After an interesting stay in Milan, I was ready to leave and see what Venice had to offer. This stop was 2nd on my journey around Europe. The trip over to Venice took an extremely long 5 hours. After finding my way to the Milan subway, I headed to the main station, where I bought a train ticket for about $50 to Venice. I was really excited because this was the first time I was boarding a train in Europe. Imagining a Hogwarts-Express-like experience, I was a bit disillusioned getting onboard because the interior was not like what I had pictured. But I was still thoroughly pleased to be sitting after an exhausting trek over.
Once I got off the train, it felt like a dream come true. I walked out the station and looked in front of me, and my first words were “HOLY $!*@”. As someone who’s never seen a place like Venice, I was beyond amazed by the breathtaking view in front of me. The more I thought about it the more I realized I love being in places around water. Of course, I had to take a bunch of well needed selfies and videos.
Prior to the trip, a lot of my colleagues told me I was going to the most boring spots in Italy (Milan and Venice). While that may be true for Milan (#sorrynotsorry), I am very grateful to have gone to Venice cause a memory like that is one I’ll never forget.
Through my experiences, I hope you’ll take away some learnings of what to do in Venice.
Now – to find my hostel. I realized I couldn’t take a bus to my destination. Instead, I took a BOAT (they call it a waterbus)! I was so stoked. I bought a one way ticket for €7,50. A little pricey, but you’re on a boat! Later I realized getting 1-7 day travel cards made more sense than getting a ticket for one trip.
Multi-Day Tourist Travel Card Prices (Boats and Buses)
1 Day Travel Card €20
2 Day Travel Card €30
3 Day Travel Card €40
7 Day Travel Card €60
It’s generally more worth it to buy multi-day travel cards. Of course, pick which card you’ll buy based on how many days you’ll be in Venice.
I had arrived at Generator Venice. Because I was comparing my experience to my prior one at New Generation Urban Hostel I pretty much thought Generator Venice was heaven. It was (as pathetic as this may sound) where I spent most of my time during my 2 nights in Venice. But this was mostly because I was meeting so many interesting people at the hostel that I found it rather enjoyable to stay around the hostel bar. I also stayed in bed and took naps at times because I was so exhausted from moving around. I am pretty much not the type of traveler to wake up early and visit touristy attractions. Instead I’m more of the “let me relax, wake up at noon, walk the streets, and talk to people” type of traveler.
I would highly recommend the Generator Venice hostel. It was very clean with a lot of international travelers – basically what you are looking for especially when traveling solo. In general, I also recommend booking hostels with bars as it makes it easier to meet new people.
Things I Did in Venice
Though I’m a very laid back traveler, I still did some interesting things around the city. Basically, this is how I spent 2 nights in Venice.
1. Hung Out with Random Travelers
When I first arrived in Generator Venice, a few travelers invited me to go out with them later to check out the nightlife. I agreed, but I realized I had to grab some cash to purchase waterbus tickets, which ended up taking longer than expected so I ended up missing out.
Instead I hung out at the hostel bar to hopefully meet some new people. This task of meeting new people was much harder than I thought it would be. It was so difficult because of my introverted nature that I found it pathetic and hilarious at the same time. I sat at the bar, ordered a whiskey coke, and scoped the premises. I was looking around to see who I could talk to. Most people were already talking to each other. There was one guy at the bar that I could say “hi” to, but after 5 minutes I realized I was too shy to be the first to speak. I guess I felt pressure because everyone looked around my age, and because of that, for some odd reason I was worried about being ridiculed. This is an area I realized I needed to improve on – having more social confidence.
So with such thoughts, I walked over to the couches around the bar and sat down. After a while of hanging out by myself, I went to the restroom and came back to see two guys from Holland in my seat. They apologized saying they didn’t know I was sitting there, but we started talking and became friends. I discovered from them later that it was all a ploy to start some conversation. I guess being a female has its perks…generally less of a requirement for us to initiate conversation! (But I still need to practice my conversational skills).
We ended up having an amazing time, drinking, laughing…they taught me a card game called “Ride the Bus” which got us pretty intoxicated. Afterwards, we decided to take a waterbus around the city. Being on a boat at night, walking the empty streets of Venice was definitely an experience to remember.
On the last night of my Venice trip, I also met a man from France at the hostel bar who shared with me his passions around art, architecture, and music. I stayed up all night in conversation as my flight was early the next day. It was fascinating. He told me “life is only worth living if for your passions.” If there is one thing I love about traveling, it’s the stories you hear and the people you meet. Each experience you come by is a little drop of knowledge that opens your perspectives.
2. Bought A Selfie Stick at Scalzi Bridge
I walked around Santa Lucia on my second day. As I walked across the Scalzi Bridge, there were a bunch of people selling things targeted to tourists. A few of them were selling selfie sticks. I knew they were going to overprice me of course, even after my mad negotiation skills (just kidding), but I decided I needed one. I paid around $30-40 instead of the normal $5-10. As a solo traveler, I realized I was not taking optimal photos of my travels trying to take selfies with my short arms. The selfie stick definitely stepped up my photographs so it was worth it!
If you ever travel solo, I highly recommend working out your camera set up beforehand (GoPro, DSLR, selfie stick, you name it). Your experiences are once in a lifetime – make sure you capture them with each photo you take!
3. Took a Gondola Ride (With Serenade)
I was able to score a gondola ride online for around $50 WITH serenade. I think these rides basically requires a serenade to fulfill the experience. This price I got is a lot cheaper than the usual rate (normally $100 or more). If you’re going to Venice, you can buy tickets here.
The experience was like a dream come true! I was so happy, I always thought this was something you’d only see in movies. In these rides, you go with a group of gondolas and two guys serenade the entire group with an accordion and vocals. There were a lot of couples and families onboard so I was a little out of place but I didn’t really care :). I highly recommend riding on a gondola if you’re ever in Venice.
4. Ate at the Same Place for Each Meal
Before I went to Venice, I found out Heesun stayed in Generator Venice as well on a prior trip. She told me there was a restaurant owned by Chinese people on the left of the hostel that she liked to eat at. I tend to get indecisive and lazy about meal choices, so I stuck to eating there throughout the trip. If I were to redo the trip I probably would have ventured to look for other spots to eat at. However, I found the pizza and risotto quite delicious so I recommend it. Unfortunately I’ve been trying to find the name of the restaurant and can’t find it, but it’s a few steps to the left of the hostel.
5. (Almost) Watched the Dueling Orchestras of Venice
Ok, I ended up taking a nap and missing this show, but Heesun told me that the Dueling Orchestras of Venice is a show you don’t want to miss. Check it out at St. Mark’s Square!
Me at St. Mark’s Square
I think Venice was my favorite place in my Europe 2014 trip. What are your favorite things to do around Venice?