Venice – A City of Tourists

I had a couple of days to kill after my futbol weekend in Milan, so took the train over to Venice for an overnight visit. It was about a two hour trip and I think I paid something like 22 GBP for the round-trip – going in first class and coming back in second. That is a great price, believe me, so booking in advance was a good move.

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On arrival in Venice, a huge thunderstorm was coming through the area which I got to experience on the water taxi. Unfortunately, I turned what should have been a 12 minute ride into an 82 minute once by rushing up and hoping on the number 2 line without paying attention to what direction it was going. It did not occur to me to check if I was on the right boat for about 30 minutes and I was far away from city center.

But, once I found the right direction, I found my hotel – the Hotel Serenissima – which I booked through Booking.com based on the ratings, location, and price. It really is hard to imagine a better location situated between the Rialto bridge and St. Mark’s Plaza. The staff was great. Wi-fi not so great. At 110 euros with breakfast included, I felt like it was a good value.

 

As far as Venice itself, it was lovely and a bit sad. It has become a city where nobody lives. Its entire industry is simply tourism and the total population of the city is only about 250,000 and one gets the sense that none of them actually live in the city center area. The courtyard that my hotel room looked out upon was surrounded by dark rooms that showed no sign of inhabitation. The streets are charming to stroll around but filled with mostly the same chain shops you can find anywhere. Gondolas fill the canals by day so tourists can clamber aboard and spend the entire ride taking selfies but there is nothing about it that looks the least part romantic.

On the second day, I did take a tour of St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace and the tours were quite good and the mosaics of the church impressive. The two hour tour to visit both places cost 59 euros and was quite well done. I certainly learned more history about Venice than I would have otherwise.

After the tours, I had hoped to take in the art at the Accadamia but did not realize they close at 2:00 p.m. on Mondays.

Perhaps travel fatigue colored my view of Venice – after all, I had been in Europe for two weeks at this point – but I couldn’t really see spending more than two nights in this location.

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Hitting the Road for Eastern Europe

Back in February, I was sitting on a little over 170,000 American miles and trying to figure out what trip I could book before AA changed the mileage requirements on their award chart which, of course, made the miles less valuable, not more valuable. As I was considering this question, I got notice that one of the European meetings that I attend a few times a year would be held in Prague in May.

After doing some research, I figured out a way to use 50,000 AA miles to fly business class one-way to Europe for the meeting and then tie in some other travels on the trip. 50k for one-way business to Europe in a lie-flat seat with aisle access. This was a nice sweet spot on the AA chart that has now moved up to 57,500, which is still not bad. I couldn’t get directly into Prague but Vienna had availability and that is a city that I’ve wanted to visit for some time. Now, of course, I know Vienna is not actually Eastern Europe and neither is Italy which is where I will end up in a few weeks. But, the balance of my time will be spent in Eastern Europe and cities where I have never traveled with the exception of Prague.

For this trip, I decided to go ultra-light much like I did for Vietnam and Cambodia a few years ago. So, the Marmot Gunnison daypack is stuffed full and I am actually going to try a few new products this time around and see how they work. Probably the biggest challenge will be dressing well enough for the business meetings I will be attending. Hopefully, I have enough in the bag to make it work!

I’ll be moving quickly between cities over the next couple of weeks but I will try to keep relatively up to date with the blog and pics.