Venice or Amsterdam? After much discussion, I managed to convince my husband we should do both!
We flew Malaysia Airlines to Amsterdam and they were absolutely fabulous, I found the seating in economy class quite spacious and it was great that the crew came around all the time with water!
Once in Amsterdam, we connected to Venice with Transavia, a very good, low cost Dutch airline. As we had a very limited luggage allowance, we chose to store one of our suitcases in Amsterdam for four days. Storing luggage in Europe is a popular thing to do, lockers are easily acquired and inexpensive, all allocated according to the size of your suitcase.
We took the ferry from Venice to Fondamente Nove on the island. Getting off the ferry we had a map and the address of where we were headed to, however, it’s not easy to find the streets, as our map was in Italian….and the street signs were in Venetian!! We did have lots of fun though, and after turning the map around hundreds of times, we gave up and found a very nice person, who walked us to the address of the apartment.
All that water!
We stayed in Cannaregio, and loved it! Cannaregio’s main road, is very busy with lots of tourists, however, as soon as you turn off into one of the side streets with its canal, it is beautifully quiet. With the best of both worlds night time is funky and vibrant, lots of music, restaurants, drinking…it’s an incredible atmosphere.
When going to Venice it is worth while checking beforehand if there are any concerts, as often there are small performances in churches, we were lucky enough to see a beautiful chamber orchestra’s performance of Verdi!
You might also want to check out the performance of The History of Venice, a wonderful group acts out the history of Venice and uses the electronic imagery on the walls and ceiling in this old hall, it’s a fascinating way to get an idea of how Venice was built.
However, you should book…and it might be a good idea just to read up on the history a bit before you go!
Then there is all the museums, do keep in mind most museums are closed on Mondays, if you want to avoid the crowds on San Marco Square, just go really early in the morning…it was perfect!
Then it was off to Amsterdam.
The main difference between Amsterdam and Venice is the traffic, in Venice everybody walks, or uses a gondola, no cars, no bikes, no Vespas in Venice, it is wonderful.
In Amsterdam everybody is on the bike, or a tram, or (if you are game) a car. My advice is to have a go at cycling….there are lots of places to hire a bike for the day and it is such an easy city to get around by bike, there are special bike paths and even special traffic lights for bikes!
There are always lots of things to do in Amsterdam, from having a beer and a bite to eat, or sitting on a terrace on Het Leidseplein just people watching to visiting the Bloemen Market where you will find every kind of tulip bulb you can think of.
In summer there is lots of street entertainment, Amsterdam is a very multi-cultural city with plenty of places that are a must see. Het Spui with its fabulous Albert Cuyp Market, The Nine Streets for very fashionable shopping, the Het Stedelijk Museum an absolute must! If you are interested in The Dutch Masters, of course the fully renovated Rijksmuseum, and not to forget Van Gogh museum, which also has been fully renovated.
See lots to do and see! Quick tip for the museums – book tickets in advance and try to find ticket booths (they are everywhere on the Museumplein) for cheaper tickets!
We stayed at the Hotel Roemer while in Amsterdam, it is a boutique hotel built and renovated within two 18th century houses. The hotel is close to Vondelpark in a quiet street. It was very comfortable and very different, the décor is very retro and we loved the contemporary art collection. If you are after a totally different experience that will save you some money…try a houseboat instead!
We had an absolutely fantastic time! It was not only exciting visiting and exploring both sides of Venice, we also meet up with a number of friends and family whilst there; to meet up with them in totally different environment made our trip all the more memorable.