A page from my personal journal dated June 15, 2010 Tuesday noon..
As I write this I am sitting on the train from Roma to Venezia, Santa Lucia, which is a three and one half hour trip. I am happy to return to Venice as it was my favorite city when Tom and I brought Lindsay and Louis in April 2004. It will be interesting to see if my week in Toscana has changed my view.
There was a slight problem with my Iphone that I was able to resolve while in the train station. But, I really must admit I felt a bit cut off when I was without means of communication in my familiar ways for several hours this morning. When I awoke this morning, there was a a message from ATT that my international plan had exceeded it’s data usage and to avoid interruption of service I must call them right away. By the time I was in an area with service, I had been locked out. Alone in busy Rome train station, I purchased my first class reservation to Venice and searched for a public telephone. The banks of phones were few and always seemed to be located right beneath the speakers announcing the arriving and departing trains. After searching for a phone in the quietest spot, I attempted to read the instructions. It seems you must have a credit card to make a phone call these days. ( I later was told by a nice Venetian I met on the flight home, you must purchase a specific phone card for the orange phones AND you must pull one corner back before it will allow you to insert it….good tip) Ok, pull out the visa and insert. No matter how I tried, it told me in Italian, error of insertion, remove card. After around four attempts, I finally got it to make a dial tone and dialed the number for international assistance listed in my iPhone message. Well, the call was in Italian…..and very fast….That would not work, so I pulled out the card and attempted to dial it again from a different type of phone one with clear directions in English. When I inserted my visa, it told me my card was frozen. I assume the fraud department of the bank had frozen it. Problem is, I only have two credit cards, Visa and American Express. I found out early on my trip American Express charges a higher fee therefore it is not readily accepted in Italy. Now I am in a pickle. I do have some cash but will need to pay for a hotel for two nights, so I am hoping to be able to use my Amex. Back to my original problem, my phone. I finally got thru to the ATT international assist and after a twenty minute call, and an increase in my international plan from 20 mb to 100 mb, I was up and running again. Whewwww!
It seems this trip I have learned more about megabytes, meters, and conversion rates than I really care to know. I have probably gained a few kilos with the wonderful food, and walked many kilometers. My megabytes had to be increased on my phone. But, it is really very useful information.
This afternoon I am hoping to be able to fix my iPad problem. I have not been able to send mail for three days, getting no service. I am sure I have gone over my data usage, and I am locked out of that as well. So, if you are reading this email I have figured it all out.
Also, I have no reservation in Venice, so I will hope to be able to find a place to stay for the night. For now, I am going to relax on the smooth train ride that should last for two more hours.
There was another interesting travel tip we learned from Paolo while on our walking tour. Scattered around the city you will find water fountains. They look like just another beautiful marble fountain but, there is a pipe with a stream of water running out. At the top of the pipe is a small hole. If you place your finger over the water coming out of the pipe, the water will stream out of the smaller hole on top like a drinking fountain. The water is cold and delicious. It has no chemical taste and is very refreshing. If you had purchased a water in a plastic bottle and you finish it, keep it to refill at the next fountain. You are good for the day with fresh icy cold water.
Well, with all of the stops, we arrived at the Venice train station at around 3:30 and I managed to lug my huge suitcase ( I will NEVER pack like this again) onto the vaporetta (water bus). The train ride was very relaxing for me and I was able to look at some hotels online and decided I wanted something on the Grand Canal with airport shuttle service. I bought a ticket to San Marco and off I walked in the sprinkling rain. We passed the Gritti Palace both old and new, where we stayed our last trip.
Honestly, even in the rain, I love this place. I believe I am drawn to the water. Every place I have ever lived was on the water. Much different from my sister who lives in the desert.
As we passed the beautiful palaces along the Grand Canal I was happy to be back. When
I stepped off the vaporetta and walked just a few steps I happened upon the
Hotel Monaco. I had no reservation and the hotel looked pricey. As I approached the reservation desk in the gorgeous lobby of the hotel the lady clerk greeted me. She found a single room for me at 323 euro for the first night and 124 euro for the second night. Private water taxi was available for 100 euro. Oh, and they took American Express. I happily turned over my passport and checked in. My room has a
marble tub, bidet, mini bar and TV. They offer breakfast room service and have an amazing dining room right downstairs. It is quite modern by Venetian standard yet the building is over 500 years old. Oh, and the cushy terrycloth robe looked inviting. I was in heaven. I unpacked and decided to rest before I freshened up for dinner somewhere on San Marco (St. Marks Square) then off to bed for a day in the labyrinth of streets that are Venice.
There are no cars in Venice only gondolas for transportation. They measure about 36 feet long and 4 feet wide and are all remarkably uniform. According to 16th century law, all are painted with seven layers of black lacquer and made of specific woods. Propelled by a single oarsman standing at the back of the boat, the shallow-draft vessels are the perfect shape and depth to penetrate even the narrowest and shallowest canals. Maybe I will take a ride tomorrow if the sun is shining when I awake. Buene notte.