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HolidayCity Flash April 2014 Edition

Shadows and Reflections in Venice

My mind's eye envisioned Venice as a decaying water fortress portrayed in mysterious horror- like films and books. Thomas Mann's book Death in Venice provided me my most morbid images of this city in northeastern Italy.

I emerged from the train station and found myself veiled in a swirling lemon-coloured fog as the weak rays of a September dawn tried to break through the heavy sea mist. People swirled like ghosts and a floating Vaporetto (motorised barge) was waiting below, as if to ferry travellers to the gates of the underworld. There are no cars in Venice proper. Without a hotel booking in hand, I was spirited away to the youth hostel on the Isle of Giudecca on Line 12.

That's where the dark side of Venice gave way to the brighter side of reality. The hostel window near my bed looked east, straight out on to the Giudecca Canal and to the famous skyline of the city of Venice. That evening a huge ocean liner five stories high steamed past. It was the grand balcony view of all views across the canal, taking in the Eastern panorama of St Mark's basilica and the Doge Palace, all for the princely sum of 18 Euro a night!

Venice is old and creaks at the joints, but that is part of its charm. It is akin to an old, arthritic man, worn away from wading in the salt water for too long. The joints of the city may be old and the skin peeling, but it is still full of historical charm combined with modern vitality. A visit to the Doge Palace is a must, especially for the opportunity to come face to face with the huge, luminous Titian paintings in heavy gilt frames. A walking tour brings the visitor to St Mark's large, ornate doors and the chance to take in tall framed long shots of vistas across the lagoon from multi-storied bridges and walkways over narrow canals. The bridge of Sighs is the most famous among these.

I love alleyways and the dark green mysterious water, and Venice has both in abundance. You can get lost within the main township, which adds to the mystery of Venetian life, scurrying around long narrow lanes hard against early Renaissance architecture, leading into walled squares containing Gothic churches and enclosed courtyards. Venice is a busy labyrinth open to tourists in many places, yet private and guarded behind groaning doors on huge iron hinges.

A vaporetto glides across the main lagoon several kilometres to the long isle of Lido, where several tourist hotels and backpacker haunts cluster on the main northern boulevard. From The Lido looking north one can take in the expansive mirage-like apparition that is Venice, as if floating on the lagoon, drawn straight out of a surrealistic Dali painting.

A ferry trip to the outer archipelago takes one to the outer islands of Murano and Burano. This September day was blessed with bright sunshine and calm, listless water, with the statuesque ochre buildings from the isle of dead reflected in the millpond of the Venice lagoon. This was a reality far from the gloomy Gothic city imagery of my film-fed construction of the city.

Murano Isle is the Island of Glass. It is filled with neat white houses, canals and petite arched bridges. The curio shops sell glassware in exquisite forms, with swirls and patterns — a true carnival of glass. If one books ahead a special tour of the glass-blowing artistry can be seen at several sites. By contrast Burano, the "lace" island is encrusted with richly painted pastel-hued homes and dotted with colourful fishing boats. The shops here sell locally made lace. I bought a round table cloth for about 30 Euro. More to my taste was a glass of local Pinot Grigio, a local white wine (2 Euro a glass) to go with a meal of sardines, olives and tomato pesto on crusty bread to hit the spot for about 6 Euro. Food is more expensive in downtown Venice, except for the ubiquitous large squares of pizza. Surprisingly, on the outer islands, simple meals of risotto with fish and vegetables were budget-priced.

The vaporettos are vital for travel around the dozens of islands that surround Venice, and these are not expensive. The gondolas look romantic, swaying rhythmically on their striped barber-pole moorings outside St Mark's square, but few are used on the larger waterways in daytime when the sea breeze is blowing. At night it is another story altogether, when the well- heeled romantics travel the inner waterways to restaurants or to take in the softly lit atmosphere of Venice at night, with a multitude of artistically floodlit facades of 16th-century town houses and villas, paint peeling from the harsh sea salt and often centuries of neglect.

Venice offers the visitor many great vistas across the open water. The city is a work of art in itself, and the inter-play of sky, sea and a shoreline of immense brick walls rising steeply, and stone buildings create a unique urban environment. The atmosphere that one encounters in Venice cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.

Book Venice Hotels here

Italy Featured Hotel

Hotel Venice Resort

The Hotel Venice Resort was created by the restoration of an antique Venetian farmhouse which has been transformed into a comfortable 4-Star hotel that is completely immersed in a 12000 m2 park. This hotel is the result of the renovation of an ancient country house and now the structure is made up of three other country houses which bring different names: Ca' degli Speziali, Ca' dei Viandanti and Ca' dei Mori.

Rates from EUR 60. Find rates for other Venice hotels here.


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It's always better to do your homework before you travel so that you can plan ahead and make full use of your time. Read about some of the more exciting destinations in the world at


8 Unusual Attractions In Italy
In the Footsteps of Romeo and Juliet
Uniquely Venice
Traditional Handicrafts of Venice
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Bintan & Batam: Indonesia's Secret Islands Getaways
Langkawi — Sports Events and Duty Free Shopping
Kuching - The Eye of Sarawak


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Travellers' Tips and Advice

Check out what our travellers have to say on the getting around in another travel destination they have visited.

If you are hiring a drive yourself car overseas do not trust the advice of your Automobile Association as experience had taught me there are countries you do not need an international license if you are going to be there a short time always do your own research as it saves you money
- Jill O'Malley, New Zealand

When going to Paris remember to take good shoes. All the streets in the downtown area are cobble stone...after a few hours your legs will feel like butter. Also if you go in March like we did...make sure and take gloves, coat, scarf...the weather can change on you suddenly.
- Richard Wilson, USA

If you are traveling by air at peak times of year, it's worth remembering that many airlines overbook up to 5% as a regular policy. If you allow yourself a couple of days either side of your journey, airlines will often accept 'volunteers' - people who are prepared to slip on to the next available flight when their flight is overcrowded. In return, many airlines will offer you a free upgrade, free use of their lounges, a special cash payment and/or overnight airport hotel stay and/or free meal vouchers. Ask at check-in whether the airline requires any 'volunteers'.
- Mike Hollingsworth, UK

If one or more persons are traveling together bypass the transfers that are offered with packages and get a limo from the airport limo service counters. Then you will be not first on last off the bus and if there are at least 2 of you the price is sometimes cheaper.
- Gail Davis, OZ

Be very careful driving country roads especially at Y intersections. Stay at an old castle out of the main cities - there is much to explore on the grounds and in the surrounding area.
- Donita Simmons, USA

Traveling in Malaysia is really fun. To me, backpacking is best in Sarawak BUT it can only be enjoyed if you:

1) Travel Light --> Avoid traveling with too much clothes & leave your IRON behind. Sarawakians are wonderful and can provide u with iron if need be.

2) Do not forget your handy cam because there'll be so many awesome events.

3)Please visit the longhouses especially during gawai. The experience is unforgettable.

4)Do not worry about where to eat. There are amazing eating outlets everywhere.

5) Contact the tourism board to make arrangement for tours and a group mountain-climbing trip.

6) Check out the beach...

Remember, taking a trip around the east of Malaysia is worth a try. If you do, you'll be glad you did. Happy holiday!
- Amadi Esther, M'sia

After freezing with a 4 hour layover at the La Airport, I vowed I would never travel anywhere again without a sleeping bag and a good book. I bought a sleeping bag that fold in to a 8 inch square which fits neatly into my hand luggage. Layovers? No worries, now I snuggle up in my sleeping bag with my book in comfort!
- Gaylene Temple, OZ

I don't know how many of you people likes to take photographs when u go traveling but in my case, I always have two or three extra fully-charged batteries in my pouch. This is to ensure that I can take as many photographs I like without worrying when the battery will go flat. I'm sure everyone likes to have nice photographs to show friends and families, so do keep extra batteries with you when u travel so u do not have to worry. Happy Travelling!
- Joanne Lee, Malaysia

  Click on the categories below for more travel tips:  


Getting Around

Cultures & Customs

Family Friendly

Medicine & Health

Things to Do

Eating Out

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Safety Advisory


Do you have any tip or anecdote on traveling that you’d like to share with us? If so, write and tell us at If it is interesting, we’ll feature it under our Travel Tips! Just make sure you include your name or pseudonym and which country you’re from!

Other Travel Essentials

Before You Go ... planning & preparations before going on your holiday.

While on Holiday ... what to look out for while being on your holiday.

The Other Side of Travel ... travel anecdotes submitted by our readers.

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