We were supposed to fly home today, but instead, we got a surprise extra day in Venice! It’s a long story, so here is the condensed version.
When I booked the cruise in July, the online itinerary said the ship would dock at 6:00 am. Our travel agent booked our flight for 11:30, which would have worked out well.
When I checked online again a few days before we left home, the docking time had been changed to 10:00 am — nowhere near enough time to make it to the airport.
Frantically, I called our travel agent, and she was amazing. She worked all day to get us last minute flights and accommodations. She booked us a room Friday night in Mestre, which is an Italian city on the mainland across the lagoon from Venice. Saturday, flights to Philadelphia and Chicago, then a hotel in Chicago and home Sunday morning.
When I asked about the cost for all this, she told me that the company would cover it. They would try to get their money back from MSC cruises, but so far MSC was denying there had ever been a change in the schedule.
Two extra days till we get home, but for an extra day in Venice, who was I to complain?
The same thing happened to Helen and Maggie. Expecting a 6:00 am arrival, Helen had booked a 10:15 train to Rome. She didn’t find out about the change till during the cruise, though, so they tried hard to be first off the boat and hurried to the train station. Knowing Helen, I bet they made it. . . I hope so.
I won’t bore you with the details of our own trip to the hotel. We found a bus that took us there. Long story short, we got off too soon and had to walk a little less than a mile, pulling our luggage behind us. Sometimes there were sidewalks, and sometimes not. We did stop for lunch along the way at a charming sidewalk cafe called La Sosta, We were pretty tired when we finally found the hotel around 3:00 in he afternoon, thanks to Google maps.
Mestre seemed the most like home of anyplace we visited, with its streets, parks, and supermarkets. The weather was perfect. David wanted to sleep, but I decided that staying in the hotel watching TV for the rest of the day would be a total waste. I asked the desk clerk if he thought I would be okay heading into Venice alone, and he said “no problem.” He sold me an ACTV 12-hour transport pass for 18€, and told me exactly what to do.
I took the bus back to Piazzale Roma, the bus and train station on the island, then took a waterbus back to Piazza San Marco. All I really did was walk back to the Rialto area to pick up a few more gifts, pasta and spices, had a last gelato (chocolate mint this time), and then it was time to retrace my steps back to the hotel. The desk clerk was right, it was easy, and though I didn’t get back till after dark, I felt very safe with people all around me the whole time.
It was a wonderful trip, definitely once in a lifetime. Sometimes I had occasion to use what little bit of Italian I had learned, but most of the time people spoke enough English that I didn’t have to try. They did seem to appreciate my effort, though. The most common phrase I used, besides “buongiorno” and “grazie mille” was “Posso pagare il conto?” It means, “Can I pay the bill?” Usually we would sit in a restaurant for quite a while waiting for the check. I guess that’s just another thing that is different from home, a kind of “whenever” Italian attitude that also apparently applies to the scheduling of any kind of public transportation.
Would I want to go back to Venice? No, not really. I didn’t see it all, but I saw canals, bridges, and buildings rising out of the water, and it was enough.
I do think David has decided he likes cruising, though, so maybe we’ll save our money and go again someday. I can’t think about that right now, though, because all I want to do is go home.
Thank you for reading my ramblings! I will put more photos up at Photobucket when I get my computer back and post the link here, if anyone is interested. I also want to go back and visit your blogs, and catch up with all the posts I have missed. Ciao!