An Adventure to Venice
Hotel Holiday was a very nice surprise. We each had our own room (76 Euro each for the night), parking, and continental breakfast. Although, the bed was basically two twins, each one had a reading light. This always makes Peg happy.
We checked in, got quickly settled and went looking for our bus stop to the Grand Canal. With a mere gesture of “no” the bus driver told us to ignore the one Euro charge. Our bus parked within a hundred yards from the tour boat ticket office. We each bought a 15 Euro bus and boat combination-ticket good for twenty-four hours.
We had been told to ride the entire one hour boat trip around the city and then just like in Rome hop on or hop off where we needed to go. After riding the bus for two days, I’m still not sure if it is best to stand or sit. Inside it can be hot and stuffy. The seats offer a place to sit, but comfort was never part of their design specs. Handholds were never considered in the basic design for standees, however. Standing gets you fresh air, which can be a relief, but you end up stumbling around. The best place to sit is in the stern (about six seats) or the bow (again, about six seats). Whether you are boating through the canals or eating beside the Grand Canal (main street), it’s just plain interesting to watch the traffic.
From The Merchant of Venice in Shakespeare, to Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes, to James Bond and Casino Royale, we’ve seen romantic images of Venice with its gondolas, its bridges, its palaces, and doorways you can step into from a late night rowboat. Real life, even mixed with an occasional floating orange peel or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrapper is still a sight to see.
We rode the boat and came back to St. Mark’s Square. The square is full of pigeons just like every scene you’ve seen on movie screens since the 1930s. You can buy pigeon feed (which they say is mixed with birth control drugs) and have the little doves eating out of your hand. Randy and I watched our collection of backpacks as everyone else disappeared into the church and took a tour. Peg loved the mosaics and opulent gold leaf on every arch and dome.
We decided to have lunch. Taking heed of Rick Steve’s warning that the restaurants nearer the canal are more expensive we headed inward, but found that local merchants also read Rick’s books. The further away the more expensive the prices seemed to be. Eventually, we ran out of time as they began to close for the afternoon. We visited the Devil’s Forest Pub for sandwiches and beer, which stays open all day. Our Liverpudlian bartender joined Peter Tosh on CD singing the reggae version (and one of my favorite renditions) of Johnny B. Goode, “Mama said son you gotta be a man, You gotta be the leader of a reggae band.” We had entertainment as well as sandwiches.
After our refreshments and body-moving, happy-time music at the bar we began a slow trip back to the canal. It was slow because of shopping, both window and real.
Peg bought some nice Murano earrings. Peg also bought bracelets and necklaces later on the island of Murano, but in Venice she also bought lady’s fans for granddaughters. Other people bought their trinkets as well. Finally Donn pointed out that everything was not closed until dinnertime. Some of the restaurants on the Grand Canal were serving patrons. This was good news.
I was hot and tired . . . and cranky. I was ready to be comfortable, but even though our restaurant was serving outside it was still too warm inside their canopy to accommodate cold-blooded diners. Our waiter kindly disconnected one of the canopy heaters just for me. I was happy. Sue wrapped up a little tighter in her sweater . . . and was almost as happy. Peg then joined us, and complained about the heat . . . unprompted.
The food was excellent, the staff was exceptional, the view was . . . well, we could have watched it for hours, but the food and wine were making us weary. The prices? We were on the Grand Canal, but they were worth it. I would have paid more. Other friends staying at a hotel on the Grand Canal did pay more. Their simple dinner came to over two hundred Euro. Dinner for Peg and I was not simple, but only came to about half that . . . okay, a bit more than half that. This was a rare adventure and I even ordered seconds of a pasta dish. Randy ordered an extra bowl of soup. How often do you get to sit on the Grand Canal with people you love? Why not enjoy it to the fullest? When we left, we were full.
After eating we took the boat back to the main dock, where Peg and I couldn’t find toilets. When we also found out that our bus was full, I gave up and ordered a cab. Eveyone else took the next bus and had seats. When Rob and Vickie, who were traveling on their own, left they also opted for a cab. Why struggle? Make yourself comfortable. Spend a little bit more and take pleasure in the moment.
Back at the hotel we made ourselves at home. I checked our email and then took a shower. Peg had the window wide open. We had lots of freeway noise, but it was cooler that way. The bathroom offered a tub with a half-partition and a handheld shower nozzle. It wasn’t as good as we have at home, but it was welcome. Feeling more like myself I went back downstairs to the bar for some Sprite and mineral water and two plastic glasses of ice!!! The barman, a black African was very accommodating, but our foreign language skills unfortunately matched.
In our room Peg read, while I watched TV. This is quite often how we spend a late evening together at home, but Peg said, “for some reason, while you were watching TV, it annoyed me. I had gotten used to the quiet with no TV in the bedroom.” Oh, well. So much for romance.
The next morning we all joined up at different times for a nice continental breakfast, which featured ham slices and soft-boiled eggs. I think I ate three eggs. They were perfect. One thing I really enjoyed about the hotel was their dining area. There was a private dining area within the larger dining room, which could be closed off. This let our small group enjoy ourselves privately, while a much larger group of Japanese talked and ate just outside the small alcove where we drank coffee and snacked.
Rob and Vickie had beat our arrival time by several hours the day before driving to Venice, but were still lost for about thirty minutes. Driving in the area around Venice is a little confusing. We all grabbed the bus back to Venice. Arriving there we had missed the direct boat to Murano, so it took almost an hour and a half on the boat that made all the stops. This was too much for me. When we arrived on the island of Murano, I quickly enquired about prices for the water taxi for the return trip . . . just in case. We hustled off to the glass factory.