Germany and Venice Budget

Hello everyone,

I am sure you are all wondering how our budget is doing after our side trip to Western Europe (only a slight touch of sarcasm). It is a little bit more complicated than the rest of our budgeting as 1) we received a generous donation from Mr. And Mrs. Moran to enjoy Venice and 2) we stayed for free in Germany. The long and short of it is we were able to balance our budget to the dollar for our time in these countries, BUT this would not have been possible without the aforementioned stipulations.

What I can tell you about budget travel in these countries is I am confident it would be impossible to stay on a budget of $40 CAD a day per person in these either of these counties. In Venice, after paying for our hostel and tourist tax, we had $1.50 CAD each left over to live off of. Unless you enjoy pretending it is the hunger games and starving yourself, this is unrealistic. Bear in mind this is in low season as well! The hostel in Frankfurt left us with a much more manageable $10 CAD each to live off of. This still is not a massive amount of money considering the cheapest steet sausage we could find was 2.80 €.

With all of that being said, what can I suggest for traveling these countries?
1) Enjoy appertivos in Italy. Pay for a glass of wine, enjoy an all you can eat buffet of appetizer type food. It is really the cheapest way to enjoy good food and have your stomach full.
2) Do not go on a gondola ride. 80€ per person for a half hour? Forget it. Pay 6€ and take the water-taxi for a much more authentic experience.
3) Cook your own meals (this tip applies to all countries in Europe, not just Germany and Italy)
4) Free walking tours (again, applies to everywhere)
5) Street food in both countries is affordable and delicious

I suppose the best tip I can provide is a budget of $40 dollars a day is not a realistic one in these places (as mentioned earlier). If you are on this tight of a budget, head East!

Cheers,
Kathleen

Veniceland

Buongiorno everyone,

When you think of Venice as a destination, what do you think? The most romantic destination in the world? The most beautiful city in the world? The place the rich and famous go to visit? A mixture of the above?

What did Chris and I think of Venice? It is a complicated answer.

We can appreciate the beauty of Venice, especially on a sunny, warm day. The architecture of the buildings, along with the contrast of colors with the color of the sea is very charming. The innumerable bridges and the maze like layout of the city with the narrow cobblestone alleyways is endearing. We can appreciate the novelty of the city, an aquatic paradise. It is unlike any other (easily reachable) destination in that the roads are waterways navigated by boats and gondolas rather than cars. It is unique. It is different. We do appreciate this.

What we can’t ignore is the underlying tone of sadness that emanates from the city itself. It is overwhelmed with tourists, all touting “selfie” sticks completely ignorant to those around them. To try to navigate the streets during the day is next to impossible. It is exorbitantly expensive. It is painfully not authentic, merely playing to what the average tourists wants, and is willingto pay. It is a giant contradiction. The most romantic place in the world? Yes, you and the 22 million other visitors to Venice each year jostling for views of the canals, places to eat, or simply a place to walk is the definition of romantic. It’s beauty is beginning to show the weight of this massive tourism industry. There is rubbish everywhere, including the charming canals. How can a city this size possibly keep up with the trash from visitors that is more than 366 times its population? (Rough numbers, I found it difficult to find up-to-date information but you get the idea). Speaking of its locals- where are they? They are simply abandoning the city due to tourism, among other reasons.

What about the issues with water? We witnessed the state of the city after rainfall. Businesses could be seen lowering the metal gates that try to keep the water out, cleaning their floors from the water that did manage to make its way in. A massive stretch of tables is erected through the city to allow people to walk over the flooded alleyways. Hawkers capitalize on the weather by selling boots, gators etc. You cannot distinguish where the main canal ends and the sidewalks begin. How long is this sustainable?

Enrico Michieletto is an Italian film maker who coined the term, “Veniceland.” Sadly, it does certainly feel that Venice is a themepark for the rich. He also has a documentary by the same name for those who are interested.

Have Chris and I contributed by visiting Venice? Absolutely. However, I am hoping this blog will raise some awareness to the social issues going on here in Venice. We were unaware before visiting, besides the cliché “Venice is sinking, better see it now!” It is food for thought. Are there other, more romatic cities out there? I believe so. Cartagena, in Colombia was infintely more romantic of an experience (for us) than Venice.

A further thought that stems from our experiences here is what is responsible tourism, and how can we ensure that personally, and at the societal level, we travel in a responsible way. What is our footprint? What is positive tourism for a community/city/country vs. detrimental?

Perhaps a bit heavy for a simple trip to Venice you may say! That is what this blog is about. Our (honest) experiences and insight into our travels. We are traveling to become more educated on the world and what is going on, as well as to grow as individuals and a couple. For some they view the trip as a year long vacation, but it is much more complex than that. At any rate, our opinions are our own and certainly not the gospel. The tourists will still visit Venice in droves. But hopefully, something will be done to change things here for the better.

On to brighter topics! I received a lovely message from a childhood friend and classmate, Alexandra Mclennan, saying she lived only 2 hours from Venice and we should visit. We were more than happy to figure out a way to Milan to meet up, and very luckily we were able to make it happen. It was a wonderful day spent catching up (very hard to believe it has been 7 years since seeing one another, and since graduating high school). We enjoyed being led around and not having to figure out where to go, or eat. And boy did we eat well! (The major bonus of having someone who knows the area be your guide). We had fantastic pizzas for lunch, the cheese was so plentiful and gooey it was heavenly. In the evening Alexandra’s other-half Francesco was able to join us for an aperitivo which is a drink and food combination meant to cleanse your palate and prepare you for dinner, or something to that degree. We went to a lovely spot where for 9 euro you got a drink as well as an all you can eat buffet of snacks. They were all very delicious, especially the cold salads. After that we parted ways, Chris and I to make our way back to meet our BlaBla car ride, and Alexandra and Francesco to make their way back home.

There is nothing like a familiar face to make you feel a little bit closer to home. Lets hope it won’t take 7 years and a foreign country for us to meet again.

Tomorrow we head to Frankfurt, Germany where we will stay 2 nights before meeting Monica to head to Mannheim. We are so excited!

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Cheers,

Kathleen

Where oh where are we headed tomorrow?

I know the end of the last post was a cliff-hanger, so I will end the suspense and reveal where we are headed tomorrow.

(Drumroll)

We are heading to Venice, Italy for the kick-off of Carnivale!

This of course was not in our original plan as Italy is quite out of our budget. However, when we discovered that the dates aligned when we were close to the area (Pula is a 6 hour bus ride away) we knew we had to go. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that we certainly did not want to pass up. We are going to catch the opening parade down the Grand Canal which is on the evening of the 31st as well as the morning of the 1st, with the opportunity to try typical Venetian dishes on the 1st. After that, things really slow down and don’t get geared back up until the 7th-17th, which is the main part of Carnivale. Prices absolutely skyrocket during this time (the hostel we are staying at is $16 dollars more expensive per night during these dates) as well as the dates do not really fit in to our itinerary. We are hoping we will experience all the positives of Carnivale, while avoiding some of the negatives by going for the first few days.

I will keep you updated on our ability to travel on a tight budget in Venice, which is known as a place of exorbitant prices.

Furthermore, we were able to find a very cheap flight through Rynair on the 4th from Venice to meet up with my best friend Monica and her lovely boyfriend Christoph in Germany. This was an added bonus to catching the opening days of Carnivale. We have a few very exciting weeks ahead!

Cheers,
Kathleen