It has been my dream to see Italy beyond Rome, and to experience it at my own pace. I have already been to Venice, but it was during summer (read: crowds and terribly hot). When I saw that Ryanair has a 10 EUR flight to Treviso, I didn’t hesitate too much. Although, the original plan was to road trip Spain and Portugal. Read further to get to know how it feels to visit Venice in the off-season, and how the world needs to have a tripadvisor for booking sites.
Packing for a 12-day long road trip
Flying with a low cost airline essentially means that you travel light. Given I was about to tour the entire country in public transport and a car, I just didn’t even consider getting a hold luggage. I am a master of packing, did you know that you can save a lot of space in your luggage if you roll your clothes? I managed to pack clothes for 2 weeks and 2 people in a small cabin size luggage. I also took a backpack with food (snack comes in handy on the go), kilometers of cables and my iPad with a keyboard that serves as a mobile computer for the entire trip.
Free space matters
One of the biggest challenges I am currently facing is that my phone has no free space. I have too many pictures, too many apps and I do too much Instagram. I had to solve this before going to Italy, because I knew I would want to snap everything around me. And there will be a lot of stuff to document in 12 days. I invented multiple solutions including moving the pictures to the cloud, but apparently the weather was not good. My phone froze and I couldn’t do anything with it. The only chance was to wipe it out and restore it from a backup. All this happened around midnight before departure. It took me 4 hours to somehow make it work again – it really takes time to load it from a back up. But, luckily I had one which was just a few hours old. When I was about to leave for the airport, I had only 4 applications fully loaded on my iPhone and Navigon was not one of them. So the trip was starting in a rather adventurous way. I do not recommend this to anybody.
Ryanair flight to Treviso
If you fly with a low-cost airline from Budapest airport, you will have to go to a little hangar next to the airport building where you would stand in a queue after passing through boarding for a long time. Time it wisely, because it is not particularly hot or enjoyable. <rant> The plane was delayed. Happens. But I just don’t understand why you would let people wait on the runway (not even in the hangar) in 0 degrees for 10 minutes. Ryanair, just don’t let the people exit the hangar when the plane is not ready to board. </rant>
Airport Venice Treviso
The destination of the flight was the airport in Treviso. Ryanair offers a shuttle to Venice for 12 EUR that makes the journey in 70 minutes. I went for the other option. Took the bus no. 6 to the train station in Treviso. I got lucky as the driver was saying he has no more tickets to sell so I went for free. Then, I took a train to Venice Santa Lucia for only 3.35 EUR from Treviso. The journey time was 30 minutes. Totally doable. And, pop – I saved for a portion of pasta in a restaurant.
Adrenalin in Venice
I visited Venice when I was a teenager, and it was kind of nice to see the city be the same. There are now more annoying sellers of selfie sticks and strange beads but I believe these are just seasonal trends that come and go. When I was there in summer, everybody was selling cold water.
My hotel was on the island of Lido, which is not anyhow connected to the main Venice island so taking the public transport boat was inevitable. One ride costs 7.5 EUR. As I needed to make at least 4 trips, I went for a day ticket with a fat price tag of 20 EUR. Seeing Venice from a boat gives the city yet another perspective and I strongly recommend it to anybody coming to this sea city. While riding to Lido, my nose started to run, a sign that I made it to the seaside as it was clearing from all the Budapest exhausts that I am breathing. The boat ride was actually really enjoyable, it was the golden hour and I managed to snap a lot of nice pictures.
The biggest thrill of the day came after arriving to the hotel. The receptionist told me that my reservation that I made through Amoma has been cancelled. Since I was not the one cancelling it, I got kind of upset. I followed up with Amoma, got transferred from one customer service agent to another and was having this desperate look. The receptionist Alessandro at le Ville del Lido was really helpful and reassuring. Luckily, the hotel has not been sold out, so he managed to get me a room although I had no reservation. Venetian style apartment was a surprising place to stay at.
<rant>My Amoma experience has been good so far – until this trip. I have never experienced that a booking site would cancel your reservation without letting you know. Then, I found out that they cancelled it on the day when I booked it, but the email had a subject “Your reservation number XXX”. Would you think such email contains such crucial information like a cancellation of your booking? Amoma, be so kind and improve on your subject lines. Also, it was not possible to enter the phone number, as Amoma was not really having enough digits to fit the entire Hungarian number. So although they said they tried to reach me, they didn’t. Not to mention that this was the only email I received after confirmation of reservation from earlier that day. Moreover, I have been receiving daily emails giving me tips for my upcoming stay in Venice. So, I didn’t really get into any suspicion that my booking is no longer with the hotel. Also, I have not received any refund for the cancelled reservation. Plus, I had to pay the hotel price again on the spot. Although the quality service was telling me they will issue one right away, it took yet one more friendly reminder email to get the money back. If you ever had a similar bad experience with Amoma, let me know in comments below. I really think somebody should design a Tripadvisor for booking sites. Because this has been a terrifying experience and luckily, thanks to travelling in the off-season, I didn’t end up sleeping in the port.</rant>
After the entire day on the road, it was time to eat. I knew that once I arrive to Venice, the prices will quadruple (just kidding, but it was still more expensive), so I decided to eat local. Great choice! I had a dinner in Gran Viale and can only recommend it. Spaghetti, dessert, coffee and two glasses of wine for 25 EUR.
Do you know this feeling when you sit down at a table and people sitting by the next one start to talk to you in your own language because you have a T-shirt they could read? That happened to me in Gran Viale -met some Slovaks who were exploring Venice for two days. The world is too little. I am happy we can all travel.
All the guides that I read about Venice were unisono recommending one thing – get lost. So I did and it felt divine. Do you know why? Because there was literally nobody in the streets of Venice. It is a strange feeling, but you can easily get used to it. Especially when there are no cars around you either. It felt totally surreal. The only thing I was pitying was that I don’t have some wine to have a good blame for getting too lost. Few lost streets later, I managed to find a night store in the Venice maze. The shop attendant even opened it for me and got me a plastic bag to cover it. I felt like in America for two seconds. Great experience that I can recommend!
I saw all the important sights, sadly because of the Amoma issue, I didn’t manage to get back to the city during the day light, but exploring Venice at night has been equals rewarding. The Rialto bridge was stunning, it is still being renovated from the other side. San Marco without crowds was a totally different place then I remembered it. This trip has been a blast so far!
The next stop of my road trip is Florence, where I am headed to by a local high speed train Frecciarossa. If Venice during night was rewarding, running through it during day to catch a train is even more special. I found out that the boat I was on was not getting me to the train station in time, so I had to come up with an alternative. Another boat. But that another boat was not a better solution. So I ended up leaving it in Accademia and running through the tourists and delivery boys with cart wheels to Ferrovia. This little Spartan race turned out good and I managed to arrive to the train station 5 minutes before scheduled departure. Not missing the train saved me even more bucks! Adrenaline raising activity.
Day 1 in numbers:
Number of means of transportation taken: 6 (a metro, a bus, a plane, a train, a boat, on foot)
Number of steps walked: 20,300 (12.1 km)
Duration of a phone call with Amoma: 25 minutes
Happy moments: countless