It’s a very foggy morning here in Amsterdam and a fine time to finish a few left-over thoughts from my visit to Venice.
I cannot emphasize enough how difficult it is to get around Venice with a suitcase in tow. Almost all the streets are made with pavers or cobble stones, which are horrible on suitcase wheels. There are a lot of canals, so there are a lot of bridges you may have to carry your suitcase over. Knowing how to get to your hotel and planning a route in advance is essential, and may affect which vaporetto (water bus) you take. Street signs and building numbers are often non-existent. Don’t think that Google will necessarily show you the way, either. I can’t tell you how often I see folks dragging their bags, looking at their cell phones in panicky confusion as darkness nears. Google can be, and often is, highly inaccurate in Venice and the availability of cellular signals can be spotty. If you’re lucky, your hotel has noticed this and worked with Google to correct their information. If not, well… another piece of good advice is plan to get to Venice by midday or early afternoon. Get your hotel to send you exact instructions about finding it. And, unless you’re wealthy and can afford a private motorboat taxi ($100-120 one-way to/from airport) and a stay at a luxury hotel with a canal-side dock ($500+/night) do not even think of bringing more than one wheeled suitcase per person. The crowds on vaporettos and the walkways make this a horrible experience.
I saw something interesting the other day: a sign at a shop saying “Stamps and mailbox available here”. Now, this is probably news to the Italian Poste system, because this had nothing to do with them and, I think, borders on fraud. I have always been successful sending postcards and letters via the Poste but perhaps their track record is poor, because private mail systems have appeared. Yes, when I asked in the shop, it turns out they sell special “GPS Mail” stamps (at twice the price of those from Poste) and they have their own private “mailbox” for you to use. The stamps include a bar code and, as their flyer breathlessly informs you, if you get their app you can track your postcard! Now, this sounds to me like a solution looking for a problem, but perhaps there is a demand for it. Or maybe their real goal is to get you to buy/install their app. I saw one other private postal system advertised elsewhere in Venice, too.
Venice has become a bit like Disneyland: way too many tourists and an over abundance of cheap trinket shops and pushy sidewalk vendors. The mental strain of just walking anywhere or riding a vaporetto is very tiresome. There were a few times when I was distinctly aware of how unsafe my situation was due, for example, to complete blockage of aisles by suitcases inside a boat (you’re supposed to leave them in a special area up front but perhaps there was no room there). Tourists pay no mind to conductors, many of whom just stop trying. I’m afraid the lustre has gone off a bit for me, but maybe coming a little later in the year (as I usually do) would help.