We scored an excellent package deal to Italy that included flight, hotels, train, breakfast, round trip from London. The trade off for a good deal is traveling to airports and hotels that are sometimes off the beaten path, but it’s getting there that counts, right?
When I called the travel company to book the trip, the woman rattled off all the details, including our flight times, train schedule, and the names of our hotels in both Rome and Venice. I did quick Google searches and starred each one on my map. Getting to the Hotel La Meridiana in Venice from the train station was a two hour plus trip by foot, bus, and a boat ride through the Grand Canal, but it looked so charming online that I wasn’t even worried about it.
I’ve never seen a place as beautiful as Venice. I actually started to tear up when we entered the Grand Canal. Our hotel was located on the secondary island of Lido, and as soon as we got off the boat we decided we were going to retire there. During the half mile hike to our hotel, we passed an elementary school, and the sidewalk was covered in bits of colored paper, cut into little squares and heart shapes. Even the litter is beautiful in Venice!
When we finally rolled up to the hotel, it was so lovely in person that we forgot the long walk with all of our luggage. We grasped hands and gazed lovingly at each other as we remarked on how lucky we were to be there. We only let go so I could hand my booking document to the hotel clerk, who, in the most charming Italian accent, informed us that there were two Hotel Meridianas in Venice, and that we were at the wrong one.
Turns out we had traveled two and a half hours in the completely opposite direction of our actual hotel, which happened to be a 10 minute train ride from station that we arrived at from Rome. The return trip was a lot more subdued and featured less hand-holding.
We got to our hotel so late that we had dinner at the closest pizzeria and trudged back to our actual, much less charming, hotel. On the way back, we passed a row of very attractive, scantily clad young women hanging about on the side of the road and realized we were in some sort of prostitute hotspot. R and I agreed then that perhaps it's time for him to plan a vacation.
On the bright side, we quickly discovered the local favorite cocktail. If you walk around Venice before dinnertime, you'll notice nearly everyone sipping a bright orange aperitif called an Aperol spritz. Aperol is very similar to Campari, but has a much less bitter taste to it. Basically it's like a tart orange soda for adults.