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Venice - help planning an experience for my parents

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Feb 15th, 2015, 10:07 PM
  #1
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Venice - help planning an experience for my parents

My parents will be in Venice for their 35th wedding anniversary this coming July. They will be there for 4 nights and have never been. I wanted to plan/book a special experience for them. I was thinking some sort of private tour/excursion or dinner at a nice restaurant (not sure how I would pay for this). Does anybody have a suggestion or information that I could use?

I have never been to Venice, so I am not quite sure where to start.

Thanks.
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Feb 15th, 2015, 11:08 PM
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You should probably include information about how much money you want to spend -- or how much money your parents will be comfortable to have you spend on them. Fancy dinners and private tours, or music performance tickets, can run to several hundreds of dollars.

If your parents are already talking to you about their plans, and you've heard them say they are looking forward to a gondola ride or sitting in San Marco's piazza in the evening listening to the orchestras, maybe you could offer to pay for that in advance. Most people spend about $100 for a gondola ride, and maybe similar for drinks at Florian's in the piazza, so you could surprise them with the money in advance before they leave.

If you know your parents will want souvenirs, you could treat them in advance to some "mad money" to bring home something really special. If you know what sort of things they like, you could do some research to give them the address of a store that sells beautiful picture frames, or glass bowls, or door knockers, or antique maps, whatever is their taste.
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Feb 15th, 2015, 11:44 PM
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Hi mbann,

I just got back from a week in Venice and I think it's great that your parents want to spend their anniversary there. There are some nice things that they could do which won't break the bank -

a guided tour of the Doge's Palace [money well spent, IMO, having now seen it with and without a guide]

buying a vaporetto pass for the entire time that they are there so they can get around easily,

travelling to [and from] Venice from the airport in a water taxi - or if that's too expensive, on the alilaguna water bus,

having drinks in St Mark's Square as suggested by SL

going to a concert. La Fenice [the opera house in Venice] can be quite expensive but there is a group which regularly performs the works of Vivaldi in Venice for a reasonable cost - and you could book that in advance.

http://www.interpretiveneziani.com/e...certistica.php

hope this helps!
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Feb 15th, 2015, 11:53 PM
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PS: If you decide to treat them to a guided tour or a concert, I would still suggest you simply give them the money in advance with the suggestion for how to spend it on themselves unless you know for sure they will be wanting to organize their time around doing certain things at certain times. Many people going to Venice really enjoy it best by going with the flow. They might have arrived with plans for all sorts of things, but once they actually see Venice, they toss their plans away and instead just prefer to explore and be surprised.

I would also say that about a meal, and not commit them to a restaurant at a special place. That can be tricky for their appetites, even if you can figure out how to pay for it advance.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 04:01 AM
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First, my compliments on the effort you're making.

Given the problem with logistics -- paying in advance, booking, timing, etc. -- I like ann's idea about the water taxi. It's something you can book ahead, and it really is a nice way to enter the city, especially for first-timers. And the cost is no more than the typical dinner for two at a nice restaurant.

IMHO, there's something off about handing someone money and saying, "Go do this," unless it's your grandmother telling you to "buy something nice." Just doesn't feel right. Thus, my (and ann's) suggestion about the water taxi.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 04:04 AM
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BTW, the guided tour of the Doges Palace is a pretty good idea, too, as something you can book ahead.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 04:14 AM
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Water taxi booked in advance would work for me as a treat, because it aids my trip rather than boxes me into something. But I would rather have money and ideas of how to spend it than be boxed in with a reservation somewhere I felt I had to honor even if I didn't feel like it when the time arrived, because I felt I owed to the gift-giver to use the gift. Like I said, if the gift-giver knows for sure that the parents will be wanting to tour the Doge's Palace, saying "my treat" is a great idea. But I would go nuts if somebody booked a tour for me as a "surprise gift", especially if it was pricey.

Presumably the OP knows her parents and whether they would accept an open-ended treat given in the form of advance cash, so they could feel free to spend it on a whim or amenity. I agree it is tricky for many children to give their parents money, but sometimes parents are flexible about it.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 05:41 AM
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Another vote for the wonderful idea of a water taxi ride from the airport. Extremely practical, and a fantastic introduction to Venice as it unfolds before your eyes.

Also agree that reservations for a specific restaurant could have some complications. The logistics of Venice are unlike those of any other city on the planet, and it often makes a great deal of sense to make dinner/sightseeing plans based on the location of one's hotel. Given that neither you nor your parents have been to Venice, it would be easy to wind up with some unintended consequences. If you do want to book a tour, it might be a very good idea to contact your parents' hotel and work out the details through them.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 06:06 AM
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Another potential problem with the gift of a meal is that if for some reason the couple celebrating don't have a great time -- poor service, something goes off with the food, a dispute about the bill -- then the parents feel badly that you paid for it and they can't report back it was a joy. Venice restaurants can be pretty controversial, especially in the "special occasion" category.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 08:53 AM
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What days in July? The Redentore festival is July 18/19.

If your parents like wine, how about a wine class about the wines of the Veneto? http://venetianvine.com/

Or if they are active types, a rowing lesson on the canals?
http://rowvenice.org/

Or one of Monica Cesarato's tours -
http://www.monicacesarato.com/blog/

Present them with whatever you decide to do, along with a laminated Streetwise map of Venice!
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Feb 16th, 2015, 09:23 AM
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There's a certain appeal to purchasing a vaporetto travel card or a museum pass for them. While it may not seem "special" enough, the costs for these add up. The OP's parents might enjoy just being able to visit a museum or getting on a vaporetto without thinking about whether or not the cost might be worth it.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 10:39 AM
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I am sorry if this sounds negative because what you wish to do is so nice. However, I think the logistics and the fact you have not been there make it very difficult. Once in Venice, I would hate being committed to a particular restaurant or anything else at a particular time, or buying from a particular shop, etc.

if your parents are interested in concerts, there are some performed in churches that are free or very inexpensive. It is lovely to hear something performed in the venue for which it was written.

Do your parents take a lot of pictures? If so, what about having a beautiful hard back book made for them afterwards of pictures they take on their trip?
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Feb 16th, 2015, 12:16 PM
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a vaporetto and/or museum pass won't commit them to anything apart from using them to explore Venice; ditto a water taxi to get from the airport - they have to get there somehow.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 01:51 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. The water taxi from the airport is a nice idea but they will be arriving by train. So, I think I will go with a vaporetto pass and then give them some money to spend as they wish.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 04:27 PM
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This might be worth a thought:

http://www.vivivenezia.org/vivivenez.../Home.html#_=_

I can personally recommend it, costs about 60 euro per person
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Feb 16th, 2015, 04:46 PM
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mbann: the water taxi from the train station is a fantastic treat too.

I would be thrilled if someone purchased one for me and ditto for a vap. pass.
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Feb 16th, 2015, 04:54 PM
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Thanks for the idea Peter_S_Aus. I will check it out.

Tuscanlifeedit - What would be the best way to book a water taxi from the train station? Thanks
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Feb 16th, 2015, 08:10 PM
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mbann: there are some boat booking services online. I just went to bed, sick as a proverbial dog, but I'll look tomorrow.

In the meantime, google water taxi venice, or send an email to their hotel. Are they staying in a hotel?

It really is a special experience. One comes out of the train station and gets in a water taxi to cruise down the Grand Canal. There's really nothing like it. Coming from the airport is cool too, but so is coming from the train station or the Piazzale Roma. That was my first view of Venice and I'm grateful to my mom for giving me the experience. When I went back with my husband, as frugal as I am, I insisted that he have the experience too.

For us, it's just been a matter of getting in the taxi, but I'm almost certain you can book one.
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Feb 17th, 2015, 01:41 AM
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yes, there is a motor taxi stop just outside the station, which whenever i went past had free taxis waiting.

but I have also seen on-line booking services too; here's one:

http://www.motoscafivenezia.it/eng/b...FcHMtAodniMAJg

i agree that that would be a lovely treat; better still if the hotel they are staying at has a water door or landing stage that the taxi can drop them off at so that they don't have to lug their luggage from the taxi to the hotel.
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Feb 17th, 2015, 02:58 AM
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We used Venicelink last year, they had the best prices, less than motoscafi, you might want to check it out and compare. I believe we paid 55 euros from the station to our rental apartment near San Marco and 65 euros to the cruise terminal at the end of our stay, worked very well for us as we were four. This will make for a wonderful treat, the wow factor is indescribable venicelink.com
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