VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
VENICE – a weekend getaway
Europe

VENICE – a weekend getaway

I´ve been lucky to see Venice a couple of times. WOW ! It´s definitely a city you don´t want to miss. Adventure, culture, food… It´s probably on every bucket list so no matter what time (killing time synonym) of the year you choose, have patience to wait in lines and walk in the small alleys. To me, it´s the most romantic place I´ve seen so grab your partner (or do it by yourself , because you are worth it) and prepare to be dazzled.

How to get around (find a way around) Venice

If you are going by a car the cheapest and closest car park to the center of Venice is Venezia Tronchetto. It´s 21 € per day and opened 24/7. It´s located close to Vaporetto, boat stop, which will take you to the famous San Marco square. I love (apple of eye meaning) to walk around as much as possible so we always use the People mover (1,50 € single ride) to reach Piazzale Roma. There you will find a ticket office for water bus lines, Actv, which operate as the water ferry network for Venice. And now, welcome to not so cheap Venice ! A single ride is 7 €, it´s valid for 60 min and only in one direction. I would recommend buying daily passes if you are going to use vaporetti a lot (1 day: 20 €, 2 days: 30 €, 7 days: 60 €), but remember Venice is a walking town and everything is reachable by foot. Ok fine, there is also Murano and Burano, two islands that you should see, but I´ll tell you about that later. We used an app Orari Autobus & Vaporetti ACTV to find the line that we needed or to check on a timetable.

Where to stay

If this is your first time in Venice don´t go cheap (if you really don´t have to) staying in Mestre is nice but don´t you want to really experience Venetian life, to feel the romance, to watch gondolas and listen to the gondoliers sing? To be awaken by loud Italians opening their stores or having there first cappuccinos?

We stayed at Hotel Bonvecchiati, NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci and Best Western Plus Quid Hotel Venice Airport. First two are in the heart of Venice and definitely expensive (around 300 $ a night ) but worth it ! Amazing views, food, location…. Third one, Western Plus, is in Mestre and the price is around 150 $. Don´t get me wrong, Western offers almost the same quality, the only thing that is missing is you don´t have that feeling of being in Venice. It all depends on your wishes and your budget of course.

What to see

Somehow we always stayed for a weekend getaway. For us that was enough but feel free to go crazy. Have a city map with you because you can easily get lost despite the signs of major attractions on every corner. We got lost couple of times, being smartasses  as we are „we map the lost“ ( lost the map), that´s what you get sightseeing after a couple of glasses of wine !

 

Piazza San Marco, one of the most beautiful square in the world. There you´ll find Basilica di San Marco, a symbol of Byzantine Venetian history and it takes an hour to see it, depending on the time of year. Remember there will be lines to enter. Also climb Torre de L´Orologio if you want to see Venice from above.

Palazzo Ducale, headquarters of Serenissima Republic also worth seeing. Pray for nice weather or you´ll literally walk on water. The square gets flooded as most of Venice when it rains. If you look across the canal you´ll see Santa Maria della Salute, beautiful white baroque church.

Ponte dei Sospiri is one of the most famous bridges after Rialto. The legend says  lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset, under the Bridge .  The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment, but in reality, the prison was for petty criminals and no executions awaited them.

Rialto is probably most photographed sights in Venice. It´s the oldest bridge over the canal, currently under renovation.  Early in the morning is the best time to walk across the bridge and see the shops and market.

Two islands that I mentioned before and shouldn´t be missed are Murano and Burano. Take water bus lines 41 or 42 from San Zaccaria stop, near Piazza San Marco. It takes around 45 min. They call Murano the Glass island. Check numerous presentations of how Venetians make glass for more then 700 years. Their creations, creativity and knowledge is amazing ! Mr. G. surprised me with a beautiful glass rose. Your better half would love a gift/souvenir from here. Trust me !

There is so much more to see in Venice, this is only what I would recommend if  it´s your first time. I´m sure every church, bridge or museum deserves attention. Venetians don´t hate me for mentioning only these top sights. We will see more of Venice I promise, cause it has a special place in our hearts.

When you decide to sit down, relax, have a drink , lunch or just (definition just in case) some coffee take off the beating path, avoid all those tourist places that are overated.  Simply ask a local Venetian where would he take his wife for a nice dinner. Because he knows those  places are worth visiting. That´s how we found are favorite restaurant . Not telling you the name, becouse it won´t be our hidden treasure anymore.

You will be impressed by this city, no doubt.

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Vatican Museums, indescribable beauty and wealth

There is no words, none… nothing can prepare you for the beauty you are about to see in Rome. I was speechless and I always have something to say ! You are surrounded by masterpiece after masterpiece of every possible art you can imagine. From renaissance every great artist left a piece of his genious work like the Last Judgement by Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel, Raphael´s Transfiguration, Gallery of Maps, Gallery of the Statues….. Check there site (idiom site) www.museivaticani.va  and decide what do you want to see because it´s impossible to see it all .

The biggest museum in the world, which means the biggest waiting line in the world, (not joking), but don´t let it discourage you. I would recommend guided tours, they offer them on every corner. You will pay a little bit more  (cca 50 € for an adult, students 45 €, children 41 €) but that way you´ll bypass the waiting line, you´ll get the most of it since they are 4 hours long and lessons of history and art are worth every moment. Just so you know, you are not allowed to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel.

I can´t describe you every single piece of art, I hope my photographs will show just (definition just in case) a glance of beauty hidden in this amazing museums and to inspire you to take this trip and leave as a completely different person.

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Planning a trip to Japan? Take a deep breath….now….scream !!!!

Imagine planning a trip with two small children (parents will know what I´m talking about)  then multiply that stress by ten and you got it! Don´t get me wrong, it´s definitely worth it but it´s more then I have imagined. And I traveled a lot.

Since Mr. G. has to be in Yokosuka for work 10 days, we decided to take some vacation time (killing time synonym) and see as much of Japan as we can. This is going to be three weeks of living a dream, exploring a country that is so different and so magnificent. I´m soooooooo excited,  I´ll probably forget something!

We decided to see Yokosuka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Mt.Fuji and of course Tokyo.

First thing you should do, before even getting to Japan is order a Japan Rail Pass. These allow you to make unlimited use of fast and efficient Japan Rail system. It´s cheaper than buying every single ticket for travelling throughout Japan. You are probably wondering why buying something before time when you can buy them when you get there ? Well, you can´t, that´s the catch. You can only order it online, we used www.japan-experience.com. You can buy the Pass for 7, 14 or 21 days. Note that the Pass is only valid on JR services, you will still have to pay for private train services. Als0 it can not be used for super express Nozomi shinkansen service, but it´s ok for other shinkansen services (bullet trains). It will save you money if you are travelling between towns and taking long rides. If you are staying only in one town then consider buying local train tickets. Our Exchange orders came in only four days after ordering them with DHL and we selected the 7 days pass. We are going to use it between Kyoto, Hiroshima and Tokyo. After you arrive in Japan you have to bring the voucher at a JR Travel Service Center (in most major JR stations and at International airports). They will validate your Pass and you select the date on which you want it to become valid. It can be immediately or on a later date, it depends on your trip ( have your passport with you).

Japan is famous for their onsen (hot spring bath) so try to put that on your to do list if you don´t have tattoos (you are not allowed to go in if you have it). There are some that allow so research.

I´m a sneaker kind of girl, so now I have to find some slip-on shoes because you have to take them off before entering some restaurants, homes, temples….

If you are from Europe note that the wall outlet are the same as USA 110 V so you´ll need a power converter. Also check if you need a visa for Japan. They are issued on arrival for most nationalities for stay up to 90 days, but just (definition just in case) check to be sure. You might even think about getting a prepaid data sim card. You can order it on the same site (idiom site) as JR Pass. We took 30 days card, just so we can stay in touch with each other and our family.

They say Japan is a safe country. I will do a lot of sightseeing by myself so that is a great thing to know. From everything I´ve read and heard they speak English, but I will have a couple of phrases written and hopefully learned. Definitely like : „Please bring a fork „ or „ I´m lost „ ! Google translate (with Word Lens)  in all it´s glory!

I´m sure Japanese chefs will not like me. Croatian don´t slurp, we think it´s rude, but I will adopt. Have to defend the honor. My kids are going to love (apple of eye meaning) that !

The one thing they are not safe from are earthquakes, so I will have a battery, light and a whistle with me (thanks Irena for that advice). Hey, what ? I´m just being cautious, remember mom of two !?

I always want to see more of a traditional things then modern. I´m looking forward to see all their diversity , from Zen gardens, Geishas, temples, gardens, castles, onsens, japanese food to Tokyo nightlife, eccentric fashion, neon lights….

I almost forgot about where to stay. See, I told you I´ll forget something, because I´m SOOOO EXCITED !!! We booked a place in apartment building in Yokosuka, Liberty Cove. Their hotels have really small rooms, like really small, like matchbox, so we decided on a one bedroom place. We still need to book a place to stay in Kyoto and Tokyo. We are kinda like taking a chance with that.

Now I´m going to spend some time with my children. This is the longest that we are going to be apart.

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