Archives for January 2017

4 Quick Tips For Avoiding Crowds in Venice

 

 

avoiding crowds in venice

If there is one thing that seemingly everybody on the planet agrees on about Venice, it’s that it is an utterly unique place. Yes, this sinking lagoon city festooned with romance is like nowhere else on the planet.

And almost all of us dream about seeing it once. 

If there was another thing that everyone agrees on, it would be that sometimes in Venice, it can feel like everyone on the planet is right there with you. Yes, it gets that packed here, and avoiding crowds in Venice is bound to be high on your to-do list almost immediately after your arrive.

Here are a couple of tips I’ve come up with over the years on avoiding crowds in Venice that you can use whether you are there for a few nights or just popping in for a few hours on a cruise.

Cancel the Campanile Climb

After St. Mark’s Basilica, The Doge’s Palace, and the Rialto Bridge, climbing the famous belltower Campanile di San Marco is one of the most popular things to do in Venice. Sadly, the lines here can be suffocating, so instead, hop a short boat ride over to San Giorgio Maggiore Island and scale its nearly identical belltower. The lines will be shorter, the price is cheaper, and the views will include the teal blue of the lagoon and the city of Venice, unlike the view from the Campanile di San Marco, which is mostly just of roofs.

Buy Your Tickets Ahead

Surprisingly, nearly each and every one of the major attractions in town offers the opportunity to buy tickets online in advance, and this really comes in handy when trying to avoid crowds. With your ticket already in hand or on your smartphone, you will be able to skip right by the lines outside and get on with your sightseeing.

 

avoiding crowds in venice

Nightseeing

One of the best things to do on any trip is to just simply walk the streets, getting to know a place better with each and every step. And guess what? You don’t need daylight, open businesses, or for loads of other people to be hanging around for this to be a memorable experience.

That’s why I love to go ‘nightseeing’ anywhere I go, and when in Venice, I completely recommend taking a walk in Venice late in the evening – around midnight or so (and yes, you can stay up that late, because you’re on vacation). The city is absolutely magical at this hour, with not much more than hauntingly empty plazas, twinkling latticed lightposts, chiming church bells, lapping water and bobbing gondolas resting after a long day of work to keep you company.   

avoiding crowds in venice

Camp Out at Campo Santa Margherita

Venice has plenty of plazas teeming with travellers, but this one hidden away by the university remains relatively serene and tourist free day and night. Campo Santa Margherita is a great place to relax during the day and catch your breath on a bench, and a fine place to join the locals for an al fresco drink at night.

Oh, and it also just happens to be home to arguably the best pizza joint in town: Pizza al Volo (address: Campo Santa Margherita 2944). They serve up big, budget-friendly slices with both traditional toppings (think ham and mushroom, zucchini, or plain cheese) and adventurous ones like sliced hot dogs and french fries (trust me, it’s better than it sounds).  

 

 

Photo Credits: 1,2

An earlier version of this post appeared on TravelPulse

The Best Cantinas in Mexico City

I have no problem at all admitting that I hang out in bars when I travel, and believe it or not, it’s actually not entirely about the drinks. No, nearly every country in the world has managed to develop its own unique style of traditional drinking den, which often up offering some of the best insights into the country itself.

Britain has the pub, America has the dive bar, Japan has the izakaya, and Mexico has the cantina, quite possibly my favorite one of them all. Yes, the humble cantina, like the aforementioned styles of bar, is a laid back place to mingle, tip ‘em back, and savor the true taste of Mexico.

While you’ll find cantinas all over the country, the capital is home to the highest concentration, and here are a few of the best cantinas in Mexico City, all located within the gorgeous historic center.

Cantina La Mascota

La Mascota has been serving up cheap drinks and tasty food for decades, and is a great first cantina to get your feet wet in. It may not look like much on the outside, but you’ll soon find a room oozing the charms of yesteryear on the inside lined with intricate tiles and splashes of maroon and yellow on the walls. Waiters sporting sharp vests and bowties gregariously work the room, delivering drinks and food with a smile, and the delicious food is on the casa along as you’re drinking. Keep an eye out for traditional singers, who have been known to pop in and serenade the crowd.

Address: Mesones 20

Tel: +52 5709-7852  

La Faena

If you like a side of bullfighting memorabilia with your beer (and who among us hasn’t craved that combo before), then La Faena is definitely your spot. A sprawling space full of vibrant tiles and plastic white tables, the walls here are lined with a plethora of bullfighting paraphernalia, and the bar serves up the classic cantina combo of cold beer, tequila, and absolutely no frills.

Address: Venustiano Carranza 49

Telephone: +52 5510-4417   

La Dominica

Rough, ready, and a really good time, La Dominica has been pouring drinks for over 60 years, picking up a very loyal local following along the way. Retro-cool baby blue walls (it’s not ironic, trust me) grab your attention when you stroll in, and are complemented perfectly by dark wooden tables and an antique cash register. This is another cantina where the food is complimentary as long as you’re drinking, and all of it is doled out a dapper veteran staff of bartenders, some of whom have been staples here for decades.

Address: Belisario Dominguez 61

Telephone: 5512 7977

La Opera

The most famous of all cantinas in Mexico City, no crawl would be complete without a drink here. Opulent isn’t a word that’s typically used to describe cantinas, but I’ll be darned if it doesn’t fit La Opera like a glove. Crown molding, engraved wood, plush red booths, and elegant light make it feel more like a Viennese cafe than a hole-in-the-wall, even though they are famous for a hole in their wall. Yes, legend has it that a bullet lodged in their ceiling was fired by famous Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, and even though some would argue this place is too ‘posh’ to be a proper cantina, with that kind of street cred, I’m counting it.

Address: Calle 5 de Mayo No. 10

Telephone: +52 5512-8959   

 

An earlier version of this post appeared on TravelPulse