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Monday, 1 February 2016

A Weekend In Venice - Zeena Xena

Hey Guys! I know I know it's been a while since I last posted on this blog and I just want to start off by apologising. As you can imagine I've been so busy preparing for the Blogging Gals Re-Launch and a whole bunch of other stuff. Anyway, If you follow me on all my socials you would have noticed that more recently I visited Venice fort the weekend with long-time friend and blogger Paige Paris. Before I get into the details of our time in Italy, I want to first discuss why we chose the destination, what websites we used to book etc.


Why Italy? 
If you know me you'd know that I'm obsessed with pizza so this decision was a no brainer really! Yes I really went all the way to Italy for pizza, Venice in particular for all the beautiful buildings and landscapes. Also upon doing research, I realised that Vencie was one of those cities where everything is well connected from; bus transfers (airport to town), town to hotel (very close figuring you don't get bloody lost and walk around in circles), and generally getting around Venice is pretty simple once you get the hang of all the streets and squares. All of this played a huge factor in the decision-making process of booking Venice as a destination and as Paige is due to leave for Australia forever *sobs* we thought that it'd be a great idea to spend some time creating memories in romantic Venice haha.

Websites Used To Book...
Again if you follow me on twitter you'll see me occasionally tweeting about my super duper holiday bargains which often have a response like ":O how?" haha. From my research I found return flights from London Stansted to Venice with Ryanair for £30. I was a bit sceptical at first as I hadn't flown budget in a while or with them but thought it was worth a try. From booking to boarding, the process was a breeze and stress free. We were able to check in a week prior to our departure and didn't need to deal with all the checking in baggage stuff as we were carrying hand luggage only #winning. With Ryanair you also have electronic boarding passes so no fuss having to print them out and obvs saving the planet. The flight back was my favourite though, we were lucky enough to have been moved to some empty rows at the back having three seats each to ourselves!

Moving on to our hotel booking. We stayed at the most beautiful little boutique hotel called Hotel Al Duca Di Venezia which is rated 3 stars but almost 5 by Trip Advisor users. Our hotel stay for two nights was priced at only £139.16 which included; a lovely en suite room on the top floor, room service, wifi and breakfast. On this occasion we booked our hotel via Expedia whom I've used before, I've used them on many occasions so they are definitely a trusted company in my opinion.


Arriving in Venice 
From London Stansted we arrived at Treviso Airport (where most of the low cost carriers operate to and from) & hopped on the ATVO bus to Mestre. A number of buses, trains and taxis operate to and from here so you'll have no problem getting to the centre of Venice if you ever visit. From Mestre it was only meant to be a 15 minute walk to our hotel but my oh my this was not an easy hotel to find at all... Literally tucked away in the ghettos which are side by side with like 5,000 building names grouped  together, finding our hotel was a real task. Let's not forget the dead ends that just lead you to the end of a canal, I swear I just wanted to re-enact one of Kanye West's Jesus walks moments haha. Anyway, once we arrived at the hotel (some 3 hours before our check-in time) we were kindly greeted by the manager who allowed us to check-in early and actually gave us two rooms to select from (another reason why I love boutique hotels). As we'd been travelling since 3am in the morning we decided to use this time to unpack and have a nap using the evening  to explore the city.





Venezian Jaunts 
As mentioned previously, if you want to just get lost and wonder about Venice is the place for you. After our nap we decided that it would be a good idea to get some food and of course first stop was pizza. We didn't want to waste any more time so just grabbed a slice from our local patisserie and had a wander. Paige and I ended up following the crowds because basically we're crap at maps and found ourselves at at one of the main parts of Venice, situated near The Grand Canal. This area is full of restaurants, cafes selling pizzas by the slice, sweet treats, and market stools full of amazing souvenirs.







We ended up walking the length of the market and back to a magnum store we spotted. Paige and I indulged in some biscuits, ice cream, and hot chocolates. Let me just tell you something. If you've never visited Venice before, you don't know what a real hot chocolate tastes like... I'm being so serious. It's unlike anything we have here in the UK, quite frankly I'm embarrassed by the hot chocolates we do here haha. Anyway, so it was approaching 10pm and was freezing back outside so we decided it was time to head back to the hotel to call it a night.






1 Full Day in Venice
So for our full day in Venice we started of by taking some blog pictures on the streets of Venice although it was raining and then headed for The Grand Canal again to board a water taxi going to San Marco aka "St. Marks Square". In San Marco you'll find; museums, galleries, luxury branded stores and restaurants. To dine in S.Marco can be a little pricier than other places in Venice so make sure you've done some research prior.


Remember to also bring some comfy walking shoes as again you'll be doing lots of walking around the sqaure where you'll spot some familiar shops such as; L'occitane, Moschino, Gucci, D&G, H&M and many others. We weren't very hungry at this point so decided it was wise to just stock up on hot chocolates for the time being as it was very cold and rainy out. We then hopped back on our water taxi hoping to go back to The Grand Canal for dinner, but ended up getting off two stops early *cries in princess*. Funnily enough we actually planned to visit the stop we got off at (Rialto) the day prior and took this as a sign to explore - which we did. Again, we just wandered about into stores, indulged in some more choclate-y goodness, nutella crepes and chocolate kebabs to be precise and then walked for about 10 minutes back to The Grand Canal area for dinner. I can't remember for the life of me what the restaurant was called that we dined at but I do remember paying 6€ for a large margherita pizza which I was very happy with. 





After dinner we finished buying some branded goods, hoodies, caps and all that other good stuff as the market stalls were still open... we then headed back to our hotel to dress up for an evening of blog photos in our beautiful hotel before we had to pack our cases ready for an early flight. 








Honestly I had such a relaxed time in Venice and I can definitely recommend it for a weekend break. I would however say this is more of a couples destination (you probably already know that already) and may be best to visit in Spring rather than Winter. You may want to avoid Venice in the Summer as it's heaving with tourists and apparently as a result causes the canal areas to smell due to a number of factors. 

Other Tips:
* Want to save money on your stay? Opt to stay in Santa Croce as I did instead of the other popular districts such as San Polo or San Marco where hotel prices are through the roof
* As mentioned in this post, make sure you bring comfortable shoes and I really mean this. You'll need a pair of the most comfiest trainers as you'll be doing loads of walking 
* Always ask your reception desk for help when needed, they should be able to give you maps and direct you to the best 'hot spots' 
* If you're not up to paying about 80 for a gondola ride (I wasn't) you can board on a traghetto instead which is about 2
* When boarding on water taxis, make sure you've already purchased your tickets from the people outside the base (if no one is there just wait, otherwise you'll end up with a hefty fine for boarding without a ticket) 
* St Mark's Square is a must visit for shopping & sightseeing 
* Browse Trip Advisor for best sites, restaurants etc or do what I did and get lost! 

Here are some pictures I took using my phone :) 



















So I hope you've enjoyed my informative post on spending a weekend in Venice, perfect for the upcoming holiday; Valentines Day ;) If you have any questions at all on booking please tweet me @zeenaxena. 

Thanks for stopping by! 



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