The Venetian Affair

The Venetian Affair

 

The Idea is born

Two years ago my beloved and I decide to take on a European grand tour. I, of course, because my extensive traveling over the years believe that I can do a better job than travel agents and the internet has just made that easier. My experience of landing at JFK with a transfer to a flight leaving from La Guardia for LA an hour later, just being one of many examples of the travel agent's meticulous planning. The Vagaries of New York traffic and the fact that that airports are at least 70km apart obviously being know to the aforesaid agent to test my navigating and timekeeping skills and ability after a 20 hour overnight flight from Johannesburg. Or on another occasion a flight into London Airport with a connection to Europe from Stanstead Airport about 30 miles away with worse traffic was a similar illuminating experience. I won't even talk about hotels in the wrong place. Not understanding what Downtown in a US city means and so on.

Planning the trip

So I started planning our trip. I initially wanted to go to Paris for about 7 days end of trip.

Dearly beloved had other ideas. "What about London and Brussels and Switzerland and Nice and Venice"she said. You get the picture, now we had a journey of note on our hands.

I decided the nicest way to do all these places were by train. So I did my homework. First Eurail pass, train timetables, types of trains. I also assessed how many connections we would need to make and so forth.

I prebooked hotels In Paris and London (more or less the beginning and end of the trip) and planned to book the rest on a last minute, Information at train stations basis.

So all the planning was done, flights were booked and off we went.

Paris

Our first hotel was fair. Paris was wonderful, we had 3 days sightseeing. We did everything.we sailed up the Seine via a Batobus. Saw the Eiffel Tower, Seine, Notre Dame Cathedral as well as the Louvre, where we saw amongst other things Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisas. It was also the height of the Dan Brown Da Vinci Code hype so we saw the places in the book and Da Vinci Code tours were coming into vogue. We also had a Paris by night bus tour culminating in dinner at the Eiffel tower. After 3 wonderful days it was time to get onto the train to Nice.

Nice

We had booked a coupe on the train . In our country a coupe is a two berth private berth on a train and expected it to be the same.. We discovered to our horror that we shared this with another couple. Well sleeping with perfect strangers who only spoke broken English and French. We had no French apart from a few phrases like Bonjour Merci and Bien. We thought they would rob us during the night and they harbored similar sentiments. We slept with our clothes on. We had the top bunks. We had to change only once wewere up in the cramped bunks, and under cover, keeping our underclothes on. During the night we somehow managed to kick our wallets and purses off the bunk onto our fellow passengers below. There followed much huffing and puffing, putting lights on and off, apologizing while clambering all over them to find our stuff. They were clearly terrified. At about 3.30am they got up, lights on again and packed up going into the corridor saying that they had to ge off soon. When we arose around 7am they were still in the corridor apparently waiting for the train to arrive at their station! A day in Nice , bus tour and walking on the famous Promenade des Anglais, a running alongside the Mediterranean. We also walked on the pebbled beaches The Hotel was adequate and our next challenge was the train to Venice.

Venice

No problem, great train, airline type seating and a comfortable journey. But we did not know that there are two Venice train stops, Venice Messe and Venice proper.

Luckily a fellow traveler gave us the right advice or we would have ended up in the dark at the wrong place.

Booking the Hotel

On arrival I went to the last minute info place and booked a hotel. But To get there! Firstly we had to use a Vaporetto (water Taxi) and go to the right station. We wanted to go to St Marks Station but again a helpful stranger guided us to the right station or once again we would have ended up lost.

Finding the Hotel

Our directions were very rudimentary. There are no easily visible street names. Eventually after a series of turn left , turn right maneuvers and a little yelling and screaming at each other, crossing bridges, canals and stairways, we find a doorway. We look at each other in dismay. Can this be the hotel? We are now tired, sore from lugging suitcases (wheels on suitcases are no good on cobbled streets with many stairways). I open the doorway with trepidation and a swarthy distinctly Arabic looking gentleman greats us. No No this is not the hotel. "I take you to Hotel' "Nice Massage in hotel" "Nice Hotel" Nice Breakfast". He takes our passports and booking document and grabs dearly beloved's suitcase and off we march.

Now by this time, dearly beloved is in a tizz. It is pitch dark, no street lights everything, is boarded up an away we go. Up and down and round and round narrow deserted streets. Where are we where are we going wails dearly beloved.. Dearly beloved is trying to wrestle back her back "NO NO I carry" says our minder. Imagine a 5foot nothing slip of a girl against the hunchback of Notre dame - no contest.

The Hotel

Any way we finally arrive at what looks like a hotel from a horror movie, looming up out of the canal opposite a bridge. No lights, no entrance nothing. This guy pushes a brass key slug into a groove and the door opens - darkness.

He stamps his foot and the lights go on. Empty reception area and a stairway covered in a linen protective cover like an abandoned house. Dearly beloved is by now close to hysterics. We get taken upstairs and into a room. A magnificent room.I has sculptures, wrought brass, exquisite double bed and a magnificent shower with a built in massage nozzles. This was the massage our guide kept referring to as ‘the massage" which caused dearly beloved so much angst!

We then say here are no people where are the people. He say "No worry, lotsa people, you see at breakfast tomorrow!' I insist that here are no people. Eventually he knocks at a door opposite and two very frightened looking woman open the door. We explain the no people thing. They hug us with relief saying "thanks god for other people in the hotel'.

They booked over the internet and had also recently arrived. They harbored similar fears to ours.

Dinner

I now decide that we need dinner. Dearly beloved is busy barricading the door with a chair saying I am going nowhere. I say fine You can stay on your own. She changes her mind quickly, particularly after I remove the brass key thingy from a groove that it was stuck in and (after a few seconds) much to our alarm the lights go out. Suppressed hysterics return. We now look for a fuse box or a switch board. We check all the switches in the dark. I then, out of frustration at holding this large brass key holder, while looking for switches stick this brass thing into the holder. Poof! the lights are back. This damn thing only allows the lights to work when it is inserted. We calm down and prepare to leave for dinner.

We find a restaurant, have a lovely dinner and, miraculously, find our way back to the "abandoned" hotel. We figure that we are in a hotel that has not opened for the summer yet, but this Arab guy is working some scam as we think we're paying far too little per day.

The next day I go for my run and on my return the landing has miraculously turned into a breakfast room with people and waiters. A miracle indeed! It aturns out that the one wall is a removable partition which opens up like a concertina and reveals all. We eat a perfectly respectable breakfast and our Venetian 3 day stay truly begins.

The next surprise is all the boarded up alleyways have had the boards remove to reveal shop after shop with magnificent shop windows a true cornucopia of wonderful shops.. These were concealed by the boards as we walked down, what had appeared to us as deserted alleyways the previous night.

Checking Out

On the last day, we are really worried, we still have no passports, we have bill to pay ( I had only paid he deposit so far). We have breakfast and the waitress says "I see that you are checking out today, please sort everything out at reception". To date (3 days) the reception has been an empty shell. Today it is manned. There is a credit card machine and our bill is presented. We were worried, as we felt the quality of accommodation far exceeded the quoted cost. But low and behold cost was as quoted less the deposit. So we paid and were sorry to go.

We were now off to Lucerne for the next leg of our trip.

But the rest of the trip is perhaps another hub.

Comments 22 comments

B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 8 years ago from Hell, MI

Oh, sorry sixty. I thought the title was The Venusian Affair! I'm planning a trip there, and Travelocity doesn't have any hotel info. I certainly hope my trip goes more smoothly than yours!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

Worry not! The electric eels have just finished the schematics for the Venusian 'Lope Hotel. Coming soon.


ASHWINSPGA profile image

ASHWINSPGA 8 years ago from Lion City ( Singapore)

I was fearing the worse for you when i came towars the end, but thankfully you got out in one piece. but saying that, things kind of even itself out for you in the end. Great job in relating this experience sir.


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

I was laughing at the way you described the events, and your dear beloved reactions, I think I would the same reactions, such as barricading the door. LOL! And yikes, sharing a room with strangers that would make very, very uncomfortable! As Ashpwinspga commented, I am also glad you got out in one piece!


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

BT I will be there on October 3 and 4. Check this out http://palazzodalcarlo.com/.

I will be staying there. More hair raising stuff to come Part 2 soon coming to your laptop. Not quite the Venusian affair but sometimes I think I might be from Mars

Patty can't wait to be at the opening. Electric Eclectic Eel Light Orchestra and all with a cast of thousands of topless female Jackalopes. It will make Vegas look penny ante.

Ashwin Thanks for stopping by and your kind words. Much appreciated!

Violetsun Yes it is quite amusing in telling the story, but at the time!. You had to be there. Thanks for stopping by and enriching this hub with your comments.


Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

Great Hub, The whole trip seemed too hectic and harrowing for a laid back traveler like me to undergo. I have a problem finding the best route to Cape Town, and only managed to find most central wine farms.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Good traveller's tales here! Everyone should see Venice while they still can. It's still magnificent, but being swallowed by the sea.


Ananta65 8 years ago

Great hub, sixtyorso. Trips are so much memorable when they offer some kind of adventure and unexpected events :) I bet you and your loved one will remember this one!


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Good hub, Sixty. I would definitely use a travel agent for future trips.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Rodney Hectic is part of the fun. Just wait for part 2

Paraglider, I agree Venice is wonderful. We are going back On October 3 and 4. But this time as the end of a Mediterranean cruise.

Ananta, My dearly beloved still talks about this trip. Regaling acquaintances with the story, which she starts and I have to tell the tale, amid much laughter!

Constant thanks for the compliments. I actually prefer doing my own itinerary It is part of the fun. The planning that is. BTW the hotels booked by the airline people (Paris and London) were the worst ones with the worst access and highest cost (value for money that is) of the entire trip. 

To All of you thanks for stopping by and adding your valued comments.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

What a great adventure. And you were so worried about being robbed-- that you tossed your belongings down to the strangers.

Most of your experiences indicate the people in general tend to be helpful and kind.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Rochelle thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated as always


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

The adventure and your wonderful spirit would make any trip fun...no matter what you went through..I think it is so nice that you have such a great relationship and love for one another. Wish I was there LOL Thank you so much for a delightful re-capture of a trip never to be forgotten..G-Ma :o) hugs


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. i believe the comments greatly enhance a hub.


Brainstormer profile image

Brainstormer 8 years ago from Australia

Terrific Hub, very good read and a great trip. You can plan our next trip through Venice if you like. I loved your of doing it by train, well I did until you explained about the couple thing and I nearly wept as you described their fear of being robbed.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Brain Thanks for your valued comments. I feel that comments build on the hub and are an important part of hub writing. The trip actually got ivery nteresting later on . I ntend to do a part 2 Venice to Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Belgium England finally back to France and home.

I am also delighted that you have become my fan.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

What an adventure...a book for sure!! the best vacations are disasters...and later the best memories!! LOL this was a fun read...I felt like I was there....more more...can't wait.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Marisue Part 2 isnow available! Thanks for your wonderful support as always.


ajcor profile image

ajcor 8 years ago from NSW. Australia

loved the bit where you are trying to get undressed under the blankets on the top bunk - a bit contorting I would imagine - all the while I imagine, trying to keep your noise level down so that you don't frighten the people below - that is until you lose your wallets onto them and they decide that it would be better to actually get up, get dressed & wait in the corridor for quite some hours to alight - just so you don't come down and ravage them!! again.  I am still laughing at the picture you paint. cheers.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Ajcor Glad you appreciated the situation. It is quite funny now but at the time! I love reliving hese experiences as they kind of keep them fresh. What a pity to have a good time and it kind of dissapears with your daily life into a mist of mostly forgotttent events. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. much appreciated


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

I loved this hub Sixty! It reminded me of my inter-railing adventures as a teenager. I stayed in the Youth Hostel in Venice, and I well remember the queue outside the Hostel. We were fortunate enough to get in, but some girls behind us were turned away, and advised to try the convent round the corner. I've often wondered what kind of accomodation the nuns had on offer!


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Amanda, Glad you were able to get some good memories of your own from this hub. Hopefully your friends at the convent were not as badly off as Misty's sister was in her recollection of their schooldays in a convent!

FYI Part 2 is the continuation of this trip.

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

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