Tuesday, August 9, 2005

mardi, le 26 juillet 2005


In Venice now. Stayed in Rome's Ciampino airport last night, as we had a very early flight. After the short flight and an hourlong bus ride from Treviso airport into Venice, we took a vaporetto (public-transportation boat) to the Ponte Rialto. We headed off in search of our chosen hostel, which is run by the largest Protestant church in Venice. Had trouble finding the place through the winding streets and alleys, and Monaca's back was hurting her, so it wasn't the most enjoyable walk.

When we finally got there, the guy at reception informed us that they only had one bed left. We were so tired and desperate. We looked at each other and nodded. "Can we share the bed?" we asked. He told us we couldn't. Downtrodden, we sat on a bridge outside their courtyard and stared into space for a while. Our second-choice hostel was literally across the city (and across the Grand Canal). So we looked at our trusty Let's Go guide again. (Side note: I HIGHLY recommend Let's Go guides to anyone wanting to travel anywhere.) We found a hotel that was slightly closer than our second-choice place, so we set off again; again, we got lost.

When we finally got there, we were sweaty, tired, in pain, and almost out of hope. I think we were both picturing us huddled in a doorway that night. The receptionist told us they didn't have room, but he got on the phone and spoke in rapid Italian for a few seconds.

Here's a probable transcript of the conversation:
Receptionist: "Hey, Giuseppe."
Giuseppe: "What's going on, Paolo?"
R: "I've got two crazy American girls here who look like they've just been regurgitated by an angry whale. I don't want them staying in my hotel, but I know you're a pretty nice guy. Would you be willing to take them off my hands?"
G: "You say they're American?"
R: "Yes, and they look horrible."
G: (sigh) "Well, I'd rather not; it's not great for business. But I don't want their blood on my hands. Send them over."
R: "Thanks, man. You're a peach."

The receptionist told us he had found us a room. We were so grateful, even though we assumed the other hotel would be in Bhufu and would cost us several hundred euros. Must to our surprise, the receptionist told us to walk to the end of the street, turn left, and we'd see the sign for Hotel Mignon. We couldn't thank him enough. And I'm sure he couldn't thank God enough that we were out of his hotel.

"Giuseppe" at Hotel Mignon responded to my feeble "Parla inglese?" with a smile and asked us if we were the two people sent over from the other hotel. When I nodded, he said, "Well, the best I can do is 60 euros total." That was WAY cheaper than we were expecting. We heartily agreed, and he showed us to our room.

Unless you've traveled the way we have, I don't know if you can understand the depth of gratitude you feel for human kindness or the appreciation you have for the most commonplace amenities. Our room had two twin beds, bedside lamps, a mirror, a FULL BATHROOM all to ourselves, and AIR CONDITIONING. We practically wept with thanks.

I did laundry (Hallelujah!) in the sink while Monaca took a shower and a BATH (!), and then we switched. After a few minutes spent staring at our blessed air-conditioning unit (which we could control!), a nap, and a snack, we were quite refreshed.

Venice is amazing as usual. Impossible not to get lost, but it's Venice--that's part of the experience.

Monaca and I have decided that we should have had someone shoot a reality TV show about our trip. It would have been absolutely hilarious--definitely entertaining. We didn't know how funny and weird we were going to end up being on this trip. Our show would have been the most popular one on Thursday-night television. :)

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