Monday, June 9, 2008

A Special Anniversary Trip

I was on a project in London and I brought my wife along. She wanted to visit Venice, Italy and as it was close to our 25th anniversary, I organized a weekend trip to Venice. Here's how it went.

Friday started off good. Our driver was early and he was correct in his 90 minute estimate to get to Stansted Airport. We arrived in plenty of time and went to check in. First surprise. EasyJet only allow 5 kilos of carryon baggage. My wife's bag was 8. So off we go to another line for checked baggage. The line moved quickly and we checked our bags. We found a restaurant and had dinner while we waited for our 5:55 PM flight. EasyJet is the Southwest Airlines of the UK only they don't have the organization. Boarding was a free for all but we got two seats together and refused to give up the aisle seat. One hour and 40 minutes later (9:05 PM local) we land at Marco Polo Airport after flying over the Italian Alps. Nobody told us that we should now start thinking in terms of Mexico time as it takes 30 minutes for our bags to hit the belt. So now it's off to get some Euros and find a way to the hotel. We find that the dock for water taxis is about a mile from the airport. The water taxi is 80 euros and takes 20 minutes. The vaporetti is much cheaper but takes an hour. No decision there for us. Off we go to a $100 boat ride! Things are a little hectic so they ask us if we would mind sharing the boat. No problem because we are nice people and the other people looked nice to. Now you would think that they cut the fare in half. No way! We got a 20 euro discount for the privilege. (These guys have a monopoly!)

We arrive at our hotel after a scenic night time trip through the canals and into the Grand Canal. Check in was smooth. The lobby is stunning. All is good. We drop the bags in the room and head to the bar to relax. We sit outside with a view of the Church of the Salute and a glass of wine. An Italian gigolo tries to get my wife to join him in singing. About 11:30 it's time to back to the room. We were hungry. The restaurant wasn't serving but there's always room service. I call 'em up only to find that most of the room service menu is not available (although the menu clearly states it should be!) We settle for two ham and cheese sandwiches and two diet cokes. They promised it would be there in 10 minutes. It was. It was also 44 euros! OK, they got me. Won't happen again!

We get up the next morning. The sun is out. The view of the roof of the building next door is just wonderful. I go to the bar to try to get a cup of coffee to bring some back to the room. (four star hotel but no in room coffee pot) "I'm sorry sir, you will need to call room service." Oh no! I've been to that rodeo and I ain't paying $20 for coffee. I try to venture outside the hotel. All I see is an empty square and the alleys leading out of look like a good way to get lost and I don't have any breadcrumbs. I return empty handed and we go down to breakfast.

We have a wonderful view of the Grand Canal and the gondolas. Very nice buffet breakfast but nothing spectacular. They don't even have a guy making omelets. But we enjoy the view and drink coffee and try to protect our plates from the marauding flocks of sparrows. My wife goes back to the room and I call for the check. 100 euros for 2 people. That's $60 for a mediocre fritatta and some bacon!

They did it to me again! And they didn't even use Vaseline!

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