I recently decided to go on a last minute trip to Venice so that I could take Theo to see the lady who bred him, Linda, who lives in the US but was over in Europe on holiday. We don't get to see Linda very often so it felt like an opportunity not to be missed!
Are we going to see Linda? Really? Really???!!! Yipppeeee!
I had a total of one evening and four days to get from Manchester to Venice and back with Theo. Driving from Manchester to Venice takes around 24 hours straight so that was never going to work. In the end I settled on getting from Manchester to Paris via London, and then flying from Paris to Venice and back again. This is how the mad road trip turned out ...
Late night London - a walk along the South Bank with little Theo
After a full day at work, our road trip starts with a 6.00pm appointment with our vet in Manchester (Gabriel at Woodcroft Veterinary Group) to give Theo a Tapeworm treatment and have his Pet Passport stamped so that he can come back into the UK on Monday - a worming treatment has to be given by a vet between 1 – 5 days before entry in the UK so it can be done here at home before travel if the timing works out OK which in this case it does.
I could drive from Manchester straight to Folkestone tomorrow morning but decide to stop in London for a night and we take in a late night walk along the South Bank which is pedestrianised and well lit so one of the best places in town to walk with dogs at night - and great for a photo or two!
A photo moment with Theo on the South Bank in London
I have somehow lost Theo’s Pet Passport. Frantic phone calls to our vet in Manchester and London (we used to live in London so Theo is registered there too) follow and luckily, both Woodcroft and Roehampton Veterinary Clinic are amazing and arrange a replacement passport ASAP so that we can still crack on with our trip!
So we head to Paris via the Eurotunnel - for more info see Travelling with Dogs from the UK to France). It's a 3 hour drive from Calais to our hotel near Orly airport and we arrive around 10.30pm - 4 hours later than planned. We order a cab to take us into town and wait at the hotel bar.
Waiting for a cab - Theo and Christine have a drink at the hotel bar
Our taxi takes us straight to the Eiffel Tower - Theo has always wanted to see it! Hard to get a really good photo as the tower is so brightly lit and the area around it so dark but we take a selfie anyway - it'd be rude not to!
Selfie at the Eiffle Tower with Theo
Our visit to the Eiffel Tower is followed by a walk down the River Seine to Place de la Concorde where Theo insists on having another photo in front of a big wheel!
Theo at the Roue de Paris in Place de la Concorde. He says the London Eye is more impressive ;-)
It's 1.30am and we decide it's so late that there is no point in going to bed as we have to be at the airport by 5.00am anyway. So we head for supper at Chez Denise in Châtelet–Les Halles, a twenty-four hour bistro which is amazing.
Theo is a bit sleepy so after making friends with the lady next to us, he decides to go to sleep on the bench but I wake him up so he can share my supper.
Theo tucking into some Daube de Boeuf at Chez Denise, Châtelet - Les Halles, Paris
With sleepy heads and full bellies we head back to the hotel – booked originally so we could have a good night’s sleep before we fly to Venice. If we ever do this trip again we may not bother with the hotel in Paris at all!
Theo ready to check in at Paris Orly Airport
5am arrival at Paris Orly airport ready to check in to our Transavia flight to Venice. Theo is flying in the cabin with me so we go to the check-in desk and they ask to weigh him and his travel bag on the belt. All good – he is under 10kg and they are happy for him to travel in the bag which is snug but big enough for him to lie down stretched out or curled up and to turn around in but he can’t stand up without touching the top. The flight time is 1 hour and 20 minutes so I am hoping that he won’t be too squished. I will follow up on this blog with a post on my experiences of flying with dogs.
Our flight is on time so we head straight for Departures. Security is as normal but I have to take Theo’s collars and lead off and carry him through the security scanners. The security people seemed to like him though and he makes them smile!
Theo is able to walk all the way with me to the departure gate so I wait until they call us onto the plane before opening up his little travel bag and he climbs straight in – he’s tired from such a late night in Paris! I carry him onto the plane and have to put the bag with him in it on the floor in front of me for take-off and landing.
Theo is fast asleep before we even take off and I don’t hear a peep out of him for the rest of the journey despite the hitting turbulence in the middle of the flight that makes my stomach turn!
8.30am and we've landed safely at Marco Polo Airport in Venice. Theo goes to look out for our luggage.
Bags collected and then straight to the public waterbus to take us to San Marco in the heart of Venice. No one bats an eye lid that I have a dog with me.
We arrive at San Marco and head straight for the little apartment we have booked – Ca Mariele. It’s gorgeous - and normally out of my price range but I managed to book it with a huge discount through www.booking.com. The apartment is managed by a hotel group and it really is perfect for a weekend stay in Venice.
Theo testing the bed in our apartment at Ca Mariele in Venice
Bags dropped and we venture out to explore. Not one café, restaurant or shop turns us away. No one seems to care that Theo is a dog. We even go into a very smart and expensive looking bakery filled with scrummy cakes and the staff coo over him and make a fuss.
Linda arrives in the afternoon so we head off to Piazza San Marco for the big reunion … and Theo still remembers her! When he realises who she is his tail wags like crazy, he jumps all over her and covers her with his stinkie kisses! Happy days!
Theo and Linda reunited! Linda was the reason for our mad road trip and it was so, so good to see her again!
A lazy evening follows, sitting at a café in San Marco drinking Prosecco before we head for supper at a restaurant in Campo San Stefano. The restaurant even provide us with a blanket for Theo to curl up under! I have a Charley Chau Blanket with me but accept their blanket as it is such a nice touch!
After some seriously scrummy food, we head back to our apartment and after such a long day Theo heads straight for his Snuggle Bed to dream about his adventures so far. Yes, we always travel with a Charley Chau Snuggle Bed!!!
Off we go to meet up with Linda and her family for brunch. Again, no problems at the café with Theo. Then Linda tells us she has arranged a surprise gondola trip – and Theo is allowed on the gondola! OMG!
Theo taking it easy on a gondola in Venice - such a treat! Marco, our gondolier, was super-cool and a dog fanatic too!
And more surprises … after lunch we all board a water taxi for another tour of Venice from the water. An amazing experience and wonderful to hear about the history of this beautiful city and to have the architecture explained to us by a real expert. Theo was again welcome on the boat – Venice is even more dog friendly than France and that’s hard to beat!
Theo on the Grand Canal - he was a bit miffed because he couldn't see over the edge of the motor launch!
And then it was time for our last evening with Linda and her family. So sad to say goodbye – short but sweet.
Amy, Chris, Linda and Dan - it was great to see you guys again and we hope to see you again soon!
Goodbye Venice - it was fun!
A quick run around the shops to pick up gifts for family – not least Jenny who has held the fort at HQ on her own while we’ve been away. And a last wander through Piazza San Marco before we hop on the water bus again back to Venice airport.
As with at Orly, check-in is really straight forward with Theo. He is weighed with his travel bag at the check-in desk and we’re given the OK to fly. Off we go to the departure gate and Theo walks with me all the way to the departure gate before climbing into his bag just before we board the plane.
Theo on the tarmac at Marco Polo Airport on our way to board the plane
On the flight, Theo again just settles down and goes to sleep. I guess he is not worrying about the awful things that us humans might worry about when we get on a plane! Not even the bumpiness of take off seems to bother him.
An hour and a half later and we land at Orly. As soon as we’re off the plane Theo comes out of his bag and walks with me to pick up our luggage and then we head to the car. And it’s straight back to Calais – 3 hours up the motorway.
Check in at the Eurotunnel at Calais requires us to go to the dedicated Pet Reception centre which is easy to find and we’re done in 5 minutes. We head straight through check-in and onto our train which whizzes us back to the UK in 30 mins.
More driving … from Folkestone all the way back to Manchester in 4 hours and 45 minutes. Theo sleeps all the way back in the car, dreaming of his little adventure - Manchester, London, Paris and Venice and back again in four days!
And yes, we would do it all over again given half the chance!