Monday, April 15, 2013

Irregular activities in Venice

Well we're only a few weeks away now and I've booked our toilet pass in Venice, yup we're all set if nature calls in the island city of canals and water and buses that are boats. The older you get, it seems the more conscious you are of the possible need to visit "the water closet" at any time of the day or night.

So we're all set, just don't tell Rose (my wife) that we're sharing our 7 day, 10 visit, public toilet pass for Venice. I'm not sure what that will look like just yet, maybe they're like those stainless steel capsule biffies that we experienced in Paris many years ago. Those were pretty weird, like a shower stall, all modular and ultra modern and after you leave them they close themselves up and shake and shimmy and moan as they go through their self clean routine, then it's green light and ready for the next needy customer with a couple of euro (or something else) to deposit.

Ah, that brings back many fond memories, Paris September 1988, Rose and I on our grand European holiday, what a wonderful time. It was September and we were pre-kids but trying to get pregnant, that'll put a spring in a young man's step, let me tell you! Jumping over picket fences, that's for old guys. Tall buildings in a single bound, that's how I remember it anyway.

That was a great holiday, how we managed before the Internet though is a bit of a mystery. I remember booking a hotel room in Paris at Hotel St. Merry on the Left Bank. We saw a picture of a particular room in a food and travel magazine and just fell in love with it. There was a phone number so we called them up and booked "chamber #4" for 2 nights, we were in Paris for 4 but couldn't afford to spend all 4 days there.

What a beautiful room, it was housed in the former presbytery of the St. Merry church and had the most amazing flying buttresses right over the bed, just beautiful.

Hotel St. Merry, Paris.

This is the room we stayed in, so gorgeous!

It was in Paris that I met the most charming lady bathroom attendant in the public washrooms under the plaza in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Nice lady, I still remember what she said to me, "pissiere Monsieur", "huh?" was my clever response. I suppose she had met more than her share of naive tourists, unused to this unusual situation.

She quickly made herself clear with some further questions, "for the toilet, Monsieur, you stanna hup, or you seet doon?" "Oh!" You could almost hear the gears clicking into place in my far from home, Canadian brain. "I stanna hup....I mean, yes I stand up."

"Okay, 10 franks" Business gratefully concluded!

Fun times, but whatever the case may be with these public bathrooms in Venice, when you need one, you need one!

We got a few other things figured out also. I am now a registered user of the Trenitalia website that allows travelers to purchase and reserve seats on most of the intercity and high speed trains within Italy. We've already booked our seats from Venice to Verona, from Verona to Milan and then from Milan to Cinque Terra and after a week there, on to Naples and the south.

I was surprised at how easy it was to book on-line, actually. The only problem I experienced was that one of the tickets didn't come through to my email so I'll have to find a way to chase that down and re-print it.

I even booked the exact seats on the trains and got  an amazing deal on some of the fares. It seems that there is a spring sale on in Italy and pre-booked seats for Saturday travel are 2 for 1, wahoo! It ended up saving us something like $200 Euro, excellent because we're going to need to save as much as we can if we have to pay for toilet time wherever we go.

We looked into train passes and with this sale going on, it is way cheaper to book seats individually, and it's pretty easy, so if you happen to be going any time soon, do some research first, you might be surprised.

It's interesting to read about all of the scams that enterprising local scoundrels come up with to rip off unsuspecting tourists. Rick Steves is a guide book writer who specializes in Italy and he warns people to clip their belongings to the overhead racks on trains because when trains go through tunnels as they often do, pffftt, like magic, your bag is gone!

It might be fun to bring a flashlight also and if we hear rustling around when the train goes dark, click, turn it on, flash it around and see what mischief is going on. I can see it now, some perp frozen in place, like a hapless "plucky comic relief" in a Jurassic park movie who heard somewhere that, "they can't see you if you don't move." Priceless!

There are lots of warnings about pick pockets of course and scooter riding villains who try to grab purses and other bags, and creeps who snatch the change or tickets from the dispensers in train stations and any number of other scams to victimize tourists, oh well, we'll sleep when we get home.

I also booked our transit passes for Venice and it is so important to check that out also because from what I understand the vaporetto (water bus) tickets are $7 each and a week long pass with unlimited transport including a special tourist boat that stops at special art and culture locations is only $60, so that gives a lot of freedom from counting pennies if you plan to really explore the city as we do.

I also bucked out for the wi-fi pass for $15 because I have become totally dependent on this tablet and I think it will be incredibly useful if the coverage is good. The one thing that I can't decide yet is the Venice card but I will probably end up picking them up when we arrive. So many amazing churches and buildings bursting with incredible art!

Of course since it's our 30th anniversary we'll most likely spring for a gondola ride and something makes me think Rose won't settle for the $2, stand up, 5 minute ride across the canal. I imagine she has in mind the $60, side by side, cuddling up, sunset version complete with serenade. Come to think of it, that's what she deserves for putting up with me for 30 years!

All Contents Copyrighted by the author, Doug Petry

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, Rose I think you won! Gondola ride with a sun set version. I second the motion.......
    " They can't see if you don't move" reminds me of Ostrich!
    Yes, please watch out for those free loaders. We will have to have a movie night when you come back.