Thursday, October 2, 2014

A short guide to Venice



Ah Venice, the fairy tale place where people sing from boats and you can stroll through alleys and over bridges for hours without getting bored. I have been twice now and have a bit of a love hate relationship with it. I love Venice itself. The architecture, canals, Italian food and Venice's amazing history endear me to it. However, the result of massive tourism is pesky buskers, extortionate prices and an all round feeling of fakeness. Therefore, I have come up with a few short tips to keep in mind when travelling in Venice so that you can fall in love with it instead of leaving with a sour taste in your mouth.

Food

Italy is renowned for its simple, fresh and delicious food. Venice can be a bit hit and miss with food. You can find really, really good food or you can find really, really bad food. My best friend when travelling is Tripadvisor. If you don't have a particular restaurant in mind and are just wandering around, Tripadvisor can be an amazing tool. Of course, you can't take every single review into account when choosing or you will never end up eating anywhere, but you can get a pretty good idea of what the restaurant is like. 

If there is someone poaching for business out the front it is likely they are overpriced and the taste will be meh. After all, if they were amazing they would have enough customers already. I fell for this during my last trip to Venice without checking Tripadvisor and ended up arguing with the waiter because he shortchanged me about 20 euros and then acted dumb. This was after getting terrible service and mediocre food. When I checked the reviews after, they had 2 stars and lots of bad reviews.

Tripadvisor is your best friend in Venice.

Buskers

Anyone who has been to a popular European city will know about buskers. Venetian buskers are particularly aggressive and rude. One busker called me over all friendly and nice and although I didn't really want a picture with him he was pushy so I wandered over. I got a picture after which he demanded the person I was with take a picture with him. After getting that picture, we put in 2 euros which we thought was a reasonable amount for a two second pose. Just after we put in 2 euros which he seemed happy enough with, he changed and demanded 5 euros for each photo! I stood my ground and said he hadn't stated his price up front and should have told us. 

Don't be afraid to stand your ground.

Getting connected

This is one of my most loathed tasks to do when travelling. I long for the day when you can travel anywhere without buying another SIM or paying extortionate roaming costs. There are a few options to get connected depending on your preferences:

- WiFi at restaurants
If you don't need to make calls or send texts, many restaurants will have free WiFi for customers. If you only need to access the internet a few times a day, you might as well use restaurant WiFi when buying a drink or some food.

- Find out what roaming offer your provider has
Three now has free roaming in several countries including Italy for plan and pre-paid customers, which makes getting data seamless. Other providers also have roaming deals for varying costs. If you are only in Venice for a couple of days it might be worth paying a couple of extra pounds a day, but it isn't the cheapest option for a longer holiday.

- Buy a new SIM card
If you are in Venice for more than a few days, it might be worth buying a SIM card and getting a top-up with unlimited data.

Do some research and pick the best option for you.


There is probably loads more that I can say, but I think these are basically the main things to keep in mind. I would happily go back to Venice and for me the positives outweigh the negatives. It truly is a magical city and one that I would recommend everyone visit at some point (before it sinks anyway!). 

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