A June 2004 trip
to Venice by dina4
Quote: If you've never been to Venice, it's everything wonderful you've ever heard... only better! It is romantic, beautiful, and alive. But most of all, it is a feast for all the senses.
We stayed at a beautiful, centrally located hotel and had a lot of fun strolling through Venice's narrow pedestrian alleyways. Highlights included an unforgettable gondola ride at dusk, staying at the Westin Europa Regina, delicious meals, and the view from the campanile in St. Mark's Square.
Hotel | "Westin Europa Regina"
The service from the moment we arrived was outstanding. We were given adjoining rooms on the 2nd floor overlooking the Grand Canal. (We are a family of four, and it is nearly impossible to get a room for four in Italy!) If you can, ask for these rooms--105 and 106! The rooms were so big (a shock for Europe!) and so gorgeous that you could have been very happy staying there and never leaving. We opened the windows and heard singing gondoliers passing by during the day and early evening. At night, Italian opera music wafted through the air from the cafe below. The view alone from our rooms was a feast for the eyes.
But don't forget, Venice is a beautiful city. You must tear yourself away from this hotel, and the Westin's location (aside from being on the Grand Canal) is perfect. It is a 5-minute walk to St. Mark's Square, a 2-minute walk from the main gondola station, and a 10-minute walk (if you don't get lost) to the Rialto Bridge. We also had breakfast on the terrace, which was VERY overpriced (I think it was about 20 euros per person!), but the atmosphere overlooking the water and passing morning boats was worth every euro. Some people seem to get breakfast included in their hotel stay, but we stayed for free on our Starwood points and had to pay the big bucks for breakfast.
This is an unforgettable hotel in an unforgettable city. You won't be disappointed!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 9, 2005
The Westin Europa and Regina
SAN MARCO 2159
Venice, Italy 30124
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 9, 2005
Trattoria alla Madonna
Calle della Madonna San Polo 594
Osteria de Franz
Attraction | "A Gondola Ride"
You can get started behind the Bauer Hotel, near St. Mark's Square. The gondoliers hang out there, waiting for customers. Our timing was perfect. The sun setting cast a beautiful light on the water and pastel-colored building around us. Our photographs were amazing!
Our gondolier was friendly, informative, and funny. Although he didn't "sing" for us, he gave us so much interesting historical information about the city, that we felt like we were getting a private tour guide in addition to the beautiful ride. He also gave each of our children (11 and 14) a chance to stand, hold the oar, and steer the gondola!
Although the Grand Canal is gorgeous, the best part is going down narrow canals and seeing everyday people's apartments and homes. Even seeing the Opera House and imagining that people actually go to the Opera by boat is amazing!
If you don't like doing tourist things--get over it this once! You will not regret or forget a gondola ride through Venice's breathtaking canals.
The Grand Canal
Through the Central Districts
Attraction | "Things to do in St. Mark's Square"
First of all, buy some food and feed the pigeons. You won't be able to help giggling as the birds swarm around you! (It's also probably the cheapest thing you'll do during your stay!)
Second, take the elevator to the top of the campanille. The view is AMAZING! You get a 360-degree view of the tiled rooftops and intricate canal system of Venice, as well as the surrounding sea and islands. It's a great place to take a breather and take it all in. It's also a great way to START your visit and exporation of Venice because it gives you a wonderful perspective of the city's layout.
Third, come back at night, when the orchestras are playing, and have some gelato. Truly, you will feel like you are in heaven. It's pure magic!
Certainly, on every vacation, you can't do everything. We chose do skip the Doge's Palace, although we did get an inside peek of beautiful St. Mark's Basilica. If you have time, go in the morning because the line won't be as long and you won't get as hot dressing appropriately. They are very strict--knees and shoulders MUST be covered or they turn you away, even if you've been standing in the long line.
St. Mark's Square/Piazza San Marco
Venice, Italy 30124
We took a vaporetto from St. Mark's to the Castillo area at dusk and enjoyed walking down the canals. It was wonderful to see ladies hanging their laundry on clostheslines, young people cruising on their boats on their way out on the town, and local kids running around the corners laughing.
We had a delicious dinner at Osteria de Franz (see separate entry), and then enjoyed a 30-minute walk back to our hotel, which was 5 minutes past St. Mark's Square. (We saved 16 euros by not taking the vaporetto back!)
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