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Trekker’s Hostel Highlights: Generator, Venice, Italy

Located on the waterfront of the island of Giudecca, the Generator Hostel in Venice is perfectly set. Most rooms overlook the main canal of Venice with San Marco’s square just a short vaporreto stop away. In addition it is much cheaper on the island vs across the canal, a coffee in San Marco can go for around 5 euros, just for a simple coffee…

The dorm rooms are large and the beds are comfortable with your own light. There are lockers under the bed and the bathrooms are clean and spacious with fantastic showers.

The staff are friendly and knowledgable on all things Venetian. There is a buffet breakfast available every morning for a small fee or you can purchase a cooked breakfast for a little more. They also offer meals at a VERY reasonable price in the evenings and then of course there is the Generator Bar (they don’t water down the liquor here!).

An important suggestion: when you purchase your first vaporreto ticket to get to the hostel ask for the multi day passes, from 1 to 5 days. It will be much better value as each vaporreto costs 7 euros with only about an hour to reuse and they do check the tickets randomly and give a hefty fine if they discover someone with out a valid ticket.

Grand Canal: also with your vaporreto ticket you can take a tour of the grand canal, I recommend it at sunset.

Be sure to keep an eye out in the early mornings and evenings when the cruise ships come in and out! They are very impressive with the great backdrop of San Marco square.

MSC Poesia

MSC Lirica

All in a great hostel when staying in Venice, cheaper than most places and with a fantastic location!!!

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Italy, Travel

 

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Merchant of Venice… part 2

Exploring The Glass Island of Murano

We spent the morning getting lost in the allies of Venice trying to find our way to the vaporetto stop on the other side of San Marco square. Seemed easy enough but we kept hitting dead ends or canals with no bridges, all rather amusing…

Exploring and getting lost amongst the canals and tiny streets

Exploring and getting lost amongst the canals and tiny streets

Finally we made it to the vaporetto and then we were off, past cemetery island

Cemetery Island

Cemetery Island

And on to Murano famous for it’s glass:

Hello Murano Island

Hello Murano Island

Murano Glass

Murano Glass

exploring with new friends

exploring with new friends

There are beautiful works of Glass everywhere…

Even a giant glass star like ornament, with pigeons making themselves comfortable amongst the shards…

Visiting Old Friends

All too soon it was time for me to dash off as my first cruise ship, MSC Lirica, and favorite cruise director, Richard, was in port and I hoped to catch up with a few friends.

MSC Lirica

MSC Lirica

Unfortunately it happened to be the day the big bosses were onboard and so after waiting 2 hours I had to just send Richard greetings via message, hopefully next time. I did get to see a few friends I didn’t even know where there though, so that made up for it.
Erik from photo who worked with me on Fantasia

Emilie from excursions worked with me on Fantasia

View from Hostel Window

Ultimately the hostel I chose was in an even better location than I thought. Generator Hostel Venice is located across the canal from San Marco Square and also with a direct view of the main cruise ship canal to get into the city. So when I returned in the evening I looked out the window and there she was, my beloved first ship, MSC Lirica, sailing right past the window:

An Amusing Experience

The day before my exploration buddy, Tayllor, who I met in the hostel, and I headed to San Marco for adventure and in search of something to eat. Tayllor had heard good things about this cute little bar called Harry’s Bar. We weaved in and out the little streets following the GPS on her phone only to realise we had walked right past it, it was that small. Turning round we headed back until the GPS beeped, still a bit confused as to where it was or where the entrance was. Finally we found it and headed in, dinner wasn’t being served for an hour or so, so we decided to come back, it did look quite quaint…

(I did have the urge to ask to look at the menu, but pushed it aside)

Returning later (again had the urge to ask for the menu before being seated but pushed it aside, it couldn’t be that expensive) on we were shown to a tiny table squished up next to another family and handed menus. As the waiter handed us the menus he asked if we wanted a Bellini, the house special drink and famous in Venice. Sure we said….. then we opened the menu…

I honestly think my vision blurred, my breathing became rapid and shallow, I was light headed and possibly had a pain in my chest… but not a heart attack more like a price attack… The Bellini, which came in a small nondescript glass, was €23, and the cheapest thing for food was a €27 cheese sandwich!

Tayllor and I both looked at each other, quickly decided to say the hostel just called and there was a problem. The waiter had already opened a bottle of water (too afraid to even ask how much that was), we hurriedly made excuses and offered to pay for the water. This must be a common reaction as the waiter just waived us off. Tayllor nearly took the tablecloth with her as we made a mad dash for the door. Felt like we had just robbed a bank or something… too funny.

Turns out Harry’s Bar was a favorite of Hemmingway’s and their prices reflect it!

An Evening Treat

Keeping that in mind this evening I tentatively asked to see a menu at this fabulous little place near the hostel, on the island across the water from San Marco Square (apparently the square has some sort of inflation effect on prices). It was expensive but affordable and I thought “what the hell, you only live once”. Please note this attitude only works on AFFORDABLE prices.

The view made the €39 worth every penny!

A great day, a great evening and a great meal. The plan for the final morning.. wake up early and explore BEFORE the tourists arrive!

Venice Touristless

Waking up at 7am, I grabbed a quick breakfast at the hostel, moved my bags into the storage room and was on the Vaporreto before 8am. I walked around for an hour and saw maybe 20 people, the shops were closed so you could really enjoy the feel of Venice without the urge to buy. At 9am as I entered San Marco Square the bells rang and somewhere a gate must have opened because thousands of tourists arrived at the same time.

Tip: Definitely explore Venice in the early morning!!!

Here are a few of my favorite pics from a Fabulous city:

Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs

Masks

Masks

More Masks

More Masks

Goodnight Venice

Goodnight Venice

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2015 in Travel

 

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The Merchant of Venice….

All to soon it was time to say farewell to my incredible friend and go explore my next stop, Venice. Slovenia is a place I definitely hope to return someday.

Merchant of Venice

This was my very first Shakespeare we studied in school and ever since then I have been interested in Venice and the strange aura that seems to surround this unique old city, believed to date back to the year 421. Sited on a group of 118 islands in what was originally a marshy plain, the present day Venice is truly spectacular, and is one of the few places that definitely lives up to all the hype and expectations.

It was so amazing, I am just going to post some of my favorite photos:

Vaporetto's on the canal

Vaporetta’s on the canal

Stunning buildings

Stunning buildings

Gondolas

Gondolas

gates

gates

Artwork in arches

Artwork in arches

.

.

.

.

More Gondolas

More Gondolas

Burger King Venetian Style

Burger King Venetian Style

Note Blue Sign - Gondolas only

Note Blue Sign – Gondolas only

Sun Setting over Venice

Sun Setting over Venice

All of this was on day 1!!!! Day 2 will include a trip to the famous Glass island, Murano and much more!

Some tips:
*When you arrive in Venice before you buy your first Vaporetto (the Venice version of a taxi) be sure to pick up a ticket that lasts for 2-5 days, depending on how long you are staying. Otherwise each time you take a vaporetto it costs 7 euros and only lasts for 1 hour.

*I stayed on the island opposite San Marco square, much cheaper and you get a great view (photos to follow).

*The first day we took the vaporetto that travels up the main canal, as good as any tour you pay for and you can do it as often as you like, all for the price of your vaporetto pass.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Travel

 

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The Evil that is.. dah dah dah…. Separate Tickets (insert scream here)

Background

Whenever I travel I have always bought tickets together and it all seemed to flow so nicely. If there was a screw up or a delay, no problem the airline gave you a hotel or meal voucher.

But during my attempt to fly to Venice to start my next contract on the cruise ship I experience the horror that comes when tickets are purchased separately and for airlines that are not partners.

And it Begins…

Checking in was a breeze, although some sweet talk was required as my bag was overweight but, hey, I am on a seaman’s ticket. They checked my bags all the way to Venice, even though the tickets were separate. However, they couldn’t give me my boarding passes but all I had to do was pick them up at the kiosk, no problem. She also casually informed me that, due to San Francisco’s infamous fog, flights were delayed but again, no problem, I should make my flight.

Waiting in the lounge the emails from United Air went something like this:
Your 10.30am flight is delayed to 11.30am
Now your 10.30am flight is delayed to 1.19pm
oh wait we mean 12.30pm

Ultimately we left at 1.30pm, but with the absolute assurance from all involved that making my 3.30pm flight would be a snap. When we landed I had just over an hour and all I had to do was jog over to Air France, grab my boarding passes and head to the gate. No Problem!!!

Marathons
Let’s rephrase shall we: I RAN down through the domestic terminal to the international terminal that was “right next door” and tried to find the Air France counter. I finally got directions and sprinted dragging my carry on behind me. Rounding the corner to the Air France counter I discovered nothing… no-one….nada…. the counter was closed, with still an hour till the flight. I tried the kiosk but kept getting a “Do not recognise flyer” message. By now panic was rising, the tears were forming, the sweat was poring, I HAD TO MAKE THIS FLIGHT!

I saw a young man and asked if he worked at the counter, he said yes listened to my desperation and went to find the supervisor. Both of these guys had been on their way to lunch…. not anymore. The supervisor told me gate closed, no go, have to rebook. As I was waiting for them to get me a phone number a French couple rounded the corner with the same look of desperation. Turns out they had the same problem flying in from a different airport. The Air France guys gave us the number, said sorry and disappeared as fast as their little feet could take them. Although the young guy did really want to help more.

Hello Operator???

The french couple asked me to help with the phone call so we dialed and hoped for the best. After a few transfers we were finally connected to United… I think… not sure why…
For both of us the answer was that we had booked on separate airlines so that means there was nothing they could do, they couldn’t rebook us, they couldn’t give us information… nada!!

Customer Service at its best!!

Then we headed off to United to see if there was anything the counter could do. Once again it was a dead end, they could proved us a note claiming we missed our next flight due to a delay and a coupon for a hotel discount, but nothing else. Also they weren’t sure where my bags were, but we relatively certain they were somewhere in the airport… fantastic!

Delta????

A good friend suggested we go see Delta, as they are partners with Air France…. it couldn’t hurt really, we had hit a wall at every possible attempt. The staff at the Delta Air counter in San Francisco were not only kind and friendly they were downright incredible, phenomenal and pretty damn awesome. We spent 5 hours at the counter but they would not give up. The first lady could not help me but she was able too sort out the couple’s tickets with just a small change fee. Then just as I was about to give up, after trying to call any number I had to reach someone in Italy… an amazing member of the Delta team put his foot down and was determined to discover a way to get my ticket sorted. He would not give up, and eventually against all odds, possibly with a little magic involved he handed me my tickets for the next flight and even had me do online check in and choose my seats. I wanted to kiss him, all the stress and strain dissipated.

Luggage in transit

During this miracle of reticketing, I went to United to find my luggage. They had no record of it other than when it was scanned to go onto the airplane in…wait for it…. Eugene, OR. So either my bag was still on the Eugene flight, or it had been transferred and was flying to venice or it was backstage somewhere in the airport. At that point it just didn’t seem like a big deal… am was sure I would find it the next day.

The Round Up

The 3 musketeers left the airport and headed for our hotel feeling utterly exhausted, bordering on starvation but not defeated now that Delta had saved the day. After a shower and rest we celebrated the insanity of the day over dinner and drinks and then planned to meet the next day at the airport.

In the end I made it to Venice, the Air France flight was great, I had a whole row, great movies and good food. But the stress to get there just proved the fact that buying tickets all within the same partnership can significantly diminish stress when delays occur.

As for making it to the ship…. I did, barely, but that’s a story for another time.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Cruise, Italy, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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