Venice is beautiful – I’m writing to you from "La Serrenissima" and enjoying myself quite a bit. Getting here was a job but all is fine now that the jet lag has faded. What a place – the fantastical architecture, the canals, the gondolas, even the sunlight – all create the impression of being someplace special.
Internet Cafes are, surprisingly, not very common here and though my hotel is equipped, I thought I’d not hog their one computer for this post. I’m also using a non-US keyboard so bear with me if there are any weird typos.
My frequent flyer-provided 1st class ticket on Virgin Ailines was a little disappointing. The service and food was great as always but Virgin has installed these "fold flat" seats that didn’t work well for me. They’re arranged in a herringbone pattern inside the plane which actually decreases your privacy and places "walls" on each side of your seat which, though low, seemed confining to me. And, across from me was a coulple that stayed up all night yapping which kept me awake part of the time.
So I didn’t really enjoy the flight much. The Revivals Lounge at Heathrow, with its private bathroom, shower, and breakfast buffet was very appreciated, however. Then I caught a Baby BMI flight for Venice (which included a 35 minute delay due to "European air traffic congestion") and, after an inflight nap or two, was soon in Italy. The Marco Polo Airport is actually on the mainland so I had to take a bus to the Piazzale Roma terminal on the island of Venice. From there I boarded a vaporetto (water bus), lugging my suitcase aboard the boat, and eventually made it to San Marco Plaza. Pulling your wheeled suitcase over pavers and cobble stones is a treat and you have to carry it over bridges, which typically have steps – so packing light is recommended. At last, I gratefully made it to Hotel Campiello, located on the Calle di Vin (street of wine – imagine that), and its welcome air conditioning, at about 5 PM.
European hotel rooms are somewhat different than American rooms. The toilet, for example features two different flush buttons, each dispensing a different amount of water. The bidet, which I’ve never used, is a regular feature, of course. The shower, which in many European hotels can leave a lot to be desired, is excellent here at the Hotel Campiello. Naturally, the whole bathroom and bedroom are small by our standards but that’s okay with me. I have a nice window out onto the street and the room is clean.
My initial foray into San Marco Plaza started with a dinner of pizza and wine on a little backstreet in a tiny restaurant. Both were excellent and the house red wine, without any sulfites, was tasty. Doesn’t sound like a very adventurous menu, does it? Well, when I travel my eating schedule gets thrown off and sometimes you just need to get some food into you, which was the case last night. As for San Marco itself, my initial reactions: beautiful architecture, tons of tourists, almost as many *&$/!# pigeons, wonderful open air seating at 7 restaurants, each with a 3-4 piece band playing, and good gelato.
In the evening, the women all dress up very nicely for dinner and their boyfriends/husbands toss on a clean shirt over their jeans and tennis shoes. I concur with my friends who’ve been here and reported that the women are beautiful and very fashion-conscious.
It is interesting to be in a city with no cars or other motorized vehicles. Not even bicycles. Walking everywhere is fun, the streets and plazas are well-marked and nowhere is too far to go. I’m off now to find La Fenice, the famous opera house, and perhaps get a backstage tour. So, more notes and perhaps some pictures tomorrow.