Friday, September 6, 2013

Toddling Fast in Venice {Toddling Abroad}

This is the first in a series of posts about our adventures abroad with our toddler.

Our first stop on our European adventure was Venice. I'd heard very mixed reviews of Venice and we originally planned on only staying two nights, but after adjusting from jet lag the first day we extended to three nights, great for us. I have to say right off though I would NEVER recommend Italy (or most of Europe) to any American in August. It's too hot and air conditioning is a precious commodity. Our next European adventure will definitely be in the spring or fall.

  • Air conditioning. It's a must for any summer travel. Don't assume, make sure there is actually air conditioning inside the room of the hotel, many places in Europe don't have it and as an American not used to humidity I absolutely melted.
  • Consider how many flights of stairs you will have to climb – with a toddler you always have luggage, not just the first time up. Also in our hotel the marble stairs (common in Venice) were a little scary for me. They are easier to slip on and hurt much more to fall down.
  • Stay in San Marco or off Venice? We enjoyed staying “off-site” from Venice in Murano because there were very little crowds, restaurants were more calm and our hotel was very quiet. However, travel time should be a consideration. The vaporetto (public water boats) are fun the first few times but can lose their appeal when you've got a cranky toddler and it will be 30 more minutes until you get back to the hotel
  • Bath/shower. We were able to make do with a shower even for Chiquita, who so far only takes baths, because they were all handheld shower heads. That seems to be very common in Europe and is certainly helpful since bath tubs are not universal.

Getting Around:
  • Not stroller friendly. I read it on a million sites before coming and it's true. All the bridges are with steps and you will cross dozens going anywhere. We brought a lightweight umbrella stroller that was excellent. Sitting in the stroller gave her a rest since we did a LOT of walking, and it was easier to shade her from the sun. It also kept her more contained which meant Mommy could worry a little less about her falling into a canal. Chiquita was carried Cleopatra-style over many bridges and in and out of boats. I wouldn't recommend this approach for anyone alone with a toddler.
  • Vaporetto. The public water boats I mentioned earlier are definitely the most economic and very convenient way of getting around. You have to be quick to get on and off, so it's good to know your stop, but they were very considerate of us with a toddler. It only took one or two rides to feel like I understood the whole system and could easily find the right routes.
  • Water taxi. We splurged on a water taxi once when Chiquita had fallen asleep and we wanted her to stay that way until we got back to the hotel and showered. It is very expensive (the one trip from Venice to Murano was the same as two vaporetto tickets for two days) and really not that much faster (15 minutes versus 30 on the vaporetto).

Places to we went and things we did:
I feel like we saw relatively little since we were only rational for the last two days (thank you jet lag), but I enjoyed our picks.
  • Lido beach. A trip to the beach is always fun. The sand is nice, there are tons of sea shells and the water is very warm. The beach is on the sandbar north of Venice on the opposite side – facing the Mediterranean so the water was clean. We splurged on the private beach, which for us was completely worth it. For an umbrella and 2 lawn chairs after 2 pm it was 25 euros. We didn't spend much time on the lawn chairs, which were way back away from the water, but there was tons of room on the beach, whereas we could see the public beach down the way was standing room only on the sand. Chiquita made her first sand castle and both her and I collected tons of seashells.
  • San Marco Plaza.  This is tourist central in Venice and very crowded.  
    • While here we visited the Palazzo Ducal.  This was the government building for the republic of Venice and has a long and bloody history.  Kids who are a little bit older might appreciate some of the history - the armory in particular, but we got Chiquita excited about the palace aspect.  She loved the "Golden Staircase" and all the guilded ceilings.  Honestly though, it was so hot we rushed through.  We did not visit the Basilica because the line was long and one visit inside an old building was enough for a hot day.  The facade is beautiful though.
    • This is the place for a gondola ride!  Chiquita loved it!  We pointed out all the flowers from the balconies above.  It seems that singing gondoliers are either an invention or movies or a thing of the past, but our gondolier did speak Spanish (no English) so we were able to learn more about the history and reality of the Venice canals.
  • Murano.  As I mentioned, we stayed on this island so spent some time each day wandering the streets.  This island is very quiet and we found most who worked in San Marco square lived on Murano.  The glass work is beautiful and we enjoyed exploring the shops with Chiquita.
  • Gelato.  No, this isn't a place, but it is the best food in Italy, maybe the world.  So much better than ice cream I recommend eating it as often as possible.


  1. I'd love to go to Venice. We had a holiday booked and I realised I had lost our passports about three days before. Maybe one day...

    Thanks for linking to The Sunday Showcase. I've pinned to our board.

  2. What a fun time! You are brave traveling over seas with a toddler! I flew one time (to Florida) and said I'd never do it again. Venice looks beautiful! And what a great cultural experience. Thanks for linking up with Field Trip Friday.

  3. I went to Venice last August--it was hot and crowded...BUT it's Venice! I've heard it's breathtaking in the winter though and no crowds so I would love to go back then. Thanks for joining the Sunday Traveler! :)

    1. This year was particularly hot, even the Venitians were complaining.

  4. I would go just for the gelato! And the history, and the canals, of course . . . but let's be honest, mostly for the gelato.

  5. I agree that August is a hustle to travel anywhere in Europe. And the prices are so high. Spring, early Summer and Fall are the best times, just like you said.

    1. I didn't realize what a hassle it would be that it's vacation month in France (a different post, same trip) either - that was the big reason we went then because our family in France was off work, but so many things were closed.