Saturday, August 17, 2013

Leaving Venice: How a little incompetence cost a lot of moolah

Our last morning in Venice we woke up to no power and no hot water. When we told the hotel manager he tried to blame us for running the hair dryer (which we hadn't) and something else at the same time. (Sturdy electrical system, eh?)
We went to check out and pay for our three night stay and he said something about paying for eight nights.
I thought maybe he was referring to the nightly Venice city tax-- two nights x 3 people plus 1 night with two people. Nope. He thought we had stayed eight nights. It took him about 15-20 minutes to ascertain, slowly and painstakingly, by hand, that we indeed stayed for 3 nights and not 8. What should have been a 5 minute formality turned into a 30 minute exercise in frustration.  
We left the hotel and hustled with our bags to the vaporetto stop. We arrived just in time to see the last water bus we needed to catch yo make our train floating away from the dock. 

We needed to make the 9:38 train to Florence-- our tickets were already bought and non-transferable or refundable -- but the next water bus would get us to the station at 9:35. Technically there was a chance we could make the train but even Dave with his high tolerance for tight connections didn't think we had a chance. 
There were no water taxis in sight. Our options were few and prospects were bleak. I chose to have faith and hope. Dave chose to wildly try to flag down any passing water taxi. After trying unsuccessfully for almost 10 minutes, he finally got one. We threw our bags in the boat and €60 later we were at the train station with a whole 11 minutes to spare.
We gratefully slid into our seats and grumbled quite a bit about the inept hotel clerk who cost us €60, but we were mostly thankful we didn't have to buy new train tickets. (The voice of my mother is inserting itself in my head now saying, "Always allow lots of buffer!" But why spoil a good story with mere practical details?)

Looking on the bright side, we had one last expensive, albeit efficient, personal tour of the back canals of Venice-- and we were able to carry on family tradition. 
My mom visited Venice for a day on study abroad as a college student. She was having a lovely time until there was a vaporetto (water bus) strike just as they needed to get back to their tour bus. They realized it would take them way too long to walk back and they would miss the bus unless they hefted out a large sum of money for the water taxi. So, student budget and all, they forked over the cash and made it back to the bus in time-- only to find that others in their group decided it wasn't worth the money for the taxi, so they sat and waited for the others for hours and were out a bunch of money. She has always disliked Venice as a result. 
Close call, expensive taxi ride, and all-- I can't bring myself to dislike Venice (even with overpowering heat and humidity). I'll just settle for grumbling about our less-than-competent hotel clerk and getting a good story out of it.

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