If you’ve read my previous post Venice, Italy — Part II: The Family Affair — Arrival & Public Transport, you can probably guess that we arrived there by train. Specifically, we took a Eurocity (EC) train, operated by ÖBB (Austria’s train system) direct from Munich to Venice. There were numerous stops along the nearly 7-hour journey, but we didn’t have to change trains anywhere, and that saved us some stress.
The train travels from Germany through Austria, over the Alps, and into Italy, and while the trip was long, the scenery was lovely. Wooded meadows and open pastures preceded the rolling green hills dotted with Bavarian homes that eventually gave way to vineyards as we made our way into Italy. Even as we neared Venice, passing through a more industrial-looking area, delightful little red flowers filled the space between our train tracks (but were gone before I could ready my camera).
Stepping out from Venezia Santa Lucia station into the sun and staring across at the Grand Canal and the nearly 300-year-old Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo, was amazing. The view remains my favorite from any transportation hub; however, in that moment, our immediate goal was less about absorbing the view and more about getting to our lodging.
See Venice, Italy — Part II: The Family Affair — Arrival & Public Transport for more details about how to get around Venice.
A First For Us
Sparing the details, this was not a trip that I’d had ages to research and plan for. I had not learned about transport options, lodging, or things to do, nor had I mastered much of the Italian language (though I hoped my limited Spanish would help). There had been no pre-booking of tickets or lodging, aside from the night before when I awoke at some ungodly hour in Frankfurt, completed my Airbnb account, and booked my very first home rental: A place with a kitchen, bathrooms, and enough beds for everyone.
Needless to say, as we all stood there next to the Grand Canal, I was clueless, it was nearing dinner time (for us), and we had to get to our lodging soon as our Airbnb host also has a life. Thankfully, I had been messaging back and forth with her, and she was kind and patient enough to explain that “vaporetti” are the water buses, and “Ferrovia” is the stop where we currently stood, and she knew we were on our way. One of us bought passes at the ticket window, but I’m sure they were just for a single trip on the water bus. (Check out my post Venice, Italy — Part II: The Family Affair — Arrival & Public Transport to see how this was a mistake.)
Once on the vaporetto, headed in the correct direction, and standing out of the way of traffic embarking and disembarking, I could relax a bit and take in the views. Truly, the first ride down the Grand Canal is an event in itself, and as I recommend in my previous post, I encourage you to keep your camera stowed and take in the moment. Absorb the experience, but keep your ears and eyes open for your stop.
Lodging & Learning
Yes, the avid traveler that I am was headed to my very first Airbnb. Again, we were all unsure of what to expect and, at this point, eager to settle in and find food. Thankfully, our host was prompt and kind and took us straight to the lodging. Unfamiliar with Venice at the time, I got admittedly a bit anxious when led down a small, tight, dark alley, but I soon learned that’s just how it is there. È normale.
Our host shared all of the necessary information with us and was even able to let us know where a supermarket was located. Also, right near our rental was a little market, as well as a small restaurant where we chose to have dinner. We may not have traveled far from our lodging for that meal, but we made sure to take a photo of the identifying features of “our alley” to make sure we picked the right one when we returned.
Between travel search engines and home rental websites, lodging options are aplenty in Venice. We were traveling with five people, so traditional hotels were an expensive option which is why we chose to go with an Airbnb. I’m fairly certain, though, that wherever you choose to stay in Venice, you won’t be disappointed. Just be sure to research the vaporetto routes and stops close to your rental or hotel as well as the timetables (some stops are only served during a certain time period).
On our first evening in Venice, we chose to eat at the local restaurant, but as I noted in my post, “Venice, Italy — Part I: The Love Affair,” Venice is a tourist city, so any time you choose to eat out, you are, more often than not, going to be eating at a place with high prices or not-the-best food. As with everything, though, there are going to be exceptions, and if you can find these little local gems, you will no doubt enjoy them, as we did.
Whether at home or abroad, eating out at restaurants all of the time adds up, and even more so when traveling with family. So, it was important to us to book lodging that included a kitchen and to find the local supermarket. Luckily, there was a Punto Simply market we could walk to for the basics, including fresh fruits and vegetables (be sure to wear the plastic gloves provided as you choose them), pasta, bread, cereal, meats, cheeses and, of course, wine.
We enjoyed light breakfasts at our rental, ate lunch while we were out and about, and made simple pasta dishes for a few dinners. Don’t worry, though, even if you don’t have a kitchen, there are ways you can still save money and eat well in Venice. (See side note Budgeting Tips — No Kitchen? No Problem.)
In my future post, “Venice, Italy — Part IV: The Family Affair Continues…,” I’ll share more of what we did in Venice, what we missed out on, and some family travel lessons learned as well.
Books to Help
For doing some planning and research of your own, here are some books you might find helpful, including some for your kids:
- This little gem, National Geographic Walking Venice (2017), by Joe Yogerst and Gillian Price, I wish I’d had when we went because it has a section titled, “Venice in a Weekend With Kids.”
- You can get heaps of information about Venice and beyond from DK Eyewitness Family Guide Italy (2016)
- For children’s books, such as This is Venice (2005) by M. Sasek, check out “Best Children’s Books for a Trip to Venice, Italy” on the Kids’ Travel Books