AirBnb??? This is my first experience and it was awesome!

Do you know that Airbnb has been around since 2008? I didn’t realise that they have been operating for that long! Over here (Malaysia) Airbnb gain popularity only in the recent years. So, when I was planning for Europe trip in June 2015, I was curious to try out Airbnb. After reading up a little bit I was determined to book at least one place out of 7 cities that I was planning to travel. Are you curious on what is AirBnb is all about? Well, let’s say it’s about renting someone’s home. Anything from renting a room, apartment, house or even a villa.

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Da Francesca AirBnb

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Da Francesca AirBnb

I booked a studio apartment in Milan for 2-nights accommodation. I was more comfortable in having the whole place to me rather than having a room in an apartment, etc. So this place that I booked in Milan seemed convenient in terms of the location and reasonable price. At least it was much cheaper than booking a 2 or 3 star hotel in Milan. Accommodations in Italy has never been cheap anyway. My communications to the owner has been positive as well.

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Da Francesca AirBnb

Our train ride from Venice to Milan was delayed for about 30minutes which resulted with us arriving late. The owner contacted us to make sure everything was ok. She waited for us to arrive as she wanted to brief us about the place. It was an easy walk from the Milan train station to the apartment. We took about 15minutes time to reach here. The owner: Francesca showed us her place and briefly explained to us what’s around the area. I was pretty impressed with the apartment as it was pretty huge and super clean.

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Da Francesca AirBnb

As we discover the surrounding area, it was exactly what we wanted; to be near to shopping places and eateries. This apartment is located on ‘via san gregorio’ which is a street away from ‘Corso Buenos Aires’ which is a major street in Milan and has lots of shopping places.  The train or tram stops are pretty nearby. We pretty much walked during our time in Milan enjoying the view of the city.

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Da Francesca AirBnb

It’s a pity that we didn’t have more time to spend in Milan, it’s a fast moving city with lots of fashion and style. A good place for shopping and people watching.

Have you AirBnb-ed? I would love to hear your comments on the experience of it.

Absolutely worth it! @ Pontini, Venice Italy

When we were in Venice, we noticed that many restaurants that are operating around the attractions are very ‘touristy’. In fact, some of them are managed by non-Italian. I have nothing against it but I was curious in trying out Venetian cuisine. I spoke to the hotel staff and we were recommended of this restaurant as an authentic Venetian restaurant.

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Pontini outdoor seating

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Pontini Menu

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Pontini

So we planned it out and came here for dinner, at around 7pm. Despite thinking we arrived early, there were other people in the queue waiting for a table. We waited for about 15-minutes time before being seated. You probably end up sitting very close to another table as they try to accommodate the customers.

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Spritz and a coke.

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Breads and crackers

Its obvious that it is a small restaurant and a family owned business. Despite being busy, the staffs were pleasant and friendly throughout our dinner.

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Salad

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Scallop Mushroom Pasta

 

I had a set meal consist of salad, seafood fritters and fish lasagna. My partner had a scallop mushroom pasta. For the first time in my life I am having fish lasagna and loved it. For dessert, we had tiramisu.

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Seafood fritters

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Fish Lasagna

I have to say that everything tasted so good, fresh and made upon order. I can understand the wait time required for the food preparation however it is totally worth it.  I highly recommend this place especially if you are looking for an authentic experience. Wish I had known this place a little bit sooner. 

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Tiramisu

Where at: Cannaregio 1268, Venezia. Telephone: 041/714123

Visited in June 2015. How would I rate them? The atmosphere 4.5/5, Service 4.5/5, F&B 5/5.

Don’t leave Venice if you don’t…

Venice, Italy is a beautiful island and definitely as must visit places in Italy. Venice is definitely is in the top 3 places to see in Italy. I am not too sure whether it’s me or Italy is just so mesmerizing that makes me want to come back for more. On my previous trip (which was a long time ago in 2005), I was fortunate to have visited Rome, Florence, Siena and Pisa. So I was looking forward to visit the other places such as Venice and Milan to complete my must visit in Italy. Look out for Milan write up soon but for now, let’s focus on Venice.

Venice is a city in the north-eastern of Italy which consist of 118 small islands. How amazing is that. It is a small island however it has been pretty much the same since a long time ago. Venice is listed as one of World Heritage site. Venice is also one of the most romantic places to be especially with your special one.

Here is my take on what you can’t miss in Venice!

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Venice, San Marco

~ Get lost in Venice

It’s very easy to get lost here so it’s important for you to get your directions right. Get a map from the hotel and try to spend a little bit of time to understand what’s where. If you are a smart phone user (which I am sure you are one) then it’s a good thing. I downloaded a few offline map and city guide on my Iphone6+ which turned out to be a great help. The function ‘locate me’ in these apps helps to identifies where you are at and you can figure how or where to go from there. Do note that the street / road name are on the building itself.

~ Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is the entry point to Venice. If you are travelling by bus, train or car, you will end up here being the main access point. Since Venice is free of any motor vehicle, you will be traveling by water buses, taxi or gondolas. The Grand Canal stretches for about 3800metres till Saint Mark Basin. The banks of Grand Canal are lined with many buildings which are mostly from 13th to 18th century. You will find many luxurious hotels along the Grand Canal. It’s also a beautiful area to check out especially at night despite being a busy spot.

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Grand Canal

~ Piazza San Marco

Also known as St Mark’s Square is a public space surrounded by St Mark’s basilica, clock tower and Doge Palace. Saint Mark Basilica is cathedral church of Roman Catholic since 11th century. The interior of this building is fascinating however we choose not to visit. Anyhow, should you choose to enter, do be prepared for a long queue for tickets. Otherwise check with your hotel on how to buy tickets in advance which will save you a lot of time.

The buildings here are beautiful and with lots of amazing structure. It’s a pretty good are for photo moment and perhaps hang out. Florian café is just around the corner. This café has been around since 1720 and one of the oldest café still in operation. Do note that the prize is steep considering its prime location. We were here and hoping to try it out but unfortunately they only serve light food and pastries which was not what we wanted.

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Piazza San Marco.

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Piazza San Marco.

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Piazza San Marco.

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Piazza San Marco.

~ Venice cuisine

Seafood is a must have here as it’s easy to get and fresh. Spritz is a common drink here in many cafes and restaurants. It is a combination of white wine, bitter and sparking water. Do not skip Tiramisu, yes the must have dessert in Italy. Many say that this delicious dessert is actually originated from Venice. The list doesn’t stop here. There is so many other things you should try, from Venetian wine, pasta dishes, the Bellini, pastries, coffee and so on…

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Gelato @ Nicos

~ Rialto Bridge / Market

The Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) is the oldest bridge across the canal. Also famous for the Rialto market which is a must see place. The market has been in operation for 7 centuries. The vegetable and fish market are open from early morning till about 12pm. This is a place to sight fresh vegetable and vivid seafood which makes good photo opportunities. The fresh fruits are so tantalizing.

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Rialto Market

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Rialto Market

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Rialto Market

~ Island hopping; Murano, Burano and Torcello.

Murano is a small island next to Venice. They are made famous for being a world class glass producer which is known as Murano glass. Burano is made famous for its lace and also for its fisherman houses painted in bright colours. Torcello is the first centre of civilization. The main attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta which is founded in 639.

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Torcello Island

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Murano Glass factory

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Fisherman houses in Burano Island

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A small shop selling Lace products, Burano Island

~ Gondola

Firstly, I have to declare that I didn’t take any gondola ride. Let me share with you that it will cost 80Euro for a 40minutes ride in a gondola that can fit about 4-6 adults. Since it was only two of us we decided to skip this and spend our money elsewhere. There are many places that you can hire a gondola however the rates are about the same. Beware that by taking gondola at popular places which end up being stuck a little longer in traffic congestion. Nonetheless, it is a very popular among tourist.

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Venetian Gondolas

Well there you go a summary of Venice. Despite all that Venice expects about 3,000,000 tourists recorded in year 2006. Can you imagine how many tourists would have visited in 2015?

Have you been to Venice? If yes, let me know if I had missed out anything. If you have not been here, would you consider visiting Venice soon? Feel free so share some comments below.

Absolutely fantastic! Review of Albergo Marin Hotel Venice, Italy.

To be honest, I had some reservation in choosing this hotel as part of our Europe trip in June 2015. Nevertheless it felt like a right choice considering its location which is close to the Grand Canal and easy to find. If you have never been to Venice, believe me it’s very easy to get lost here. It takes about 10minutes walk from the main train station (Santa Lucia) to the hotel. Follow the directions given on the hotel website which are accurate. Do not panic by how the hotel looks from the outside, nearly all buildings in Venice looks the same.

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Albergo Marin: Entrance.

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Albergo Marin: Room.

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Albergo Marin: Room.

We arrived at the hotel at around 9pm so it was rather late and quiet. The guy at the front desk assisted us with the check in. We booked our room through the hotel website (best rate!) and fully paid for the room prior to our arrival. The room that we got was on 1st floor. There is no lift facility hence you will need to handle your own luggage. The room size is average but it was clean and comfortable. You have access to free Wi-Fi, TV, air conditioner (fully functional), ceiling fan, towels, toiletries, hair dryer and free breakfast. The bed is a bit soft for me but I was able to sleep well. The toilet is compact but nothing to complaint about as most establishments in Italy are about the same. Most importantly everything was clean.

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Albergo Marin: Bathroom

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Albergo Marin: Bathroom

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Albergo Marin: Corridor on 1st floor

The complimentary breakfast are consist of fruit juices, milk, cereals, scrambled egg, boiled egg, crackers, cheese, butter, breads, bread toaster, coffee, tea and yogurt. I didn’t expect much but this was more than sufficient for us. Especially having a cup of fresh café latte in the morning is a plus thing for us.  Do note that breakfast starts at 8am.

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Albergo Marin: Breakfast room

You can find a laundry next door and few cafes next to the hotel. It would take about 20-25 minutes’ walk to reach St Marks square. Don’t worry, you will be passing through many canals, shop, souvenir store and eateries so it an interesting walk. A lot of photo opportunities along the way too.

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Albergo Marin : Breakfast

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Albergo Marin : Breakfast

The staffs are friendly and helpful. The lady at the front desk (the owner) was very kind and takes time to explain to you on what & where to go in Venice. You can know that she is very passionate about Venice and provides genuine recommendation. We tried few places as per her recommendation and it was worth it. We stayed here for 3 nights and loved it. It’s a small hotel run by lovely owners who cares for their customers. I would definitely recommend this hotel. Would love to come back.

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Albergo Marin : Reception area

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Albergo Marin : Front desk

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Albergo Marin : Map

Visited in June 2015.

Where at? Hotel Albergo Marin, Ramo elle Chioverete, Santa Croce, 670/b – 30135 Venezia, Italy