While planning for our trip I looked at websites, reviews and blogs in hopes that I had all the information I needed once we arrived. But in reality, the only way to know what Venice is like...is to visit Venice!
*Myth: Venice stinks.
Before our visit I had several people tell me, "It's pretty but it stinks." Not true! Not once did I smell anything other than the sea and it was wonderful.
* Myth: Beware of gypsies and pickpockets.
I never felt threatened in any way what-so-ever. Use common sense and be aware like you'd be anywhere else you visit. We did however have an experience with a lady who 'very kindly' tried to help us use our credit card when we were buying train tickets. Even though the ticket device had directions in English, the process wasn't clear to us how to buy tickets and it took us a few tries to get it done. All of a sudden a lady steps up beside us and proceeds to instruct us which buttons to push. Behind me, our oldest daughter is saying, "Block her Aunt Shell! She doesn't work here. She's trying to get our pin numbers!" I'm completely oblivious to all this and believe she is there to help the struggling Americans buy a simple train ticket. All of a sudden the police walk up to her and take her by the arm and walk her away from us. Hmmm... I guess she was a gypsie after all.
We also had gypsies on the trains when we traveled between cities. One would walk by and give you a piece of paper that asked to give them money to feed their family. Once they walked the length of the train they would return and pick up the paper they had placed on the seat. We also had a old man show us a piece of paper with a cat on it. "He sells cats?" my daughter said. It was an interesting experience to say the least.
* Myth: Venice is expensive
Venice has been #1 on my bucket list for a long time so I had read a lot about the expense of this city and I had prepared to pay top dollar for everything while there. We didn't find this true, at least not to the extent I was expecting. In fact, the one day it rained we stopped in several shops to get dry and warm up and found many gifts to bring home to friends and family as souveniers. Only after we had gone on to Florence and Rome did we realize how inexpensive Venice was as we found the exact same items for double the price of what we paid in Venice! We kicked ourselves for not purchasing more while we were in Venice. We also found food relatively inexpensive as well considering we would start the day with a croissant or something similar and then eat one larger meal in the afternoon. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at the costs of things in Venice.
As far as lodging goes, renting an apartment on the mainland may have been less expensive but experiencing the winding cobblestone alley-like streets throughout the stunning architecture was fabulous and I loved every single step. And given there are no cars we explored Venice on foot which didn't cost us a cent.
* Myth: When the plane lands in Italy the passengers applaud.
This didn't happen on our flight but there were people that applauded when we landed in Amsterdam. It was funny. No idea why. :)
* Myth: You have to pay more if you sit down to eat.
There are many local Italians that do stand while they eat but we always sat down and paying more was never mentioned. After walking for hours on end, I would have gladly paid more to sit down anyway.
* Myth: You have to pay to use public bathrooms and there may not be toilet paper so always carry some with you.
We used a public restroom at the train station and yes, we did have to pay to use it (about $1.50), but it did have toilet paper. :)
* Myth: Gondola rides are expensive.
This one is true but we decided it was one thing we would splurge on.