From gondola rides to Attila the Hun’s throne in Venice

I can’t help but feel like I’ve just stepped into an Angelina Jolie movie. We’re cruising through the canals of Venice, wind in our hair, when we’re handed a glass of champagne.

Welcome to Venice indeed.

My Two’s a Crowd tour group has just taken the long trek by bus from Tuscany where we spent a week in a Tuscan villa, exploring all that the mountainous countryside has to offer.

But now it’s Venice’s turn to weave it’s magic on the group and it’s off to a great start.

We begin with pre-dinner aperitifs on our hotel roof – the Italians just love their aperitifs – and watch as the sun descends and the lights begin to sparkle all along the canals.

We watch the boats and gondolas traverse the water and the thousands of people skip along the edges of the canals.

In the morning we join them with a walking tour of our own.  We begin in Piazza San Marco, the main square in Venice. It’s home to the Doge’s Palace, the Campanile (clock tower) and St Mark’s Basilica.

But everywhere you turn in this piazza you’ll find something interesting to look at. It’s packed, there’s no denying that, but it’s always that way during the day (unless you get up before the sun and go wandering – I know, I did, it’s the only time you’ll have the piazza all to yourself and even then you’ll find the odd passer-by on their way home from a big night out). But even with all the people, the piazza’s charms are on full display.

The Basilica, though tucked in beside the Doge’s Palace, is difficult to miss and it’s even more difficult not to become enthralled by the facade. It’s exterior is inlaid with golden Byzantine mosaics and marble columns and is topped by five domes and countless sculptures. It truly is a visual feast.

Next to the Basilica is the clock tower featuring an astrological clock that dates back to 1496 and is topped by a bell, which is struck every hour by two bronze “moors”.

But there is more to Venice than San Marco’s Square so our guide pulls us away and winds us through the canals, past Fenice Theatre and along Venice’s main shopping street, the Mercerie, pointing out schools, churches and watering wells along the way.

All the while explaining to us what it’s like to live on canals instead of roads.

We wander past the Bridge of Sighs, an enclosed limestone bridge that connects the Doge’s interrogation rooms with the prison and includes small windows through which prisoners had their last glimpses of Venice. Sigh.

But the real highlight of Venice comes after the walking tour; after we’ve traversed the sidewalks and explored the city by land we experience the quintessential mode of Venetian transport – the gondola.

With the group split between three gondolas we make our way through the waterways of the city – and yes, the gondoliers even sing as they glide their craft effortlessly through the waters.

It is a different perspective of the city and the gondolas manage to take us to places it is impossible to visit on foot.

The following day we take a boat of a different kind, less glamorous perhaps, but no less Venetian, when we step onto a bragozzo, a traditional working boat, and make our way out to the island of Murano, Burano and Torcello.

From glass blowing to lace making, each of the islands offers something slightly different.  Our first stop is Murano where we watch in awe as glass blowers sit in front of steaming hot furnaces and craft intricate figurines from glass.

On Burano we see the lace makers at work, sewing delicate patterns into lacework and wander through the brightly coloured buildings of the fishing village.

And finally we stop at Torcello, a barren island of just 100 inhabitants, where we take turns to sit on the stone throne, said to be that of Attila the Hun.

There’s so much more to Venice than gondolas and canals.

Want to experience Venice for yourself? Check out our latest tour to Italy here.

Diane Squires is a tour host with Two’s a Crowd.

What Our Clients Say

20 out of 10!

The trip was just great - I can't really think of any negatives. Diane will back me up when I say I usually give 10/10s - I gave her 20/10. Trish, Canada/Alaska

Excellent trip

I found the overall trip excellent. I believe Diane's professionalism, inclusive personality and ability to relate to all contributed to this. She worked to ensure the group was cohesive without individuals impinging on the personal space of others etc. a good skill to have and one she applied effectively. Kate, Canada/Alaska

Fantastic value for money

Fantastic value for money paid. Russell our guide is an asset to your company... he was fantastic! Overall the trip was magical from start to finish. Well done Two's a Crowd ... the best trip ever. Barbara, Canada/Alaska

Fantastic first solo trip

I had a fantastic trip. Absolutely loved Canada and Alaska. It's the first time I have travelled solo and was pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of people that all got on so well. Diane our host was great. She did a good job of getting us altogether for meals, excursions, shopping trips etc. I liked that she quietly got things done without being loud or "in-your-face". She was good at being one of us as well as our leader. Wendy, Canada/Alaska

Good balance of activities and spare time

Had a great time. Good mixture of organised activities and spare time. Diane was an excellent tour host. Russell the tour guide was great, very knowledgeable and personable with his insights into growing up and living in Canada. Sharon, Canada/Alaska

Well organised trip with an excellent host

The trip was well organised, with a good mix of activity and free time. The scenery was spectacular and fellow travellers were a great bunch. Diane is a excellent host - helpful, courteous and above all a pleasure to know. I found her bubbly personality a bonus and can only speak highly of her. Gary, Canada/Alaska

I had a fabulous time

I had a fabulous time. Lake Louise and the hotel were magnificent. The cruise was excellent. Diane made sure that she was available for group meals and sightseeing, and was alway in good humour and great fun. I would recommend your company to everyone and am very interested in the Scandinavia  tour at the end of 2017.

Cathy, Adelaide - Canada/Alaska May 2016

Great holiday

What a great trip! I experienced so much and participated in all that was offered. I had read and reviewed as much as time allowed me but was not prepared for what the trip gave me and that is a better understanding of the beautiful people of both countries. - Lesley on Vietnam/Cambodia

In good company

I thought the suggestions for optional things to do, in the "free" time were very good. So good, we really ended up with very little free time. So much to do! - Mary on Vietnam

Great time together

I found the trip interesting and eye opening with a great overview of both Vietnam and Cambodia. The other travellers on the trip were fabulous and we had a great time together. - Anonymous on Vietnam/Cambodia

Fantastic first experience!

Extremely well organised with fabulous guides throughout - especially in Vietnam! First holiday with your company and certainly not the last. - Glenys on Vietnam

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Can’t stop talking about my experience

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Best holiday I’ve been on!

One of the best holidays that I have been on - really well organised. I would never have travelled to Vietnam or Cambodia on my own. Bronwyn

Well organised

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Great time together

I found the trip interesting and eye opening with a great overview of both Vietnam and Cambodia. The other travellers on the trip were fabulous and we had a great time together.

Great value

Well done. No complaints. Very pleased with this trip. Great value for my hard earned dollars! Really enjoyed the [Vietnam/Cambodia] tour. 

Fabulous rapport filled with much humour!

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The (Uniworld River) cruise was great, I met up with some wonderful people who treated me like part of the family !
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Informative and educational

The entire trip was one of the most enjoyable and exciting. Also so informative and educational. I was so pleased to make the trip. Wish I was over there in that magical place.  Marjorie


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Being my first tour and a senior member, I admit I was apprehensive but I need not have worried. It was great and I was very well looked after.  Can’t wait to go to Kenya with Two’s a Crowd.  Maureen

Smooth and seamless

A memorable trip of a lifetime, a wish fulfilled.  A fascinating cultural country steeped in history which I found totally enthralling.  Two’s a Crowd service was smooth and seamless.  Pam

A wonderful experience

It was a wonderful experience visiting Cambodia and Vietnam and gave me a better understanding of these countries. I had a great time with new friends, we had a good bunch and Leonie was the perfect host. Eric

Value for money

Value for money and outstanding co-operation from your staff and tour operators. Joan

Safe and secure and totally looked after

An awesome adventure for my first time overseas alone.  Leonie was excellent and both guides were also fantastic.  At all times I felt safe and secure and totally looked after.  Melinda

Well done Two’s a Crowd.

Leonie was an excellent host, the ideal person. I never felt any pressure to  be involved in every activity so I could explore alone during free time. Having 2 or 3 nights in most places was great – you could rest up or party. Well done Two’s a Crowd. Jenny

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