but try to get one that doesn’t require you to walk far with your suitcase when the water taxi drops you off.
LAX-YUL-BRU Air Canada 737-900, 787-800, Business Class
BRU-VCE Brussels Airlines A320, Business Class
VCE-ZRH-LAX Swiss Airlines, A320, 777-300, Business Class
*All flights were paid for with points. Contact me if you have questions.
Hilton Molino Stucky
Venice Water Taxi
Venice Food Tour, Cicchetti and Wine
Skip The Line: Venice in One Day Including Boat Tour
As always, if you have any questions, contact me.