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Canal St Travel Expert

Introducing Gary Manners, your Canal St travel Expert.Online booking has changed the industry tremendously, but the personal touch can always provide added confidence together with many added value aspects to your trip.

Contact him today and ask about your plans.Happy to oblige and share many years of experience.

Venice. ‘Like no place on the planet’

Venice is magical and unlike any other place you will visit, built on water, dominated by canals and bridges with stunning architecture. So no such thing as just getting a cab, you will either walk or take a vaporetto (small ferry).  You can also get a water taxi but this is an expensive way of getting around and not that convenient depending on where you are located.

We stayed on Venice Lido and used a private launch (courtesy of Gary Manners, see below) to get into the city.  Line number one begins at Venice Lido and it takes 15 minutes to get to San Marco and 40 minutes to the Rialto Bridge.  It takes just over an hour to get to the top of the Grand Canal where the train station is.  A good way of getting your bearings is to go the full length of the Grand Canal. Buy vaporetto tickets from shops marked as “Tabacchi” and always validate your ticket in the machine before you travel. You may want to consider buying a pass for a few days depending on what your plans are.These are not over expensive, at just 43 Euro’s for 4 days, with unlimited usage.
Main attractions are San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, the Doge’s palace and the Camponile which is the city’s tallest building. The view is superb, taking in the Lido, the whole of the lagoon and on clear day the Dolomites in the distance.
These will be on most people’s lists to visit and all sorts of tourist information is readily available.  If you book organised tours you will skip the long queues at the Basilica for example.We chose not to and enjoyed just strolling around the city discovering it’s piazza’s and alley ways full of real bars and restaurants occupied by venetians rather than visiting tourists.
Whilst it is expensive to drink in St Mark’s Square, you should do it at least once – sit outside the cafés/bars and listen to the orchestras playing and just soak up the atmosphere.  A new phenomenon that appeared on our most recent trip was people selling bird seeds to feed the many pigeons – we politely declined!Be aware that the larger,  famous venues (Florian) will cover charge you 6 euro’s pp just to sit down and listen to the live orchestra.Drinks are also very expensive.
A unique experience however, and we loved our time there.
Generally Venice is not a city with lots of nightlife such as clubs and late bars. We found that the city closes around midnight. However over the years and on more recent trips we have noticed that it is becoming more like other destinations with people eating and drinking later in the evening.  We saw a “hen do” when we last went – not something  seen regularly in Venice.
There is the main core of the city in the centre of the lagoon.  The islands - Murano, Burano (personal favourite), Torcello and Cimitero di San Michele are to the north. Venice Lido is on the southern side of the lagoon and Giudecca is just to the south of the main core.
We enjoyed an Aperol Spritz (or two – the Venice Cocktail) at the Skyline Rooftop Bar at The Hilton (amongst several others) on Giudecca which has a panoramic view of the city of Venice. 


Check out (google) where to eat the best Cicchetti in Venice – these are local finger foods served in small local bars (Bacari) in the Lagoon frequented by locals.  Usually early evening – Apperitivo time.
The famous Harry’s Bar is perhaps the most overrated place in Venice, having said that it doesn’t do well in any current reviews.  This is because it is quite an ordinary looking bar, with disdainful waiters and the celebrated Bellini is over priced at 22 euros for a small glass. It isn’t the best – certainly not that I’ve ever tasted. They also insist on a dress code so no cut off pants or trainers for gents.  However we wanted to experience it and we’re happy that we can say we’ve been to Harry’s Bar in Venice but wouldn’t rush to go back.
We have not got any favourite restaurants in Venice, our hotels have been in all different parts of the city and therefore we have eaten in different parts of the city, we’ve tended not to take note of the names even although we’ve sometimes ended up in the same place on other visits.  We’ve found that wandering and finding the places as you go is the best way to experience the eateries of Venice.  If you do want a list of best restaurants it’s easy enough to google and your hotel is likely to recommend places.
It’s worth mentioning The Hard Rock Café in Venice, whilst you may think - why go there when in Venice.  It’s an alternative to traditional Italian fayre and it’s in a great building in a great location overlooking Bacino Orseolo which is one of the main Gondola gathering points. The restaurant has a unique Venetian stamp with a very impressive Murano glass chandelier. Good if you can get a seat overlooking the canal.
You’ll struggle to find poor quality food anywhere in Italy and Venice is no exception even food to go is in abundance and of very good quality.  In the very central tourist streets around St Mark’s Square there is good quality food to be had whilst more expensive than in areas further away.  Also you may find it is served by disdainful tourist weary waiters or ones that are keen to get you in but equally keen for you to go once they have got your business.  It is a judgement call!  There is lots of variety and there are plenty of vegetarian options although not designed to cater specifically for vegetarians, it’s just that plenty of Italian dishes don’t contain meat.
It is a treat to have a meal in a restaurant along the banks of the Grand Canal, prices vary and be mindful that some meat or fish dishes are priced per 100g not per course.
The island of Burano is famous for its lace and the coloured houses that were originally homes of fishermen and painted in different bright colours so that the fishermen could pick out their own homes when returning from fishing trips.  This is a good place to visit and to have lunch there, there are nice restaurants including good seafood ones.


Pictured is our favourite spot. which ‘reached out’ to us with its sunny aspect, and lazy feel as we gently strolled around.


The island of Murano is where the glass furnaces are and shops selling Murano glass jewellery and other goods like vases and lamps etc. If you do a tour of one the furnaces, you will see how the glass is blown etc. which is really interesting however expect to be bombarded by a hard sell – for very expensive items. Your hotel may offer a trip as part of their arrangement with a factory on Murano.
Torcello is a small island with few residents.  Tourists go to visit the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta. There are views of Burano from the bell tower and a few places to eat along the canal.
Cimitero di San Michelle is a small island where the cemetery is and is between Venice and Murano.  It is a nice place to visit if you’re seeking a few moments of quiet and solitude.


There will be free maps available at your hotel, wherever you are it’s easy to get around by walking or taking a vaporetto. The train station is at the Northern end of the Grand Canal, Rialto bridge crosses the Grand Canal about half way along and San Marco is at the Southern end of the Grand Canal.  These are useful landmarks as they are signposted from many parts of the city and this will help you navigate your way around.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, it is an interesting collection and the museum is easy to get to by walking across the bridge at Accademia. If you like modern art, even if you’re not an aficionado it’s worth a visit.
There are some waterside bars with good reviews including Al Chioschetto which is not far from The Guggenheim and is on the Zattere which is a promenade that runs along the southern shore of Venice’s Dorsoduro district.
Whilst there is the usual tourist tat on offer in Venice, there are loads of wonderful shops with amazing window displays selling genuine quality Venetian goods. If you are buying glass make sure it is genuine Murano glass because there are lots of Chinese imports.  The masks are amazing and some places offer mask making workshops.  There is a high end fashion area selling top designer gear this is quite close to San Marco.  There is also the usual high street names like Zara, H &M and even Clarks shoes.
Lots to see and do, you won’t do it all in this one trip. Part of the charm of the city is letting it reveal itself as you wander around and frequently end up in dead end streets but always with something to see.
Our travel expert Gary Manners organised the entire trip (including gratis lounge access as #canalstcard holders) and showed exceptional expertise and service, before, during and after our return.
We highly recommend a chat whatever your travel plans or ideas.

Published on - Sat, 20 Apr 2019

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Published on - Wed, 03 Apr 2019

This week, we’re taking you on an adventure around every continent and sharing some of our favourite...

This week, we’re taking you on an adventure around every continent and sharing some of our favourite tours and expeditions, from six spectacular Southeast Asian festivals to our favourite Indian Ocean island escapes. We’re also showcasing a selection of incredible offers including a romantic getaway to Sandy Lane in Barbados and a fun-filled family escape in Cyprus.

As always, if you don’t quite find what you’re looking for, get in touch to discuss a tailored experience that will exceed your every expectation.

With exciting cities, fantastic weather, a famously beautiful coastline, friendly locals and a wealth of natural attractions, Australia has something that will appeal to all tastes  

Explore awe-inspiring Australasia

Contact me to book now Gary Manners 01618 267430

Always remember to mention #canalstcard if you are a holder for a choice benefits.

#canalstmcr #lgbt

Published on - Fri, 22 Mar 2019

Summer taster ideas from Gary Manners..

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are must-see destinations but if you’ve already ticked those off your list or if you fancy something a little different, then Oman is a good call.

Al Bandar is one of two hotels and the main focal point at the humongous Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort, which quite rightly feels like a destination in itself. The close to 200 sea-facing guestrooms at this five-star deluxe property boast an Arabian inspiration and many offer lush views over the Gulf of Oman or the deep turquoise blue waters of the Sea of Oman.

Not every hotel has its own art gallery but this one does, and after you savour the exquisite Arabian flavours of tender roasted meats at Al Tanoor restaurant, you’ll still have another eight food outlets to dine at. With so many options to recharge and refuel, there’s little reason to leave the resort but if do you venture out, Oman’s port capital of Muscat is just 20 minutes away.

Koh Samui

Designed to mimic a Thai village, the five-star Melati Beach Resort & Spa is one of Koh Samui’s leading resorts and is set beside a white-sand beach amid landscaped tropical gardens.

Most of the 77 suites and villas at this luxurious hotel come with private pools, while the more lavish villas boast extras like private gardens with dining areas, home theatres and an in-room spa service.

It’s quite simply a haven of relaxation and its spa is the resort’s crowning jewel, offering revitalising ‘Indigenous Coconut Experiences.’ These award-winning treatments combine a unique blend of natural ingredients and traditional herbs with modern massage techniques for a totally unique relaxation. There’s even a spa room for the kids!

Come meal times, you can dine at the Kan Sak Thong Restaurant, specialising in the finest authentic Thai cuisine and fusion cuisine, or The View Restaurant on the beachfront, serving Mediterranean and international menu and fresh locally caught seafood.

With two swimming pools, a pool bars, lobby bar and beach bar, you’ll never struggle to stay refreshed. Seize the opportunity to immerse yourself in Koh Samui’s fascinating culture with activities like Muay Thai boxing, Thai cooking classes, eco safari tours, seabed walking and reef snorkelling.


If ever a resort adopted a ‘quality not quantity’ attitude, it’s Paradise Island Villas in Crete. Consisting of just 12 elegant, yet minimally styled villas, this exclusive five-star boutique resort combines discrete personal service with comfort and luxury to serve up a fresh slice of paradise.

Each villa has been individually styled to create its own personality and comes with private gardens, a swimming pool, a custom-made mattress bed with white cotton and silk linens and a choice of beautiful pillows for a perfect night’s sleep.

Another great choice for families is the five-star Anemos Luxury Grand Resort. Recognised as Europe’s Best Luxury Beach Hotel and Best Luxury Honeymoon Hotel at the 2018 World Luxury Hotel Awards, it’s a luxury seaside haven and sits next to the longest coastline of northern Crete overlooking the Cretan Sea.

It’s easy to unwind here. Take to a sun lounger on the sandy Blue Flag beach, snorkel the clear Mediterranean waters and indulge with a soothing olive oil and raki massage at the spa.

The Anemos’ various rooms and suites incorporate the Greek and the local Cretan architecture with luxurious, modern facilities and amenities. Some come with a private or sharing pool, but everyone has access to the four outdoor and single indoor pools.

For a more relaxed time away from any hustle and bustle, I would recommend a trip to the old village of Hersonissos. Here, you can immerse yourself in the Greek culture and way of life, which is more laid back and carefree.”

Find out about these any many other options for your 2019 getaway at

Published on - Tue, 12 Feb 2019