I know I still owe you Munich, but I have to do Venice first, seeing as this is your typical Kat-story. Yes, you know what I mean. Not your travel tips and tricks, although I’ll make sure to add a few of those as well, but me going on holiday. Attracting all kinds of trouble. And no, I am not talking about gorgeous Italian men, but more like trouble trouble…
For the past year I dreamed about taking the kids on a beach holiday this summer. All my dreams came to a full stop when I checked prices. So when the parents of princess girls kindergarten friends (for easy reference now called mother friend and father friend), who I am friends with as well, asked whether we wanted to join them on a trip to Venice for the Easter holidays I jumped on my chance and took it. Mother friend always fancied to stay in a Palazzo in Venice, so when she found one on Air bnb we decided to book it. A single (female) friend of them – without kids – also decided to join us. I guess if you don’t have kids around all the time, the idea of going on holiday with 3 boys and 1 girl between 4 and 8 might sound like fun – wait no, even in this case I think it does not.
In the morning of Good Friday I packed the kids and the car seats into their 7 seater car and after a short fight between dude and princess about who would sit in the last row – he thought it’d be cool, she just wanted to sit next to me, I bribed dude with the PS vita and folded princess girl and myself into the boot of the car.
Two hours into the planned 6,5 hour trip – yes, you noted correctly planned trip – all sandwiches and cookies were gone. As my attempts to shout a grown up conversation from the last row all the way to the front was fruitless, I plugged in my ear buds and listened to a “grown up audio novel”, which was only disturbed every four minutes by one of my kids wishes and demands or suddenly needed bathroom breaks. This just reminds me that I never finished that story…
Another two hours later – 5 k before the Italian border – I had just closed my eyes to doze off when I was rudely woken up by a collective shout of the kids because the story of “Der kleine Drache Kokosnuss” (Little dragon coconut) had been turned off mid-sentence. I took out the plugs and noticed the couple sitting six meters in front of me having a hissed conversation. I also noticed the car being awfully quiet, for a car driving 130 km/h on the motorway. Yes. Just like that, the motor had broken down and could not be turned on any more.
After a collective decision to get the kids out of the car – one by one, some clothed in a bright orange life vests, we left the car and climbed up the hill we fortunately were stranded next to.
I am pretty sure I heard the driver of the tow truck, who arrived an hour later, swear under his breath after finding three grown ups and four kids up on a mountain, but seeing as it is his job, we all climbed into his truck and he towed us back 30 minutes to the next Ford dealer.
Seeing as it was Friday lunch time before a long weekend, they told us right away that nothing would happen with the car until Tuesday. Mother friend – always the organizer – had already organized for the single friend to make a detour of her route, cancel her planned shopping stop in Udine and pick up dude, princess and myself and take us with her to Venice. The other family rented a car and off we went again.
After 11 hours we finally arrived in our 17th century Palazzo close to Rialto. My first thought upon entering this mansion was “o my god, they will break everything”. While our host explained the specialties of the apartment (one being “the neighbors hate us, please be quiet), I instructed the kids to not move until the guy was gone…
After this rocky start, we had a great weekend and I now know a couple of things about Venice:
Yes, you (read: ME) can get sea sick on a Vaporetto
Kids can laugh for an hour sticking gum penises to their pants – whether you are embarrassed or not – you might just go with the flow.
Kids love Venice – there is so much to see – take the boats, smell the salty sea air, watch a vegetable delivery on a boat,…
You see movie scenes everywhere – James Bond Casino Royal, Oceans 11 – or was it 12 (?), Angelina in a boat,enz….I tried to spot George Clooneys wedding location but was not successful though.
I love speaking Italian, even if I actually don’t speak it.
I love walking through Venice – off the beaten track. Venice is busy – and I mean b u s y. There are tourists, pick pockets and the ones who hate the tourists – Italians. But turn around a couple of corners, walk down some alleys and within minutes you are in your own world. Experience the architecture, and the feeling of being away from home.
Sit in the sun in front of one of the bars or cafes (preferably not on Piazza San Marco, where everything is 3 times more expansive and 3 times less good), order an Aperol and just enjoy.
The locals drink their coffee standing in a bar at the counter and it’s only € 1.
Check out Rialto market. The fruit and fish market is great to stroll through and buy local stuff if you have an apartment and cook. Father friend and single friend are great chefs and cooked a 5 course meal for us, with shrimp, mussels, risotto and lots of other delicious things. Even the kids ate parts of it – and dude is seriously into mussels…
Pizza, Vino, Gelati – enjoy Italy.
If you want to save money, park at Punta Sabbioni – the fair for parking is only 1/5th of the parking prices closer to Venice. On the downside, the boat to Venice only goes every 30 minutes and takes another 30 minutes to San Marco.
The huge cruise ships often sail through Venice. Seeing a ship, higher than the city passing scenic Venice is kind of surreal.
For the next time, I will check out boat ticket options in advance. Yes, you will take the boat a lot. But a 3-day pass is € 40 and that’s from 6-years on, which means – I paid € 120 for something like a 3-day subway ticket. Maybe you should also consider making your child younger, if he or she is not super tall – like my kids.
I am not a super arty type of person. As with some other things in my life I am a bit of a wannabe – I see pictures of my friends on Facebook and instagram visiting museums with their kids or alone and I feel kind of un-cultural (is there a word like that?). After having done a 5hour-speed walk through the Louvre (because when you buy expansive tickets you might as well see everything…) with the husband in a previous lifetime, I have kind of had it with museums. I do like modern things though – like visiting galleries, photo exhibitions and fashion stuff (does that count as cultural? Please?). I planned on going to the Guggenheim museum. I had this strange idea that this would be a perfect museum for kids. But apart from the horse statue and dude holding on to the penis thinking it was a handle, it wasn’t that big a hit…and it wasn’t for me either…
On our last morning, we took our suitcases and the four kids and walked to Piazza Giacomo e Paolo, where we sat in the sun and ordered coffee. Father friend went into an ice cream shop with the four kids but apparently selling ice cream is not big on their list, as they either ignored him or put him off with a “5 minutes, 5 minutes”. As he was slightly hung over and had a headache, I took my bag and the four kids and walked back over seven bridges, around seven corners, through seven alleys until we came to another ice cream shop. After waiting “5 minutes”, I took, the four kids, the four cones of ice cream and started walking back through the seven alleys, around the seven corners and in the direction of the seven bridges. When I crossed the third bridge, I heard a scream. Thinking someone had fallen into the canal I obviously joined the other spectators only to see a gondola underneath carrying a guy on one knee, holding an open ring box in his hand and grinning up to the lady sitting in front of him. Swallowing down my breakfast again, I pulled on the smallest kids’ hand and continued over the next four bridges to the square. As I was slightly grumpy that day – and not in love at that point (yes, there is a story there…) – I was not surprised to have seen something like that in Venice.
When the kids had eaten their ice cream, Single friend, dude, princess and I took the ferry back to Punta Sabbioni and after a quick stroll on the beach, made our way back towards home.
As it was the easter weekend, traffic wasn’t light and especially coming closer to Vienna and into snow, the kids alternately complained about being sick. We opened the windows depending on whose turn it was to feel sick, but I didn’t really take it seriously.
700 meters from our house – please read that again – yes, 700 METERS FROM OUR HOUSE, princess girl gurgled “Mummy, I am sick” and when I turned around she held her hand in front of her mouth and puked everywhere. And I really mean everywhere. On herself, the floor, the seat in between the kids, the seat in front of her, (and in) my fabric shopper bag. I alternated between feeling super bad for her, very embarrassed in front of the woman, who I barely knew and who had nicely taken us on and home, and feeling pissed off that I had to clean up the car now. Dude didn’t help the situation by saying “It’s great though that she puked here, imagine if she would have done that in her bed!” I saw the pained expression on single friend and smiled apologetically.
Luckily for me (and my Dad), he was home and took over the kids and took them to bed, while I cleaned the car…