27 August 2008

More On Venice

I thought I would add a few more pictures of Venice in addition to the ones posted by Liz yesterday.

And one additional point . . .
Please don’t feed the pigeons . . . one of the little bleeders squirted me with some bodily fluid from a ledge in St Marks square!

Other than the pigeons the other major warning for any potential visitors to Venice is the cost. . . It’s easily the most expensive place we’ve ever been to, far more expensive than London or New York. Particularly if you want to eat or drink anywhere near St Marks square or on the Grand Canal at the Rialto Bridge. Be sure to check for hidden charges such as cover charges, bread charge, live music charge (if there is a band) and of course the obligatory service charge and tip! A good rule of thumb is if it has a sign outside saying Tourist Menu or Menu Turistico then you are probably be going to be paying over the odds for low quality food.

Two places that we can highly recommend for great food and service are Bancogiro in the Rialto market and Ristorante da Raffaele. The best bar we found was probably Muro which had great crowd and drinks at reasonable prices (for Venice!!!)

26 August 2008

Long Weekend in Venice

Si and I have just come back from a long weekend in Venice which was a birthday and wedding present from me to Si. We had a lovely time. The weather was great so we actually managed to see some blue skies and feel some heat from the sun for the first time in ages! We stayed in a great hotel called the Hotel Ai Do Mori. It is literally just behind St Mark's and we had the 'Painter's Room', Room 11, which has it's own roof top terrace with amazing views over St Mark's and the Bell Tower. It was quite noisy when all the various bells were rung nearby, but it all added to the atmosphere. We spent our days enjoying just wandering around the tiny alleyways and bridges around Venice and sightseeing along the way. The views from the top of St Mark's Campanile were amazing, the Doge's Palace was great and we really enjoyed the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. We didn't enjoy the journey from the airport by ferry, it took ages and was very choppy! We did however enjoy all of the lovely food - pasta, pizza and delicious ice-cream, good job we did so much walking to burn it all off. The next time we head off in November for the big trip we won't be coming back!

St Mark's Campanile (Bell Tower)
Detail of St Mark's frontage
Venitian Masks for Sale

13 August 2008

The Wonders Of The World Wide Web And The Sunday Times

When you’re planning a trip like this (or in fact any trip) the web is a wonderful resource. It just makes things so much easier to plan and arrange. A lot of websites now have review and feedback sections so you can get a real idea of other people’s thoughts on places before you book or go.

The daddy of the travel review websites is TripAdvisor and we use this a lot. However; you have to treat some of the reviews with a pinch of salt!

Some other great travel planning and booking websites we use are Opodo, Expedia and Travel Supermarket which are good general purpose ones for flights and hotels. More specific for flights are Sky Scanner (which has a great route mapping feature), Kayak and Airline Route Maps (does exactly what is says on the tin). For absolutely anything to do with train travel you just can’t get any better than Seat 61.

We also use a website that is set up and run by Lonely Planet (whose guide books are our favourites) called the Thorn Tree. Thorn Tree is a forum where all sorts of travel related information, issues, advice, hints and tips are discussed. It’s a fantastic knowledge base and if you can’t find a solution to a particular question you can post one yourself (no matter how obscure) and other users will answer.

We’ve even resorted to the Sunday Times news paper for advice and help. This was published last Sunday . . .

07 August 2008

3 Months And Counting

Just under 3 months to go now. . . We can’t wait and are starting to make more and more preparations for the “big off”.

We’ve both been injected with various nasty things to prepare us for what the world can throw in our direction. Our final jab was for Yellow Fever last week. We went together for moral support as both of us have an irrational fear of needles. The injection itself wasn’t too bad but it’s had some delayed side effects on me. I’ve been suffering with a slightly mashed-up head for the last 3 days and it feels like my eyes are slightly too big for their sockets!!!

Our schedule which is shown on the left hand side of the blog is now falling into place and more of our friends are making plans to meet up with us in various locations. As Liz highlighted in the last entry Paul, Nic and Sarah might come out and see us in Koh Phangan for New Year. We're also planning to meet up with Anne when we are in Chang Mai. One of Anne’s friends Grat will be over there teaching English so we are all going to meet up for a couple of weeks. June and Brett have also said that they would like to join us at some point.

The big surprise though is that my Mom and Dad are coming out to join us in Singapore. They have never flown long haul before or been out of Europe. We’re really excited that they will be coming out to see us and experience somewhere that will be so different to anywhere they’ve been before.

Liz’s friend Allison, who’s currently living in Johannesburg South Africa, has also told us to look her up when we are there so she can show us around. She's also offered us sleeping space at her house, which is very kind of her . . . Although I think she may change her mind after she sees the mess we are in after 10 or 11 months of travelling!