Whilst staying in our palatial hotel in Florence, we decided to do an overnight trip to Venice, just taking an overnight bag each and leaving our luggage at the hotel. Having been to Venice a couple of times already, I knew this was a smart move. We also decided not to scrimp on a hotel and stay somewhere nice. Our Florence Hotel receptionist advised us to go to the hotel booking agent in the station as they have a list of all the hotel rooms available and the best last minute rates.
The very pleasant two hour train trip went fast and gave me time to write some more blog updates for you!
We arrived in Venice and rushed to the hotel booking office. We were third in line and still had to wait what felt like an eternity…in the stinking Venetian heat. “190 euro for 4-star or 150 euro for 3-star, both centrally located” we were told. Oh what the hey, we’ll go 4-star. We were expecting almost a suite, or a big plush room with heaps of nice soaps and bits to take from the bathroom. Maybe there’d be a fluffy robe, or a spa bath? Excitement!
Hotel Bonvecchiati was very centrally located between the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square. It was a big hotel and our room was on the 6th floor by lift, then we had to walk up another flight of stairs to our floor. Mmm, had we been upgraded to the penthouse?
The porter opened the door and our box room was revealed. Oh how DISAPPOINTMENT!! The room was small – just a meter wider each side of the bed. The bathroom was all marble, lovely, but small. There was a rain shower head above the bath, but no spa bath. No fluffy robes. No nice things from the bathroom we could pinch, only shampoo and a plastic shower cap. The TV was not even a flat screen TV and there was no free wifi!!! 190 euro per night and there’s no free wifi!! GRRRRR.
I felt that we’d been ripped off. But that was just the beginning.
It was hot. Hot hot sweatingly stinkingly hot. We didn’t walk very far – just far enough to see St Mark’s square and the huge queue to get in, and a few streets back to find a cafe. Zorba wanted a panini on the run, I wanted to find somewhere to sit down at eat. We found a nice looking cafe that had reasonably priced panini as well as other things like salads, and tables in the shade. Done! We went in and I saw the choice of cicchetti or antipasti – mm-mmmm. My eyes start growing bigger than my stomach, as per usual. We were told to sit and our order would be taken.
I order the cicchetti – mixed antipasti – for two, a beer for the guzzling Greek, and a big bottle of water. The antipasti comes and it’s one plate with six things on it – oh how disappointment. I asked it if was for two, and I was told yes. At 15 euro a plate, presuming it was 30euro for two, I was livid. As was Zorba who said we should have just got a panini…blah blah blah. I asked the waitress where the sardines were that were on display and she asked if we wanted sardines, Zorba said yes, and that’s what we had for lunch, except I didn’t eat the sardines. The bill came and I breathed a sigh of relief when I realised they only charged us for one serve of antipasti. Still, at 38 euro for hardly anything, we were both hot and cranky.
I walked to the bar on the corner and bought myself a panini and bought Zorba one too and found a little spot in the shade by a canal where we eat. We should have just done that in the first place!
Venice is nice, but boy it’s hard to see the magic when you are constantly surrounded by Americans talking loud, getting in your earhole, being pushed past all the time, in sweltering heat. As Zorba put it, Venice is beautiful but it is a shame it has become an overcrowded, expensive, and a sweat box this time of year.
We did a walking tour with a gondola ride for 39 euro each and that was pretty good. Our guide was great and gave us an insight into the history of Venice. It was good, but you guessed it, hot. It must have been 35 degrees in Venice with high humidity and no where for the heat to escape. It just radiates off the paved streets and buildings, making Venice feel like a furnace.
Our gondola ride was nice, but not private. We had to share the gondola with four other people, urgh old whingy Americans, and that spoilt the magic a little bit… particularly because the husband was so old he should have been in a wheelchair and complained about the heat, wishing he was in Mexico, complaining about cramps in his side, his knee locking up, all with a face like a cat’s bum. Zorba and I had the love seat and tried really hard to ignore him to take in the magic of the experience. I got proposed to again on the gondola and that was very sweet :).
Dinner was at another rip off restaurant that looked like it could have been a great cheap and cheerful studenty kind of place with great food. In fact the guest book they gave us to sign had comments in there from people from all over the world raving about how great the food was and what a wonderful dining experience they had had. Zorba refused to give anyone in Venice any more money than necessary so only ordered spaghetti Bolognese, no beer, no wine, niente. I ordered pasta e fagoli, or a bean and pasta soup, followed by bacala with polenta, dried cod cooked in sauce – a speciality of the region. My soup was fab, the bacala wasn’t exactly what I thought I’d ordered – it was bacala done 4 different ways on a little tasting tray. That was pretty good, but the soup was such a big serve I could hardly eat the fish and Zorba ate the bulk of it.
Poor Zorba. He had a pretty bad time in Venice and so did I. I felt like we didn’t get to see the beauty of Venice properly because of all the annoying factors that distracted us. I even dragged Zorba back to St Mark’s square after dinner at night time to see how beautiful it was without the tourists (day trippers) there, but it was still busy with people. We tried. But failed.
The best thing about the 4-star expensive hotel was breakfast the next morning. Proper bacon and eggs for the first time anywhere!! Proper bacon and eggs!!!! yay!! We ate too much and promised we wouldn’t have lunch. We failed on that account too when I was hungry at 2pm and caved in to buy a panini…
Next Adenture: Tuscany, in a car 🙂