6 ways to explore and fall in love with Venice

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Venice is genuinely in a league of its own. I had seen it on pictures before and thought no way can it be that beautiful, but when I visited earlier this year it was even more beautiful than how the pictures portrayed it.

As soon as I boarded the vaporetto (water taxi) towards the Rialto Bridge where our hotel was, it was as though I had become part of a real life water colour painting. Trust me when I say that the pictures in this post do not do it justice.

The sinking city, which is reason enough to visit Venice anyway, is also one of the most romantic cities in the world. I personally think it would be an incredibly romantic experience no matter who you’re with. You’re guaranteed to fall in love with the romance of the place; the labyrinth of alleyways and gelato shops, the singing gondolier’s and the charming, worn buildings.

Basically, add Venice to your wanderlust list! Once you’ve booked your flights, check out my top tips on what to do in Venice.

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1) One of the city’s most charming qualities is its maze of quaint streets and canals, each lined with chichetti bars and gelateria. However, this is one maze you really won’t mind getting lost in that’s for sure. Ditch the guidebook one day (maybe not on day one!) and just get lost wandering through Venice, exploring its beauty – with a gelato in your hand of course!

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2) Soak up the atmosphere in Piazza San Marco. Home to the Basilica di San Marco, this is Venice’s most famous square. There’s always a queue at the Basilica but it usually moves in about 15-20 minutes. If you want to beat the queues, book online. It’s also worth going back to Piazza San Marco at night when the square comes alive with entertainers and bands performing outside of restaurants. The Basilica is also lit up at night and looks spectacular. If you’re travelling with a partner, this is definitely worth adding to your date night agenda.

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3) For a bird’s eye view over Venice, take the vaporetto from San Marco to the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore. Visit the Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore, essentially the only reason for visiting the island, and let the lift whisk you up to the top of the 60m bell tower. Once at the top you’ll get to see an amazing view out over Venice. It’s a great, much cheaper alternative to San Marco’s bell tower and the queues are practically non- existent.

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4) Visit the glass making island of Murano. The vaporetto ride over to Murano is cheap and gives you yet another chance to take in the amazing views of Venice. There’s not much else to do on Murano other than visit the Museo del Vetro, but it’s well worth the trip. If you’re visiting in summer, take water! The glass making factory is fantastic. Within 15 minutes we saw one of the sculptors craft a unicorn from a hot furnace.

5) Experience the luxury of Gritti Palace. Located right on the edge of the grand canal, Gritti Palace was restored in 2013 and is definitely worth a visit. This luxurious hotel would no doubt be amazing to stay in but if you’re not in the money, I’d recommend doing what we did and basically going for a nosey about and enjoying a cocktail on the waters edge. It’s worth noting that you should dress up for the occasion and in my opinion it’s the perfect way to end a night in Venice. You can even get your own private water taxi or gondola from the bar to take you straight back to your hotel. The cocktails are expensive but worth every cent for their fruity deliciousness – and we got free snacks with them too! Check out the view you can enjoy while sipping on a drink below.

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6) Live and shop like a Venetian at the Rialto market and Pescaria, Venice’s 600-year-old fish market. I’m a firm believer that when you go on holiday you should do as the locals do, and this market is a great way to start. You don’t have to buy anything, but just walking around the colourful stalls and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere will give you a taste of life in Venice. If you want an actual taste, the Pescaria is great for picking up some snacks as you walk around.

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Just a few tips for you there and I’d love to hear yours too if you’ve been to Venice. You can Tweet me @HannahBryan91 or using #hannahshappypace

 

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Training on holiday & the Berlin Marathon countdown

Thanks to the fabulous running community on Twitter I’ve been reminded that it’s less than 10 weeks until the Berlin Marathon! 

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10 weeks though! Seriously, where has the time gone?! I’m already at that ‘can’t stop thinking about it marathon stage’ and constantly drifting off into day dreams of running a 3.15 marathon (yeah right, Han!) and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve already planned the outfit I’m flying in! God help whoever has to put up with me for the next 10 weeks, I apologise now.

As you may have spotted from a previous a post, I’ve been in Italy on a bit of a tour across the country. When we booked the holiday I knew I wouldn’t be following my set marathon training plan for a number of reasons; 1) there’s gelato to be eaten 2) the heat and 3) I booked a holiday to relax, sightsee and have a break.

So with that accepted I settled on trying to get a few runs and some bodyweight exercises in now and again, it is part of my happy pace after all! Still, it was hard not running. I worried about getting behind, worried about the extra pizza weighing me down and worried that I ‘d be too unfit to get back on track.

The reality is that it’s two weeks and I actually exercised most days. Granted most days it was walking but when sightseeing in Venice and Rome we averaged 8 miles of walking a day! Never forget to pack your Garmin on holiday, even if you’re not going to be running!

If you’ve got an autumn marathon booked and a holiday coming up as well then check out these tips on how to maintain a training routine while away.

Sightseeing – Grab a guidebook and go on a walking tour. Lonely Planet books are amazing for this. Not only will you see the sights and plenty of hidden gems along the way but you’ll also be banking some miles in the legs. Think of it as another version of steady state cardio. Another amazing way to see the sights of where you’re staying and to explore an area is to get up and run! Run early in the morning before the heat hits and use it as a way to explore the area and see some sights before everyone else is awake. It’s like your own personal private tour and a chance to get up close and personal with the city.

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Use your surroundings – If there are some steps down to the beach do stair runs up and down them or sprints along the beach. Think of the feeling of jumping into the sea after a hot and sweaty workout! Also, use the sea or a swimming pool if your hotel has one to get some swimming in. It’s a great cross training activity and gives your knees a break from road running or pounding the treadmill. Not to mention it’ll cool you down!

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Move the furniture- Make space in your hotel room/find the space to do a bodyweight workout. This can be as little as a tabata workout or an hour long strength session if you wanted it to be. Check out Dane’s blog where he’s posted what we did as well as some more challenging hotel workouts. Make sure you look around and see what you can make use of. It might be a step for calf raises or a chair for Bulgarian split squats for example. A good bodyweight workout can go a long way! You can burpee, hip thrust, or squat jump just about anywhere! If you’ve got some bands pack those in your suitcase too to use when you get there.

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Running past the colosseum, along the Venetian canals and by the harbour in Ischia was amazing and I feel so lucky to say I’ve done that. I’m excited to get stuck in to Berlin training once again now though as well as my new programme for the gym designed by Dane. You can check out my previous programme in an earlier post here.

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In other marathon news I’ve only gone and got myself a good for age place in next year’s London Marathon! 😀 YES!

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I’ll be keeping you up to date with how my trainings going over the next 10 weeks as well as posting plenty about Italy and the new recipes I’m going to rustle up inspired by the food I’ve eaten in Italy.

Ciao!

 

How to eat clean while travelling 

 This post is coming to you from a sun drenched beach in Ischia, one of Italy’s most beautiful islands. I’m fast approaching the end of a two week trip of a lifetime around Italy which started in Venice and will finish in Florence. 

I’m having the most amazing time. The weather has been spectacular as has the food, scenery and activities. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the most historical and breathtaking landmarks Italy has to offer as well as sample some of the tastiest meals of my life so far.

  
It’s the amazing food which leads me nicely to the topic of this post. I’ll also just add that there will be plenty more in-depth food posts to come on each area I’ve visited so far as well. 

As I’m sure any girl will tell you, when you go on holiday you want to be looking your best and I’m no different. 

That said, here I am a couple of kilos heavier and abs gone but I’m still lying on the beach in a bikini. The best way to be bikini ready is to just put one on and rock it.  Job done and I couldn’t agree more. 

The food here is out of this world and was a major factor when thinking about where we wanted to go so it was only inevitable that I’d get a little fluffier on this trip. 

I know many people get worried about this when they go on holiday so I thought I’d write something about how it is still possible to eat clean and make healthy choices while abroad. 

That said, remember you are on holiday and it’s a time to enjoy yourself! It’s a time to try new things, experience the local cuisine and treat yourself. I don’t regret a single gelato, pasta dish, pizza or bread basket I’ve devoured because it’s all part of the experience and it has been incredible! 

As soon as you get to the airport it’s easy to enter holiday mode; a croissant with your coffee, a beer with your breakfast or a super-size snack from duty free. That’s fine but if you’re conscious of staying healthy on holiday here are a few ways to navigate the airport junk food traps: 

1) Snacks – At most airports there’s usually a Boots or a little shop/cafe where you can buy nuts, carrot batons or pieces of fruit which are all great healthy snack choices. Avoid salted nuts though if possible.

2) Take your own- If you know you’re likely to get hungry before you fly then pack your own snacks to eat before going through customs. This will mean there’s no need to cave in and buy something unhealthy. Some ideas include bananas, nuts, kale chips, protein bars, homemade energy balls or carrot/cucumber/celery sticks. 

3) Meal prep – This is more applicable  to long haul flights but taking your own prepped food on the plane is an option. Fruit, vegetables and solid foods can go in hand luggage but foods with sauces or with a high liquid content need to go in those little transparent bags you get before going through security, or just use sandwich bags. Make sure you check online or the airport website for quantities allowed and for any other restrictions. It’s also worth noting that these days you can usually buy a basic side salad in cafés/restaurants and some sort of meat which is a simple and easy way to eat clean. Add some nuts to your salad for extra protein to fill you up. 

When you land and start the holiday it’s so easy to devour every treat in sight and by all means if that’s what a holiday is to you then absolutely go for it. However what I’ve found over the past two weeks is that if you want to you can stay healthy while on holiday. 

Breakfast – In each hotel we’ve booked we’ve had breakfast included which has been great. I LOVE breakfast and especially love my egg scrambles but I had a feeling they wouldn’t be available at a breakfast buffet. Some options have been better than others. The Italian way of life here is a cappuccino, croissant and juice for breakfast. This is all we got in Rome so I fully embraced it. However at our other hotels there has been far more choice. Go for the fresh fruit, eggs, brown toast or museli. Stay away from cakes,  pastries and sugary cereal. Also, just have one breakfast! Why does it feel acceptable on holiday to have three or four courses at breakfast when you’d be satisfied with one at home!?

  

Lunch – The salads across Italy have been spot on, packed full of flavour and variety. Again, most places have a salad option and some sort of meat or fish on the menu. Trust me, it’s the bread basket that’ll be your downfall! Just do what Dane and I did (or tried to do!) name your slice when the basket arrives, have that and then you’re done.  

   
    

Dinner – Each and every dinner here has been absolutely incredible. I’ve had a giant buffalo ribeye steak, tuna tartare and enough octopus to fill an aquarium! Fresh fish is the only dinner option in my opinion and it often comes with fresh vegetables or salad.  Need I say more!? The entire bread basket, wine, limoncello and pudding is optional of course! Basically what I’m saying is that there’s usually always a healthy option on the menu, you’ve just got to look and chose appropriately. 

   
    

Reading this back I realise I’ve stuck to very little of this but that’s ok. I wouldn’t want to leave Italy not having  fully immersed myself in the experience and deprived myself of anything. Balance and finding your happy pace is key. And now if you’ll excuse me it’s time to find mine again at the gelato shop before taking another dip in the sea and practicing that epic dirty dancing lift – yes, Dane and I are that couple. 

Keep an eye out for my next blog post while I’m away which will be about Berlin marathon training on holiday with just 11 weeks to go!

  
Ciao. 🙂