A Venice For People Who Have “Done” Venice

You’ve oohed and aahed at the canals. Taken the selfies in Piazza San Marco. You’ve taken a ride on a gondola and you’re almost done paying off the mortgage you took out to fund your last visit. Me too. I loved the magic of Venice on my first visit and wanted to see the city again, with more knowledge of Italy and the language.

I wanted to escape the crowds, the long lines, the inflated prices and find some authenticity in this popular city. The good news is that the crowds dissipate the further away you move from the Grand Canal. You can find yourself wandering through small streets alone, with only one or two tourist-couples smooching gruesomely every now and then.

And despite the fact you’ve done all the tourist favourites, there are still plenty more gems to see. Here’s a list of the activities I got up to, to inspire your next Venice visit.

1. Burano

Ok. So we can’t really say Burano isn’t touristic. If you have an instagram, either you posted a picture of yourself in Burano, or you follow someone who went to Burano in the last two years. It’s very done. But get this – Venice clears out in the rain. It’s like the tourists evaporate on contact. And Burano, on a rainy day, is no less beautiful for it.

2. Scala Contarin del Bovolo

Tucked away on a side street near Saint Mark’s, this famous spiral staircase is fun and beautifully photogenic.

3. Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Take the vaporetto and get off at Salute or Accademia. It’s a pretty walk from the Vaporetto stops to the Guggenheim, which houses some beautiful works of modern art. Entry was €16 and you can enjoy the works of Pollock, Warhol as well as temporary exhibitions.

4. Scuola Grande San Marco

The Scuola Grande San Marco was an unexpected gem. I walked there out of curiosity, and saw what was clearly a functioning hospital. It took me several attempts to find what I was looking for before I finally asked, and the gentleman told me to take the stairs I had been ignoring the whole time. Up the stairs is a beautiful room with gruesome display cabinets detailing historical medical practices. Once you have “enjoyed” the diagrams detailing how to amputate an arm, check out the beautiful Biblioteca dei Impossibili for some of the most stunning books you’ll see.

1. Taking a day trip to Padova

Is it controversial to recommend escaping the city as a non-touristy activity? I paid just under €3, and in just under an hour, I was in Padova. This cute, chilled and understated city has so much to offer – there’s no reason not to go! Due to it being a monday, the museums, such as the Zimmerman Museum, were closed. But taking a beautiful stroll from the pretty Giardini dell’Arena down to the Prato della Valle which is great for watching the world go by. When I was there it was equipped with Street Food stands from around Italy.

What were some of your favourite unexpected Venice gems? I would love to know your favourite hideaways in this popular city!

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Three Chilly Berlin Days

I collected together all my friends who had been to freezing cold places recently – Iceland, Sweden and Russia: I wanted to understand how cold -11 degree winds would be. This was a temperature to which I could not possibly relate.

The only way I can explain how cold Berlin was, is by saying that returning to London’s wintry 2 degrees feels like mild, lovely Spring weather.

Despite the chill, I still got plenty of fun out of Berlin. Those three days full could have easily been extended by an additional two days if I had the time, perhaps even another four or five. Berlin has an endless supply of things to do.

Here’s what I managed to fit in:

Day 1:

Topographie Des Terrors

This former SS government base of operations has been converted into a resource, a fountain of learning from which we can take the steps to never repeat that dark and shady part of history. Learn all about how the Nazis grabbed power and enacted their reign of terror across Europe until their eventual defeat and collapse, with original policy documents, photographs and interviews.

Remains of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie

I honestly spent more time noticing the traffic lights of Berlin than I did at Checkpoint Charlie, but the remains of the wall were certainly fascinating to see how Berlin was so recently.

Time for a PHOTOAUTOMAT!!

The fun €2 black and white photobooths dotted around Berlin. Remember to wait longer than you’d expect to wait for the photos to print!

And a Pretzel from Thurmanns

Mall of Berlin

So it’s a mall with shops we have all over Europe… but there is also a massive slide.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The deeper into the memorial you walk, the more overwhelming it becomes. One minute the plinths are at your knee length, then you look up to be overpowered and overwhelmed by these enormous plinths.

Brandenburg Gate

The legend itself. You won’t spend exceptionally long there.

Reichstag and Museums Island

You can go in and spend a fair amount in the Reichstag. I did not. Museums Island is fairly cool. Being very cold outside, this is where I conceded and walked around the Bode museum gift shop. Neue Museum requires forward planning, so I missed out because it was too cold to think, let alone, forward plan.

East Side Gallery

The edgy East Side Gallery – punky, political and a lot of fun. Display your wokeness to your friends by picking any of the punchy artworks

Street Food Thursday at Markthalle IX

Time to eat! Food from around the world. There is an emphasis on German and Asian, but I plumped for Käsespätzle.

Sowieco Jazz Bar

Well composed, experimental improvised jazz at a cosy jazz cafe in Neukölln.

Highlights: Topographie des Terrors, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Mall of Berlin, East Side Gallery, Sowieco

Lowlights: Checkpoint Charlie

DAY 2:

Late nights preceed late mornings.

Breakfast from Bully’s Bakery

Argued to be the best croissant in Berlin. It’s not an argument I would dispute.

Jewish Museum

This Museum is so informative. It is really worth exploring the permanent exhibitions and then walking along the painfully heartbreaking “Memory Void” – an exhibition displaying the erasure of Jews in Europe. Then go upstairs to the This is Jerusalem exhibition. Wonderfully informative – I spent two hours there!

Bauhaus Archiv

A waste of my hours getting there except for the EXCEPTIONAL post cards in the gift shop. The first thing the guy said was “the Bauhaus exhibition is closed but we have a photography exhibition” umm ok no then I did come to the Bauhaus Archiv for a reason but never mind. I spent the money it would have costed for entry on postcards and washi tape.

Rogacki and KaDeWe

I’m sorry but Rogacki was a waste of my time it was just old people eating potatoes. I don’t dislike old people and I do love potatoes but it’s hardly a trip highlight. KaDeWe is a German Selfriges but the food hall was massive and a lot fun, as was trying on clothes in Agent Provocateur.

Back to Markthalle IX for photoautomat fun and no food

Everywhere was closed by around 7PM at Markthalle, but the photoautomat was fun. I guess I felt sad I wasted my time schlepping over to an area where the men around the Gorlitzer Bahnhof made me so uncomfortable because they were shady characters who liked to catcall a lot.

Highlights: Bullys bakery, Jewish musuem and KaDeWe

DAY 3:

A dessert brunch at Du Bonheur because fuck the rules.

A very delicious Paris Brest, yet extremely rich.

Onto Gorgeous Sex Shop for some wholesome education

PHOTOAUTOMAT PHUN near Rosa Luxemburg Platz

More sex shops at Hackesche Markt

I may have spent an awful lot of time in the sex shops because I then only spent time walking around the Hackesche Courtyards – cute little art nouveau style buildings in a former Jewish district.

Dinner at Bonjour Saigon, a barely ok Vietnamese cafe right near Hackeshe Markt.

Highlight: Hackesche Markt, B U Sex shop

And that concluded my three days.

With a higher temperature and more time, I could have really made the most of my time in Berlin. But I’m realising travel for me is now becoming more about enjoying the experience and freedom rather than cramming in as many must sees as possible