Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Travel Notes - Venice, Italy

To celebrate our younger daughter finishing high school and because our kids are going to be scattered around the world in a few months, we decided to spend 3 weeks as a family traveling through the Balkans.

I believe that parenting requires both quality and quantity time [I picked this idea up from Mark Oestreicher] and this requires that sometimes, you and your kids go on a trip somewhere. And travel is one of the best way people learn important things: navigating the unknown, solving problems, resiliency, and of course, the world is a big place to see.

Below are some travel notes in case you are interested in trying the same thing or visiting these specific places.

+ The Journey
Fly into Venice, Italy.
Take a train from Venice, Italy to Trieste, Italy.
Take a shuttle from Trieste, Italy to Umag, Croatia.
Pick up a rental car in Umag, Croatia. Renting a car for driving in more than one country was very expensive compared to just staying in the same country and I'm not much of a boat person, which is why we did the train and shuttle. It would have been easier to take a ferry from Venice to Umag.
Drive down the coast of Croatia, stopping along the way, eventually to Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Fly from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Athens, Greece.
Pick up a rental car and drive from Athens, Greece to Corinth.
Drive from Corinth to Spetses.
Spend a few days in Spetses.
Drive back to Athens.
Spend a few days with youth and community leadership dev org in Athens, Greece.

Venice is one of those bucket list cities, you really must see it. But it was very, very crowded - there were times where the smaller, tighter streets were jam packed with people. We stayed in an Airbnb right in the middle of the city and loved being able to do that. We also went to Murano for an afternoon. We were fortunate enough to have an old friend who lives in Venice and just started a lifestyle and travel curation service so she gave us great tips and advice. Like connecting us with a great gondolier - a gondola ride is a must.

Skip going in San Marco Basillica. Going in the Bell Tower is worth it when not crowded but you might want to try going to the roof of T Fondaco dei Tedeschi instead. Lots of places to eat cheap so take advantage of that and cicchetti is their version of small plates. Some of the places in San Marco Square that have live musicians charge you money for that, so do it only if you really want to. You can get to Venice on a boat directly from the Venice airport. There are tons of fresh food markets right near the Rialto Bridge but go in there in the morning. Spend an afternoon just wandering around, getting lost. If you have more time, take a vaperetto, which is the public waterbus, ride to Murano and watch the glass blowing demonstration in Ex Chiesa Santa Chiara. There is nothing like a gondola ride in Venice. Mestre is a neighborhood on the Venice mainland is starting to open up lots of hostels and hotels and the Venezia Mestre train station is right there. Join Genius Card Lifestyle, run by one of my local friends, for some local discounts.

One morning, I was walking behind this delivery man. His cart looks like an expanded hand truck, a bit wider with two extra smaller wheels by extension off the front. He will use those smaller wheels to help get over the many steps in this city - all those lovely bridges have steps. It made me realize that for all the beauty and novelty, transporting stuff in this city is difficult. Stuff like my luggage. Or if you run a retail store or a cafe, materials to run your business, which must come via boat and then to a delivery man and his cart like the one I was following. Our friends told us most restaurants get their deliveries in the middle of the night when the streets and waterways are clear of tourists. Some of us are aware of some of the logistical challenges in the developing world and this is a similar example - very expensive and laborious transportation costs.

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