Events in Venice

February

 

  • February 3rd: Carnival of Venice. Carnevale is one of Venice’s biggest traditions and thus one of Venice’s busiest times for tourism. Celebrations include masquerade balls, parades on both land and in the canals, food fairs, children’s carnivals and numerous other activities.

  • February 14th: Valentines Day (Festa di San Valentino). Only in recent years has Italy begun to celebrate the feast day of Saint Valentine with hearts, love letters, and romantic candlelight dinners. Some museums also offer two-for-one admissions for couples on Valentine’s Day.

March

  • Mid- to Late-March: Holy Week and Easter. Tourists, rather than locals, tend to crowd Venice around Easter time. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot take in some lovely pageants, classical music concerts, and Easter services in Venice during Holy Week. Visitors may also wish to attend mass in Saint Mark’s Basilica on Easter.
  • March 19: Festa di San Giuseppe. The Feast Day of Saint Joseph (the father of Jesus) is also known as Father’s Day in Italy.

 April

  • April 25: Festa di San Marco and Liberation Day. April 25 is a busy day on the Venetian calendar. Saint Mark, Venice’s patron saint, is feted on this day with a gondoliers’ regatta, with commemorations of the saint at Saint Mark’s Basilica, and festivities in Saint Mark’s Square.

May

  • May 1: Labor Day and the Festa della Sparesca. Primo Maggio is a national holiday in Italy, so many Venetians head out of town for a long weekend. Those who stay in town get to witness the Festa della Sparesca, a gondolier regatta held at Cavillino in the lagoon.
  • Mid May: Festa della Sensa. The Festa della Sensa, the ceremony which commemorates Venice’s marriage to the sea, takes place on the first Sunday after Ascension Day (40 days after Easter). It also includes a huge fair.
  • Late May: Vogalonga. The Vogalonga, held the weekend following the Sensa festival, is an exciting 32 kilometer rowing race with up to 3000 participants. The course runs from San Marco Basin to the island of Burano and returns through the Grand Canal to finish at the Punta della Dogana.Vogalonga-2015

June

  • Early June (every other year in odd-numbered years): Biennale d’Arte Contemporanea & Architettura. The months-long contemporary arts extravaganza that is the Venice Biennale begins in June every other year during odd-numbered years and runs until November.


August

  • Late August through September: Venice Film Festival. The Venice Film Festival is an annual internationally known film festival which sees a number of stars and starlets grace the gondolas and red carpets of the Canal City. The prize given for the winning film is the Leon d’Oro – the Golden Lion – and past recipients have included Akira Kurosawa, Gillo Pontecorvo, Robert Altman, Ang Lee, and Sofia Coppola. The festival itself takes place on Venice Lido.Venice-Film-Festival-La-Biennale-di-Venezia-entrance
  • Outdoor Movies and Concerts – You’ll find outdoor movies and concerts in several squares around Venice, such as Campo San Polo, look for posters on walls telling about outdoor events.outdoor
    Beaches – If you want a beach escape, the closest place to go is Venice Lido, easily reached by vaporetto from Saint Mark’s Square. While the beaches will be crowded, it will probably be a welcome relief from the heat.

September

  • Opera Season at La Fenice. Venice’s famous opera house La Fenice is a great place to see an opera, even if you are not an opera fan.

October

  • 4th Sunday in October: Venice Marathon. An internationally recognized race, the Venice Marathon starts out on the mainland and concludes in Saint Mark’s Square. For more information, visit the Venice Marathon website.
  • Halloween. Although Halloween is not really an Italian holiday, it’s becoming pretty popular, especially amongst young adults. You’ll see shop windows decorated for Halloween and you may find Halloween costume parties in bars or restaurants and in nightclubs on the Lido.  For something a little creepy you might consider the Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour or a visit to San Michele Island, Venice’s cemetery (see Visiting Venice’s Islands).

December

  • Mid-December: Christmas Market in Venice. From now until mid-January, the festive Christmas market in Campo Santo Stefano is filled with stalls selling quality Venetian handicrafts, including nativity crafts, children’s toys, and seasonal treats. Food, drink, and music are also part of the festivities.
  • December 25: Christmas Day. You can expect everything to be closed on Christmas Day as Venetians celebrate the most important religious holiday of the year. Of course, there are many ways to celebrate Christmas in Venice, from attending midnight mass at Saint Mark’s Basilica to visiting Christmas crèches around the city.

 

 

If you want more on venice, check out the hashtag #Hello965Venice on Instagram.

Ciao!

Hello965

Hello965 Friends: KYOTO, JAPAN

By @Almallaks

Why we chose this city: Kyoto is the old capital of Japan and if you like history and sightseeing, this is really a city you have to visit. It is filled with beautiful shrines and monuments. There is really a lot to see. It also known to the place where geishas reside.

 

Duration: Essentially we stayed 2 nights. BUT, we recommend that you stay at least 2 additional nights (total of 4) depending on how much you want to see. There is A LOT to explore in this city and it may take a while to get from one place to the other (especially by train or on foot), so it really depends on you and how much you want to see.

Geisha

Where we stayed: We stayed at the Best Western Hotel Kyoto. It is a nice hotel and the location was great too in between the markets and main shopping streets.

  • Things to do/see in Kyoto:
    • Monuments and shrines are endless – you must research in advance -but because we didn’t have a lot of time, we picked the top ones we wanted to see. They are:
      • Fushimi Inari Shrine (featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha). This will easily take you 2-3 hours to finish if you plan to walk through the whole shrine.

         

      • Kinkakuji (Golden Temple) – so, so gorgeous.

         

      • Arashiyama Bamboo Groves: this was like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Very cool.

         

    • Make sure to walk around in the Gion district of Kyoto, and ask your hotel for recommendations in this area. It has restaurants, cafes, stores, art, you name it. This is the best place to see geishas – especially in the evening.

       

  • Shopping in Kyoto:
    • Shijō Kawaramachi – this is the main shopping street in the area and it intersects with many others. So just pick a day and walk around to explore the area. There is really a lot to see.
    • If you take a right after exiting the hotel, there is a whole area of shopping in the back. Really nice stores. There was even one store where you can get new prescription glasses made in 15 minutes. No, we’re not lying, because we actually did it. Japan will blow your mind.
  • Food in Kyoto:
    • Kiyamachi Street. Lovely place. Lots of restaurants.
    • Chaochao: We loved this dumplings place on Kiyamachi Street. Ask your hotel for directions. Simple and delicious food. They even have a dessert dumpling (chocolate on the inside, ice cream on the side, YUMMY!)

       

    • British Baaba: We had breakfast at this European pancakes place. I know I know, we’re in Japan – but hey, it’s breakfast! Amazing little restaurant with the coziest interior and the most decadent pancakes you’ll ever see. 1 minute walk from the Best Western Hotel Kyoto.

       

[JR Train: (Kyoto to Kanazawa) – 2h 7m – 0 transfer]

 

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Hello965 friends: NARA, Japan

by @Almallaks

Why we chose this city: We chose this city for three reasons. #1, it has the largest Buddha statue in Japan. #2, it has wild deer that you can interact with and feed. #3, it has wild deer that you can interact with and feed – and they BOW to you as a thank you after feeding them. Need we say more?

Almallaks in JAPAN

Duration: We didn’t stay long in Nara, just a few hours to see the Buddha and deer. It was a stop on our way from Osaka to Kyoto; a very fun day trip.

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  • Things to do/see in Nara:
    • Largest Buddha in Japan. They close around 4 or 5pm so make sure you get there on time to see it.
    • Deer! On your walk to get to the Buddha, there will be deer everywhere. There are small stands where you can buy food for them. Watch what happens when you feed them and make sure to get some good shots and videos. Really special memories.Almallaks in JAPAN

       

[JR Train: (Nara to Kyoto) – 47m – 0 transfer]

@Almallaks

Almallaks is all about family health and fitness. Saad and Noor – fitness enthusiasts at heart – with their little girl, Faye, post about their daily life, workouts, food and parenthood in hopes that they can grow as a family, stay active, have fun, and inspire others to do the same.
Instagram: @almallaks – Snapchat: almallaks

Cape Town, South Africa

I can’t seem to take Cape Town out of my mind. If you haven’t been before to Cape Town, then you are reading the right post!! I’m sharing my short experience in Cape Town, and my tips.

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1. Sleep.

Cape Town has a huge number of accommodation options, from super fancy to rustic backpacker type places, so you are likely to find exactly what you need. For younger people, the city centre as well as surroundings including; Camps Bay, Bantry Bay, De Waterkant, Gardens, Tamboerskloof, Clifton, Sea Point, Mouille Point, Higgovale and Orangezicht. These are either located near nightlife or the sea. Alternatively you could stay in the university area of Newlands, which is a quick drive into the centre. For those looking for something a little different or for a bit of surfing, the smaller coastal towns of Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Hout Bay and Llundadno might be appealing but please note these are a little more out of the way.

For a relatively comprehensive listing of Cape Town self-catering, b&bs and hotels, go to www.capestay.co.za and refer to tripadvisor for reviews.

During my visit, I stayed in a boutique hotel called: Cascades on the Promenade (you can find it on booking.com). A wonderful boutique hotel, friendly staff and great breakfast. The owner was around, he welcomed us and showed us everything in the hotel. The hotel is 10 mins drive to the waterfront. Good for either a family or a group of friends.

Otherwise, if you’re looking to stay in a villa, this could help: http://www.capevillas.com/New_Hotlists/Camps_Bay_Villas.shtml

2. Tip.

If you’re comfortable driving on the same side of the road as in England, then I highly advise you to rent a car. A convertible car. Beautiful beautiful scenery going from one place to another.

3. Touristy stuff.

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– Go up Table Mountain (either hike or use the cable car). If you’re an athlete, hike for sure!! It’s not an easy hike though, it’s kinda steep. Otherwise, cable car is your friend.

– See the penguins at Boulders Beach (warm water, rock formations and cute penguins)

– Chapmans Peak Drive (one of the most scenic drives in the world)

– V&A Waterfront (beautiful indoor/outdoor mall – great shopping and eating – located by the sea with opportunity to go on boat trips around the coast)

Kirstenbosch Gardens (amazing botanical gardens at the foot of a mountain, they have great sunset concerts on Sunday evenings)

Camps Bay/Clifton (prime beach real estate, such a wonderful setting to spend the day in the sun with the mountains behind you – parking is a nightmare in summer, be warned!)

Robben Island (more history focused than anything, this is a small island off the coast where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for a long time), we took a boat to the island, and did the tour – worth visiting if you like history!

– Hermanus (coastal town, perfect for whale watching)

– Drive in your convertible to Cape of Good Hope. Drive by the sea.

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4. I did it, you can do it.

A) SHARK CAGE DIVING.

We rented a private driver-guide for sharkcage diving. We did it with Shark Cage Diving Gansbaai (http://www.sharkcagediving.co.za). They arrange for your pick-up and your drop-off from and back to the hotel.

Guys, you DO NOT swim with the sharks deep in the water in this one. You dive in a cage and you’re very close to the surface. You dive with great white sharks so they’re very dangerous and this tour/dive is mainly for people with no diving licenses.

B) Helicopter Ride.

This ride was absolutely fantastic. I booked The CapeTown Scenic Flight with these guys: http://www.helicopterscapetown.co.za

5. Eating out.

Haiku restaurant is a fun place to eat out, they do Asian fusion and are famous for Asian tapas. Rick’s Cafe in the city centre is a wonderful place to go and have snacks as it has a large roof terrace with a view of the mountains – all kinds of interesting cigars are also sold there for cigar lovers. The Bombay Bicycle Club is a funky place to eat delicious grills and African food, its also in a very convenient central location. Royale Eatery on Long street is a yummy trendy hamburger place, on the top is a trendy bar/club called the Waiting Room – definitely worth checking out. Cape 2 Cuba in Kalk Bay is a bit away from the centre (on the other side of the mountain) but has delicious food and is a very interesting spot.

To find a specific restaurant or read about more dining in Cape Town, you should go to www.eatout.co.za.

On a Sunday afternoon, starting at 5 or 6 pm (more or less), go to Caprice Bar, which is a beach front bar in Camps Bay, very cool vibe, very good crowd, DJ playing soft house music and everyone chilling there while watching the sunset.

6. Final words.

Be safe!! South Africa is a wonderful place to visit; however, this paradise isn’t perfect – crime and car accidents are both a serious concern. When driving at night be extra vigilant as many other drivers do drink and drive. Avoid driving long distances after dark when possible. Always lock your car when driving and ensure valuables are not visible when stopping at traffic lights. Ensure whatever accommodation you choose has adequate security measures in place (secure parking, a safe, an alarm or physical security etc) Don’t walk around with a fancy laptop/camera etc when this isn’t necessary, the more concealed the better. As in most countries, there are good and bad areas (unless on a guided tour avoid shanty towns and poorer areas).

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Salud, and enjoy Paradise! Toomzie

Hello965 Friends: Osaka, Japan اوساكا

by @Almallaks

Why we chose this city:We chose this city because of one thing really: sumo! This was one thing we were really interested in experiencing while we were in Japan. We got lucky that there was a tournament happening around the same time, so we jumped at the opportunity. We booked the tickets online in advance and collected them upon arrival. It also happens that Osaka is one of the biggest cities in Japan and is known for the food.

 

Duration: We stayed in Osaka for 2 nights and we think it’s plenty.

 

Where we stayed:Hotel Monterey Grasmere Osaka. Really nice hotel actually with a great location: connected to the train station and walking distance to the city center – Namba.

  • Things to do/see in Osaka:
    • We went to a Sumo match. It was one of the most interesting things we’ve ever done. Highly recommend it.

       

    • Osaka Castle. So beautiful and the area surrounding it is really nice to walk around in.

       

    • Namba –city center. Restaurants cafes and lights galore. Really nice and has little restaurants in the alleyways.

       

  • Shopping in Osaka:
    • We actually didn’t really shop anywhere except in Tokyo, but you will find a lot of stores in the city center (Namba).
  • Food in Osaka:
    • Make sure to try the fried octopus, they have many stands in Namba where you can try it. It’s their specialty!
    • Sanpei Restaurant: This is where we tried the Okonomiyaki (savory pancakes@), they were oh-so-good. You get to choose which toppings you want so you can be as safe or as adventurous as you want.
    • Lord Stowe’s: Tiny bakery in Namba (just for pick up). Not Japanese, BUT they had delicious egg tarts in different flavors. We loved the original; perfect for breakfast with coffee.
    • Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku: great restaurant in the town center. Top quality meat you get to grill yourself in a traditional Japanese setting. When you go, ask for Kuniyoshi!
    • Osaka is known for their food so ask your hotel for recommendations as well.

       

NEXT: [JR Train: (Osaka to Nara) – 51m – 0 transfer]

@Almallaks

Hello965 Friends: Tokyo طوكيو

Tokyo by @Almallaks

 

Why we chose this city: I think this one is self-explanatory really. It’s TOKYO! This city is HUGE. Seriously enormous. The best way to describe it is that it’s a city made up of a smaller cities. There’s so much to see and do in each area, it’s ridiculous.

 

Duration: We stayed 4 nights at the start of the trip plus another 4 nights at the end of the trip. Totally worth it and would say that’s a good time to stay in Tokyo.

 

Where we stayed VS. where we think you should stay:We ended up staying at the E Hotel Higashi Shinjuku in the area of “Shinjuku.” More details on the area later. The hotel wasn’t that bad, but it was very small. What was nice was that there was a café downstairs (International) where we could have breakfast and coffee before heading out for the day. It was a 15min walk to the main area of Shinjuku which wasn’t bad but you can get hotels much closer to the “action.”

We recommend that you stay in the area of “Shibuya” though. We just loved that area. It’s very nice and has many hotels, plus loads of shopping, activities and cafes. From what we saw, there were a few hotel options close to the main Japan Rail Station, including: Cerulean Tower Hotel, Shibuya Excel Hotel, and Shibuya Tokyu Inn.(PS. We used booking.com for all our hotel bookings).

Let’s start with the details of each area in TOKYO:

Shibuya

  • Things to do/see in Shibuya:
    • Shibuya Crossing: This is a 6-way traffic light crossing. Yes. 6 ways and it’s the busiest you’ll ever see. It. Is. Amazing.
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    • Tsutaya: This is a shopping complex across from the main Japan Rail Station. There is a Starbucks there. Grab a coffee and go to the first floor. You’ll get an amazing outsider view of the crossing. So crazy to watch from above.
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    • Hachiko Dog Statue:right in front of the Japan Rail Station; smaller than you’d imagine, but the story is very cute: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hachikō
    • If you like cats, there’s a cat café, yes seriously. We went. So quiet you get to play with the cats for 30 mins and they give you cookies and a cup of coffee. So if you like cats, it’s a nice place for a coffee break! http://wandertokyo.com/cat-cafe-hapineko/

       

    • Go check out the Pachinko slot area, crazy. We walked in and out. It was so loud and everyone was so into it. Like a casino.
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  • Shopping in Shibuya:
    • PARCO1: Japanese brands
    • Maraque 109: Japanese’s highstreet styles – top floor has a café with recommended bubble jasmine tea. If you like bubble tea, go try it.
    • Don Quixotos: There are lots of branches of this place around Tokyo, it’s kind of a cheap, fun gifts place. Girls, they sell black liquid eye liner there, so amazing. I got two of them with me and wish I got more.
    • Tokyu Hands: Best stationary and house stuff etc. It’s like the Japanese Ikea. There are branches in almost all areas, ask your hotel. You can and may want to spend a lot of time there.
  • Food in Shibuya:
    • Food was really a bit difficult for us in general while in Japan. We always tried to go to places with an English menu because we don’t eat a lot of seafood. Always ask your hotel for recommendations if you are the same. If you are more adventurous, then you have nothing to worry about!
    • For the adventurous: a place recommended to us(but we didn’t end up going) was a typical Japanese seafood place: http://www.uoshins.com/i/shibuya.html Ask for the chef mix.

Daikonyama

  • Things to see/do in Daikonyama:
    • This is a great residential area walking distance from Shibuya, it was one of our favorite places. So quiet and so so pretty.
    • Crossfitters: The only Crossfit box in Tokyo is in this area! We actually went for a few sessions there.

       

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  • Shopping in Daikonyama:
    • The area is filled with stores on every street and every corner. Really nice boutiques with cool stuff. Ladies will definitely enjoy.
  • Food in Daikonyama:
    • Hacienda: If you need a change from Japanese food, this is a great Mexican restaurant with a killer view.

Harajuku

  • Things to see/do in Harajuku:
    • This is the place where you’ll see the crazy anime dressed people. So fun. Don’t be shy to ask them for pictures, they don’t mind at all!
    • Meiji Jingu Shrine is a must.
    • Yoyogi Park: Beautiful park. We watched the cherry blossoms there. It was sublime. One of the best experiences of our lives. If you go around the same time and get lucky, this is where you should go to spend an afternoon. You get your food and drinks and there are plastics mats already set up on the floor. People go there and spend the day just hanging out.IMG_0615
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  • Shopping in Harajuku:
    • The area has many nice shops. The busiest street in Harajuku is called takeshita-doriand it is lined with cafes and stores and is VERY busy. There is a store that we liked called “Monki” and it is a Japanese version of Breshka/H&M.
    • They have a Nike store and a Hello Kitty store. Ask for directions.
    • Recommended to us (but we didn’t go): Condomania, Kiddieland, Laforet and the main walking street are all shopping musts.20140322_112011
  • Food in Harajuku:
    • Recommended to us: Uoshin.web for Okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes!) for the adventurous and the not so adventurous eaters because you can choose what your toppings are J We didn’t try this place in particular, but we tried these pancakes in Osaka. Really special and highly recommended!

Shinjuku

  • Things to see/do in Shinjuku:
    • You’ll really enjoy this place at night. It’s kind of like Times Square with the lights and action on the streets.

       

    • Kareoke! They have many karaoke places, ask your hotel for a good one and book a session. They take it very seriously over there.
  • Shopping in Shinjuku:
    • There are random stores as well as department stores. Walk around and explore. Especially the area in and around the Japan Rail Station. (Yes the JR Station has shopping too! More than one floor even.)
  • Food in Shinjuku:
    • Robot Restaurant: ask your hotel to make a reservation. SO MUCH FUN. This is a must! DO NOT GOOGLE THIS. Just book, go and be surprised!
    • Rokassen: All you can eat for 90 minutes! You grill your own food, very fun and delicious. http://www.rokkasen.co.jp/map.html tel: 0120-666-528 Building name: O-Gard building. Ask for directions.
       

       

    • Check out the stuff they have at their 7-Elevens. Very interesting. We liked the Sakura flavored Hagen Daz ice cream and Kit Kat. Their Green Tea Kit Kat is famous as well!
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 Asakusa

  • Things to see/do in Shinjuku:
    • This is just for a quick trip so you can see the Asakusa Shrine.
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  • Shopping in Asakusa:
    • Make sure to ask your hotel if the market around the shrine is open. And only go when the market is open. It is super! BUY ALL YOUR SOUVENIRS AND GIFTS THERE!
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Next stop: OSAKA. [JR Train:  (Tokyo to Osaka) – 3h 14m – 1 transfer]

Coming up, stay tuned 😉

@Almallaks

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