Planning A Trip To Venice

I'm off for lunch in a  new Italian restaurant today with friends. It's the first celebration of my upcoming 50th birthday in May *pauses while you gasp and say "You cannot possibly be 50!"* and I'm very happy I get to spread the fun across quite a few weeks with the highlight being a trip to Venice.

Photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash - Venice

Booking the trip was almost accidental. I was actually looking for budget holidays for my teenaged son when I came across a great deal on's website. I mention them not because I've been paid to but because I was so impressed with their deals and have been impressed in the past with their customer service on flights.

A low deposit offer sealed the deal and before I knew it we were booked into the Hotel Tintoretto, Venice, flying from Birmingham which from Hertfordshire is as easy and quick to get to as some of the London airports.

Some friends and my eldest son and his partner booked too so we are planning to party Venetian style which may well include a few glasses of Aperol Spritz (or Spritz Veneziano/Spritz as it's often known as in Italy).

Everyone says Venice is expensive so after the initial buzz of booking passed I was a bit worried our permanently tight budget would not allow us to enjoy the delights of this famous city.

I scoured Pinterest, googled til my fingers and head hurt and quizzed everyone I know who has been to Venice.

I've actually visited previously myself as an impressionable teenager with a budding Christian faith. The city inspired me and cemented that faith which is partly why I was so keen to return.

I remember the atmosphere and smell of the churches, the smell of the canals and most excitingly a gondola ride.

There is so much to see in this historic city you couldn't possibly do it all in the long weekend we have booked so after all my research and surveys what attractions and advance tickets have I decided to book?

Well, actually-none.

We plan to come into Venice by water bus but looking into booking in advance we realised you only get to print off a voucher which you still have to queue to swap for tickets. This can't be done in the arrivals hall at Venice Marco Polo airport it seems so we thought we might as well just queue for tickets.

We plan to ride a gondola again. Cheesy I know but it's a must-do for me and since we've been told it's better and often cheaper to go very early in the morning or late at night I am hoping for a more serene experience than the lunchtime ride of my youth when gondolas jostled for space on the water.

Gondola in Venice Photo by Marco Secchi on Unsplash

After considering all of the options for fast track, jump the queue and passport type offers for the attractions we've decided to play it all by ear and mostly just wander about soaking up the atmosphere.

Food is very important to me so tempted as I was by the many food tours on offer, I've decided to create my own.

I've been told to avoid the main tourist areas like St Mark's Square for eating and drinking. This is fine by me as I'd like to eat and drink with Italians not Americans, Japanese, Germans and pretty much all the other tourists.

I've been advised to look for menu boards in Italian, avoid anything with picture menus and to go inside and stand up if possible to keep prices down.

I'm looking forward to trying the cones of fried fish I've learned are a Venetian favourite and of course cicchetti are a must - the Italian tapas-style way of eating where you can share little plates with friends and family.

I've been lucky in the past to be able to stay with friends and family in different countries and get to experience daily life along with the locals. I believe this is a much more authentic way of getting the flavour of a country rather than queuing to walk round monuments, so you are always more likely to find me around markets and supermarkets rather than museums and galleries.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash- strawberry punnets in Venice

However, if you plan to go to Venice and prefer a more organised itinerary, I cannot recommend enough the build-it-yourself VeneziaUnica City Pass which will save you money and time if you really want to see all the famous sights.

Although mostly we will explore on foot we do plan to buy a one day water bus pass to head over to Murano and Burano although if the heavy thundery rain we are currently forecast during our visit comes along I won't be getting any beautiful sunny, colourful shots for Instagram sadly.

Whatever the weather I am guaranteed to have fun with my friends. I can't think of a better way of starting my 50th year.

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