Venice and the Eastern Mediterranean - Presented by your Travel Goddesses: Stephanie Strickland & Laurel IndalecioVenice and the Easten MediterraneanOctober 21 - 31, 2005
   w Oct 21
   w Oct 22
   w Oct 23
   w Oct 31
Costa Victoria


 October 21 - 23, 2005  &  October 31, 2005
When planning our vacation, the first thing we did was schedule our cruise with the Costa Victoria.  The cruise departed from and returned to Venice.  Using the dates of the cruise, we scheduled our stay in Venice.  We studied numerous websites and books about Venice before we started making plans so we could make informed decisions.  We suggest you do the same.
Even though the cruise departed and returned to Venice, the cruise line did not allow for extended stays in this lovely city. After hearing from the other passengers, we were glad we planned our own air transport and transportation to the ship.  Many passengers were flown into Venice and taken directly to the ship and returned the same way.  Therefore, they did not see Venice except from the ship.  Stephanie snapped these shots when we returned in the morning of October 31st.

We arrived in Venice on October 21, 2006, 3 days before our departure on the Costa Victoria on the 24th.  We gave ourselves 3 days to recover from jet lag, to see the highlights of Venice, and to allow for any flight delays/cancellations that might have made us miss the cruise.

We met in Chicago and flew to Munich, Germany and then to Venice.


There are several different ways to get to Venice from the airport:

You can rent a car:  BUT in Venice, there are no cars.  You must park outside of the city.

Take a water taxi:  Most expensive option. AND you will have a hike to the area where the water taxis are, dragging all of your luggage.

Take the bus:  Most economical and convenient option.  This is what we did.
The Venice airport is not large so it is easy to find the ATVO ticket booth.  The cost of getting to the Piazzale Roma (the main transportation hub for Venice) is 3 Euros.  The buses pick up right in front of the airport.  It is about a 30 minute bus ride.

Please note, there are 2 bus services.  The other is called ACTV.  It is easy to get the acronyms mixed up.

  ATVO = Blue bus.  They have luggage compartments under the bus to stow your bags. (What we used.)
  ACTV  = Orange bus.  Cheaper, but you have to take your luggage with you on the bus.

The ticket they give you for the bus (left)
and the schedule they have for the buses to
Piazzale Roma and for the return trip to the airport below.

Once in Venice and you are dropped off by the bus at the Piazzale Roma, you have a few choices of getting to your hotel.  You walk, you take a water taxi (expensive), or you take a water bus (vaporato)

The main way to get around Venice is by foot. To go longer distances, the most convenient way is by using the vaporato.  Depending on how long you are planning to stay in Venice, we suggest you get a Venice Card.

For more information on the Venice Card:


Vaparato stop along the Grand Canal

Not only is the Venice Card good for unlimited usage of the vaporato, but it also allows for admission into some of the museums, toilets, etc.  We purchased the 3 day pass online before we arrived in Venice.  We picked up our cards at the ACTV desk (orange bus company) at the airport.

"Traffic" along the Grand Canal

The other way to get around Venice is by way of the famed gondolas.  They are an expensive way to travel.  We did not ride one.  

For those who love police and fire vehicles.  Here is what they look like in Venice.  
This ambulance was on a call.  It was moving quickly through the water (note the wake)

  Where We Stayed & Rules on How to Book a Hotel in Venice

When we were looking for accommodations in Venice we had a list of criteria:  1) the hotel had to be somewhat near to the Costa Victoria's departure point, 2) hotel had to be reasonably priced, 3) it had to have 2 beds in the room, 4) it had to have unlimited internet access, 5) was a smoking room, and 6) have a room safe.

With our list in hand and a few maps of Venice, that I picked up at a local bookstore I decided on the area to concentrate my hotel search.  At first I thought any hotel around the Piazzale Roma would be ideal.  They were booked.

  Rule 1 - Book w-a-y in advance.  Even though we were booking during an off-season, 3 months in advance, it was not early enough.
  Rule 2 - Do not expect to find a cheap hotel room in Venice.  Compare prices and share a room like we did, to cut costs.
  Rule 3 - Do not think that booking through one of the online Hotel websites that you have a room.  I thought I had found the perfect hotel at the Piazzale Roma with all the criteria I required.  Then about a week after making the online booking, I contacted the hotel...just to make sure.  Not only did they not have our reservation, but they were booked.  And you will say......"but you have a confirmation number" why yes, I did.  But this is Italy.  Just because you have a confirmation number does not mean you have the room.  Hotels in Venice tend to overbook, just like airlines.  Which is another thing to watch out for.  Also, they do not necessarily honor the reservations from all online hotel booking websites.

So think about it.  You end up at a hotel you thought you booked and you don't have the room, what do you do?  If you booked online, who are you going to yell at?  If you used a travel agent at home, what are they going to do for you half-a-world away?  Why not use a travel agent in Venice with a physical address so, just-in-case you don't get your hotel room, you actually have someone to yell at or at least cry to and beg for help. This is what we did.

I contacted VeneziaSi Hotel Reservations

I filled out their online form with my dates/criteria and they contacted me via e-mail with what was available.  I then researched the hotels they had available on the web.  The hotel we chose was Hotel Abbazia.  At 160 Euros a night, it was a deal for Venice at this time.  They e-mailed me a pdf form to sign, agreeing on the terms.  I signed it, scanned in the form, and e-mailed a pdf back to them.  Sounds like a hassle but I felt more secure with this reservation because I was communicating with a real person in Venice.  About a week later I e-mailed the hotel directly to ask them about their internet access and to confirm the reservation.  They had our reservation! 

Rule 4
- Do not expect to find a hotel with ultra modern facilities in Venice.  We are sure they are around, but for a price.  Expect small rooms with an old world feel.  It is part of the allure of Venice.  Immerse yourself!
About the Hotel Abbazia

For more about this unique hotel, which is the former Monastery of the Barefooted Carmelite Friars of Venice, visit their website.


Hotel Abbazia (photo from their website)

How to Get to the Hotel Abbazia

The hotel is located in the Cannaregio area of Venice. Here is the "location" page of the hotel to assist you:

A map showing the location of hotel in relation to the Piazzale Roma and the Costa Victoria.  (There are numerous maps online that offer more detail.) The Costa Victoria was moored in the lower left side where the large piers are.  The word  "Venice" on this map is in the approximate location of the Piazzale Roma.
The hotel is near the train station if you arrive by train.  If you walk from the Piazzale Roma like we did, it is a short walk over at least 2 small stair bridges and one huge stair bridge (Ponte Delgi Scalzi / Scalzi Bridge) over the Grand Canal.

View from the Piazzale Roma toward
 the direction of the Hotel Abbazia.
  The Scalzi bridge is the large bridge in the distance.
  The dome on the right is the S. Simeon Piccolo.
The pink building on  the left is the Scalzi

While it is a short walk, beware if you are lugging a huge suitcase weighing over 50 lbs.  It was hard getting the luggage over all the stairs.  I had a backpack, one huge 50 lb roller and a smaller airline size roller.  I am not in the best of shape.  Thought I was going to have a coronary, rupture some blood vessels, or pass out from some other sort of medical ailment.  I was a spectacle dragging my bags over these stairs. I had to replace the large bag because I tore the bottom off of it. We could have taken the vaporato to the other side of the canal, but we did not know how to use them yet and frankly, we would have had trouble getting all the luggage onto the vaporato because they are usually packed with people.  Rule of thumb, pack light...if you can.
Once you cross the bridge over the Grand Canal (Canal Grande) the hotel is only a short walk away.  Look for the restaurant/bar called Ai Scalzi.  The street (actually an alley) is right on the side of the Ai Scalzi.  Walk down the alley.  When it opens up to a wider street, the hotel will be immediately on the left.  It has a very small entrance but the hotel is much larger inside.

If you are traveling by vaporato you want the Ferrovia Scalzi stop.

Photo of the street (calle) leading to the hotel.  Calle Priuli delta dei Cavaletti.  Looks kind of creepy in this photo... but not really.  The many doors along the "street"  house other hotels and restaurants.  Head towards the light......

About Our Stay at the Hotel Abbazia

We stayed at the hotel twice.  The 3 days before our cruise and 1 day after.  When we arrived in Venice we only had reservations for the first 3 days.  We decided to live dangerously and book our last day in Venice when we got there.  Our reasoning was that if we did not like the hotel we would look for another while we were there for our last day.  Well....we loved the Hotel Abbazia and asked if they had a room available on the 31st.  They did, so we booked it. 

The room was small, but we expected that.  The room on the 31st was larger.  The bathrooms have been remodeled and were modern.  Our first room had a window that opened up into the spacious courtyard in the center of the hotel.  A pleasant little
get-away.  On our second stay, we were on the second floor and we could not see the courtyard from our window.

The hotel serves a complimentary breakfast every morning.  There is cappuccino, juice, assorted pastries, a variety of cereal, meats, cheeses, and hard boiled eggs.

Courtyard of the Hotel Abbazia from our first hotel room

The breakfast does not begin until 7:30 am so if you are an early riser, you will have to wait until then.  No American coffee here or anywhere else in Venice.  You may need to dilute the coffee.  We had cafe lattes.

The staff were very pleasant and helpful.  They all spoke enough English to assist you and answer questions.  They offered to hold one of our bags in storage while we were away on the cruise.  When we left to the airport on November 1st they suggested yet another way to get to the airport.  Private transport.  At a cost between a water taxi and bus we were driven by van to the airport by a resident. The gentleman hand-trucked our luggage to the rail station where his vehicle was waiting.  We hopped in and off we went.  No bridges to cross, no boats to take, no bus tickets to purchase. 

There are the monastery bells that are rung every morning...... throughout the entire morning.  They did not bother us because we were awake by then.  If you are a late sleeper they will probably wake you.

The room had a safe where we locked our valuables, including the laptop.  Our laptop was small enough to fit in the room safe when I took the battery off.  We had a Dell Inspiron 700M.
The Hotel's Internet Access

For the internet access, you need to have 3 things.  Your laptop, a grounded plug adapter, and your cable.

Your AC adapter for you laptop should already protect your laptop from the increase in voltage (check with the manufacturer) but you will need a grounded plug adapter for Italy.

Bring a cable with a RJ-45 connector. (The jack that looks like a phone jack, but larger) 

The hotel staff will give you the instructions on how to log on.  We had no trouble. If you do, they offer to help you get connected.

Grounded plug adapter for Italy

The back side
of the adapter

   The rest of the photos from our Venice visit are on the following pages:

- October 21, 2005
- October 22, 2005
- October 23, 2005
 - October 31, 2005


 All maps and photos on this website are copyrighted.  Laurel Lynn Productions 2006 - 2014