Saturday, March 3, 2012

Venice - Where The ?!!?! Is Our Hotel?

My partner grew up in Florida and has always had a love affair with water. As an aside, I am somewhat aqua phobic. As he gazed out at the canal he commented on how wonderful the next days would be for him due to his fondness for the water, even if the water in the canals is rather brackish, to say the least. We descended the steps, luggage in hand and boarded the water bus for our first trip down the canal towards our hotel.

It was at this point that we discovered that the Goggle maps provided by the Internet booking agents are not always what one would consider reliable. I tried in vain to correlate the map on our reservation sheet with the Venice street map in our guidebook. We finally resorted to asking the boat pilot where to get off. He told us, brusquely, that it would be a while before we would get to our stop. Boating our way down the Grand Canal we passed St Marks Square, with it towering Campanile, the beautiful, landmark Bridge of Sighs and traveled under the Via Venneto, the major bridge over the Grand Canal. Getting nervous about the distance we had traveled I checked again with the pilot who informed me we were not "there" yet. Finally the boat docked next to a public park at the farthest tip of the city and he announced that we had reached our destination.

My partner converted our largest bag into a wagon, piled the other bags on top of it and using our guidebook map, I led us across the park to the street where our hotel was supposed to be located. The street turned out to be a broad plaza in a largely residential neighborhood. A group of children were playing a game of soccer in the middle of the plaza, a fruit and vegetable stand stood off to one side of it. The address for our hotel was in the 1900's. We immediately had cause for concern when the addresses on the buildings on the street did not go above 8000. After stopping a few people in the street, none of whom seemed to have a command of the English language, my partner noticed a beauty salon. Being a hair stylist himself, he exclaimed "International Society of Hairdressers, go ask them!" Stepping into the salon I found the employees sitting talking with one another. When I queried "Parla Engles" they looked at one another and shook their heads no. In desperation, I pulled out our reservation sheet and pointed at the address. They all nodded their heads in acknowledgement and one got up and went out the door with me trailing behind.

Seeing my partner with the wagon of luggage she motioned for us to follow her. She led us a short way down the street and pointed to an arched entrance to a gangway that led into a courtyard. We thanked her and proceeded down the gangway. Entering the courtyard we found the numbers on the buildings were in the 9000's. Laundry hung from lines strung across the yard, It is worth noting that the same laundry was still hanging there two days later making us wonder if it was prop laundry used in an attempt to create old world atmosphere.

Passing through this courtyard into a second one buried deeper behind the street we found our hotel. A former Doges home hundreds of years old. Inside the door we found a small room with an inlaid marble floor and tiny reception desk. The gentleman who greeted us, after checking us in, apologized for the lack of a lift and let us up a narrow staircase with notably short risers. I surmised that peoples legs must have been shorter back in the day. When we got to the second floor he pointed out a room to our left. It had beautifully painted walls, a glass chandelier and three french windows at it's far end. Furnished with tables, chairs and a station for making cappuccino, a drink that would become ubiquitous on this trip, it was where breakfast, included with the room, was served each morning. Our room was on the top floor. I assume that it had been either servant's quarters or children's rooms. He opened the door. We walked down the narrow hallway past the bath into the room itself.

Our heads immediately turned upwards to gaze in amazement at the ceiling. Under the peaked roof above our heads massive, ancient round wooden beams crossed the room. We then took in the lovely period reproduction furnishings and the three tiny dormer windows along one wall. When we opened the shutters we discovered our view was of a tiled roof. I could never make out if it was another part of the building we were in or an adjoining one due to the close confines of the structures in the city. Depositing our bags we ventured out to explore Venice.

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