Venice by Vaporetto: Rialto East

FormosaEast

Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli-Want to see what Venetian Renaissance looks like?  This marble church is considered a “jewel box.”  Pilgrims flocked to the church after the Virgin Mary performed several miracles.  Glide up the canal and hop off at this recently renovated church.

Santa Maria Formosa-One of my favorite Venice moments took place just outside this church.  It was Palm Sunday and a group of men were playing guitars in the campo.   Formosa means “shapely saint Mary.”  A vision appeared of a seductive Mary near this location.  Was it Mary, or a courtesan?  Nonetheless, a beautiful church stands in the spot of the original.

Ca’ del Sol Mask Shop-Hiding one’s identity is tempting while in Venice.  What happens in Venice stays in Venice?  Even if you aren’t visiting during Carnevale, you can get your fill of mysteriousness at this mask shop.  While I was visiting Venice, I was able to get a behind the scenes glance at how simple paper mache is turned into glamorous masks.  What style would you pick?

 

 

Venice Vaporetto 101

VeniceThe Venice Vaporetto is by far my favorite public transportation.  The stop is a dock and the vehicle is a boat.  The breeze and spray make it a great way to cool off in the summer.  Some people may be intimidated by the system, but it really is efficient and much more affordable than a gondola or taxi.  I do have to warn you that it is not as handicap-friendly as public transportation we might see in the states.  Then again, Venice is not very handicap-friendly in general.  If you are looking for a how-to or some simple tips, read below for more information.

Getting Ready for the Vaporetto

Finding a vaporetto stop is typically easy unless you are nestled in the back canals.  It can be handy to pick up a map that contains the city layout along with the vaporetto routes.  Even if you aren’t staying in a hotel, you can probably sneak in to pick one up.  Their website also has a downloadable copy of the map.

You can purchase tickets at some vaporetto stops, the airport, or online.  If you are coming in from the airport, it might be easiest to just purchase it there since you will also probably have to purchase a bus ticket to get to Venice.  Actv (the vaporetto company) offers tourist cards that will most likely work best for your travels.  There are different options based on the length of your stay.  Once you purchase a card, you have unlimited use until the time expires.  Make sure you validate your card, or you might be paying for some bigger fines!

How the Vaporetto Works

You’ve got your ticket, now what?  This is where having a vaporetto map can be helpful in creating a plan ahead of time.  If you don’t have a map, there are maps posted at the vaporetto stops.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the vaporetto map, but you can click the link so you can follow along.  Let’s do this step by step:

1. Find the vaporetto stop you are currently at.

2. Find the vaporetto stop you want to go to.

3. If it is on the same line (color/number), then this will be really easy.  Simply look in the direction you want to go until you find the last stop.  You will use the last stop to help you determine which direction you will go.  When you arrive at the vaporetto stop, you will want to find the sign that indicates that direction.  For example, if I was at San Marco-San Zaccaria and I wanted to go to San Giorgio, I would get on the line 2 boat in the direction of Tronchetto.  The vaporetto system is nice because most of the stops list all places the boat will visit.  This is a good way to double check that you are going the right direction.

4.  If you need to change lines, don’t fret.  Let’s say I’m at my home vaporetto stop of San-Marco-San Zaccaria and I want to go to Burano.  I look at the map to see how I can make the fewest connections possible.  I notice that I will take line 41/42 or 51/52 to Fondamente Nova to get on line 12 and exit at Burano.

Want some practice scenarios?  Check these out and look for the answers at the bottom of the post.  Remember, there is more than one way to get where you want to go, but typically we want the most straightforward approach.

1. Rialto to Salute

2. Ferrovia to San Toma

Rialto Bridge-045Important Reminders

After entering the boat, make sure you put your ticket in a safe place.  I have never been on a vaporetto where they check your tickets, but I’ve heard from others that they do check.  Hold onto it to verify you paid your way so you won’t be paying more later.

One of the most important points to remember is to watch your valuable items.  The vaporetto is a common place for pickpockets because we are easily distracted and the boats can become quite packed.  Try to keep your hand over your purse or pocket with your wallet, or wear a moneybelt.  Zippers and buttons are no match for pickpockets.  To learn other tips, check out my blog post about the topic.

Using the Vaporetto

Now that we have a better idea of how to use the vaporetto, we will be ready for the first installment of Venice by Vaporetto tomorrow.  The first post will feature the Rialto stop and all of the wonderful sights within a kilometer.

Answer Key

1-Look for Line 1 in the direction of Lido.

2-Look for Lines 1 or 2.

Paris Metro 101

CiteThe Paris Metro is like arteries hidden under the city skin.  These tunnels take you all over the city.  I love rising from the Metro to find unexplored territory, or a grand sight right before me.  Some people may be intimidated by the system, but it really is efficient and much more affordable than a taxi.  I do have to warn you that it is not handicap-friendly.  If stairs or some walking are challenging for you, it may not be the best mode of transportation.  If you are looking for a how-to or some simple tips, read below for more information.

paris vacation 101Getting Ready for the Metro

Finding a Metro is typically easy unless you are away from the city center.  It can be handy to pick up a map that contains city streets and the Metro plan.  Even if you aren’t staying in a hotel, you can probably sneak in to pick one up.  If you are going soon, make sure the Metro map is updated.  They recently expanded some of the lines, so it is important to have an updated map.  You can always download a copy from the website as well.

Once you reach the Metro, you will descend to purchase tickets.  There are some machines that only take cards.  If you have a chipped card, you can use this, otherwise you will need a machine that accepts cash.  Make sure you have bills less than 50 €.

If you plan on using the Metro more than a couple times, I recommend purchasing a carnet.  This is a package deal containing 10 tickets for a little over 13 €.  Some Metro stations have a person working if you need to ask questions, but don’t rely on that.

Your ticket will be good until you pass through an exit.  You do not need a new ticket to change lines or go back if you made a mistake.  You could technically explore all of Paris underground if you wanted to.  Personally, I prefer the view above ground.

How the Metro WorksTurnstile

You’ve got your ticket, and you made it past the turnstile (sometimes this is more challenging than you would think), now what?  This is where having a metro map can be helpful in creating a plan ahead of time.  If you don’t have a map, there are maps posted on the walls.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the metro map, but you can click the map below to be linked so you can follow along.  Let’s do this step by step:

1. Find the Metro stop you are currently in.

2. Find the Metro stop you want to go to.

3. If it is on the same line (color/number), then this will be really easy, but that doesn’t happen very often.  Simply look in the direction you want to go until you find the last stop.  You will use the last stop to help you determine which direction you will go.  For example, if I was at Georges V and I wanted to go to Saint Paul, I would look for the sign that points to Chateau de Vincennes.  Then I would follow the signs until I reach the tunnel where I wait for the train.  Get on, and watch for your stop.

4.  If you need to change lines, don’t fret.  Do be prepared for some walking though.  Some stations are small, while others may have you walking close to a half mile.  Let’s say I’m at my home Metro stop of St. Paul and I want to go to Canal St. Martin.  I look at the map to see how I can make the fewest connections possible.  I notice that I will take line 1 to Chateau de Vincinnes to get on line 5 and exit at Bastille.  Then I will determine what the last station is in the direction I want to go.  I see that it is Bobigny Pablo Picaso, so I follow the signs that point to Bobigny Pablo Picaso.  When the train arrives, I’ll hop on and get off at Republique to make my way to Canal St. Martin.

Want some practice scenarios?  Check these out and look for the answers at the bottom of the post.  Remember, there is more than one way to get where you want to go, but typically we want the most straightforward approach.

Metro Map1. Hotel de Ville to Gare de Lyon

2. Abbesses to Châtlet

3. Opera to Tuilieries

Important Reminders

After going through the turnstile, make sure you put your ticket in a safe place.  I have never been on the Metro when they check your tickets, but I’ve heard from others that they do check.  Hold onto it to verify you paid your way so you won’t be paying more later.

One of the most important points to remember is to watch your valuable items.  The Metro is a mecca for pickpockets because we are easily distracted and the trains can become quite packed.  Try to keep your hand over your purse or pocket with your wallet, or wear a moneybelt.  Zippers and buttons are no match for pickpockets.  To learn other tips, check out my blog post about the topic.

Using the MetroWaiting for the Metro

Now that we have a better idea of how to use the Metro, we will be ready for the first installment of Paris by Metro tomorrow.  The first post will feature the Cité Metro stop and all of the wonderful sights within a kilometer.

 

 

Answer Key

1-Look for Line 1 and take the Metro that goes in the direction of Chateau de Vincennes.  Get off at Gare de Lyon.

2-Look for Line 12 and take the Metro that goes in the direction of Mairie d’Issy.  Get off at Concord.  Find Line 1 and head in the direction of Chateau de Vincennes.  Get off at Châtlet.

–or–

Look for Line 12 and take the Metro that goes in the direction of Mairie d’Issy.  Get off at Madeline.  Find Line 14 and head in the direction of Olypiades.  Get off at Châtlet.

3-Look for Line 7 and take the Metro in the direction of Villejuif-Louis Aragon or Mairie d’Ivry (the line branches off, but this time it doesn’t matter which one you take).  Get off at Palais Royal/Musee de Louvre.  Find Line 1 and head in the direction of La Defense.  Get off at Tuilieries (and enjoy the gardens :).

Travel Website Idea

paris vacation 088I’ve had an idea for a while to create a website/app for cities like Paris, with great public transportation.  Wouldn’t it be handy to click/tap on a metro station in Paris, and see all sights within a half mile that can be visited?  Wouldn’t it be even sweeter if you clicked/tapped on one of those sights, and a profile would pop up with cost, map, history, and other helpful information?  I don’t know how to create this vision I have in my mind, but if anyone is interested in sponsoring me, please let me know :).  Here is a ridiculously cheesy storyboard of my idea.  Please don’t take it.

 

What do you think?  Would you use it?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.