Joan Bowers took her daughter and granddaughter on a once-in-a-lifetime city break to Venice, her favourite city. She shared her love of gondolas, opera and cafe culture on an unforgettable holiday
Joan: I think everybody should go to Venice once in their lives. I’ve always loved Italy and now that I’m in my 80s I decided to take my daughter Jo and granddaughter Jess on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
On a previous visit I took a motor boat across the lagoon to the city. It’s magical to arrive in Venice by boat and I really wanted the girls to experience it so we jumped in a water taxi and the girls loved it.
During our stay, we arranged a boat to the Murano glass factory and we were treated like royalty. I think Jess fell in love with one of the glass blowers.
We spent our days exploring the city, chatting and laughing together in cafes and restaurants and wandering around the lanes looking at the incredible architecture.
It was so special to have my daughter and granddaughter with me in one of my favourite cities. The fact that the three of us were from different generations intrigued the waiters. They thought it was so wonderful.
When you travel with other people, you discover new things all the time. I loved exploring the different parts of the city with my daughter and granddaughter and I’m so glad we got to take the trip.
Jo Bishop-Laggett, Joan’s daughter, is 54 and a school secretary
Jo: We flew into Marco Polo airport because Mum wanted Jess and I to experience the water taxis. The boat takes you across the lagoon from the mainland and it was just the most fantastic start to the holiday. The stretch of water is abuzz with boats zipping to and fro. It was so lovely.
Italians are so family-orientated and the waiters and people we met in Venice loved that we were three generations of mothers and daughters.
The only downside was Mum had forgotten that getting on and off boats is not very easy when you’re 83. Same goes for the steps on the little bridges. She did really well, though.
Jess and I we got up really early one morning and went for a stroll around the city.
We sat outside the opera house having coffee while the streets were being cleaned and people were setting up their shops for the day. It was wonderful to sit and watch the city come alive.
We were enchanted with Venice. The streets, the cafes, the canals, the gondolas and the food were just incredible.
It was very special to have all three of us there. It may never happen again, so we will really treasure our memories.
Then again, Mum loves travelling and is always up for an adventure. When we arrived home after Venice, she asked, ‘Well, where are we going next year?!’
Jess is 25, lives in Norwich and is a freelance marketing professional:
Jess: Throughout my childhood, my grandma always talked about Venice and how much I’d love it. She’s very into opera, culture, architecture and she’s so well-travelled. Those passions have definitely rubbed off on me and II remember her promising to take me to see an opera in Venice one day.
Out of the blue, I had a call from my mum asking if I wanted to go on a girlie holiday where we could explore, drink Prosecco and finally experience a beautiful city I had been told so much about as a child.
We stayed in an amazing hotel that looked out on the Grand Canal. My grandma kept pointing stuff out and saying, “Your granddad and I went there!”
We are a very close family, but our trip made me appreciate my mum and grandma even more. We all enjoy great food and great wine and have a love of different languages and architecture.
I’ll never forget the feeling of arriving at the airport, getting on the speedboat and cruising into Venice.
I took selfies on the boat with my mum and grandma and thought, “Wow, I’m finally here.” This is exactly what I imagined.”