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Ah, the joys of travel planning

I've hit a snag already in my trip planning -- and the next big trip is more than seven months away! Time for many more snags, and these aren't that serious. Dealing with snags is half the fun!.

My earlier plan, forged just a few days ago, was to fly into Venice in mid-September for perhaps five nights, spend a few days in Padua with a day trip to Verona; then train down to Bologna for a week and fly home from there. Just a very rough draft 1 of the trip, open to ample revision.

And revisions began immediately. First, I began to rethink Padua. I definitely want a day there, but after I did some searches of discussions on the Slow Travel about the best base for the Veneto, it sounded as if Padua might not have as many charms as Verona. Indeed, the more I read about Verona, the more interesting it sounded. I'm not a big day tripper; I like to pick a spot and spend some time in it. And I had read some great reviews about a very inexpensive small hotel there, Hotel Torcolo.

So, a few days ago I emailed three hotels that I was interested in, including Hotel Porta San Mamolo in Bologna (which has had good reviews); the Torcolo in Verona; and finally, I emailed my favourite hotel in Venice -- La Calcina, which is extremely popular, small, and tough to get into.

Torcolo got back to me very quickly, saying they were fully booked for the three mid-week nights that I wanted. At the same time, La Calcina also emailed me to say they were fully booked for the dates I had in mind, five nights from Sunday through Friday. However, La Calcina could give me five nights, beginning the Wednesday of that week. They didn't have the room I wanted, a single with a canal view for just 110 euros, but for 100 euros they could give me a single, no view.

I decided that wouldn't be a hardship. I love La Calcina because they have a wonderful floating restaurant out front on the Guidecca Canal, where they serve breakfast and offer dinner. It's also a great spot for a coffee or a glass of wine there in the afternoon; and they also have a rooftop terrace with canal views. The place is always spotless, the air-conditioning works, the bathrooms are all upgraded. It's just wonderful value for the money.

So, I decided to quickly change my plan and see if I could fly into Milan, train to Verona for three nights, then on to Venice to take advantage of the dates I could book La Calcina. I quickly emailed La Calcina back, saying I wanted the new rooms and how best could I send them my deposit -- did they still want a personal cheque in the amount of the first night's fee. This has long been their quirky policy.

I then emailed Hotel Torcolo in Verona, suggesting the new dates at the beginning of my trip, Sunday through Tuesday. Promptly, Torcolo said yes, and at a pretty good rate (I thought) of 70 euros per night. Perfect -- this seemed to be a clear sign that this trip was meant to be! (I'm always looking for signs; the trouble is, they usually point me in the wrong direction.)

And no reply yet from Bologna. So I sent another request to the Mamolo and for the second time, got an immediate automated reply promising to get back to me right away about my query. Hmmmmmmm. Strange.

Then, things took a bad turn. A sudden email from La Calcina -- in the time it took me to get their last email, someone else booked MY room. Agggggh! I was out. No hope of La Calcina. And still nothing from Bologna.

I shifted to Plan B, the Pensione Accademia, which is also in Venice's Dorsoduro area and has also gotten v. good reviews. However, it is pricier and although it apparently has lovely gardens, there is no canal side bar or restaurant. They wanted 140 euros for a single. Yikes! But already, I was finding all the highest rated hotels in the low- to mid-price range places were booking up fast. Venice is notoriously expensive, and popular so the competition is stiff for the small, reasonably priced places of which there aren't enough. And apartments are mostly oriented to larger groups and families, which prices to match.

So, this morning I emailed the Accademia back, saying I wanted to take the 140-euro room. A bit expensive for me, but at least I'd have a good place to stay (which matters a lot of me. I can't help it; I'm influenced by my surroundings!) I immediately faxed my credit card information to them as well, followed by another email asking them to acknowledge receipt.

That was 12 hours ago. Now, radio silence from the Accademia. This is annoying. I guess I'll nag them tomorrow. Maybe the person that handles reservations was off work today.....

And still nothing from Bologna.

Comments (3)

Jill:

I found Verona to be quite beautiful, but after a day and half, I was over it. But, keep in mind it was the end of my 4 week trip and I was ready to go home. I loved Padua, but we only day tripped there. From outward appearances, it wasn't as charming as Verona, but I really enjoyed the tour we took of the university and the Scrovegni Chapel (book ahead for the chapel!).
Hotel Torcolo is pretty basic, but the owner (I'm blanking on her name) was very helpful. And it's in a great location.
Anyways...just my 2 cents.

That is strange that you are not hearing from Bologna. I made my reservation last year on Feb. 19th and the replied right away. Maybe they are on vacation in early February? Did you use this email address: info AT hotel-portasanmamolo DOT it
(typed out the @ and . to prevent spam...not sure if this is one of those urban legends about spam but just in case)

Sandra:

Thanks, Jill, I appreciate the advice. I had read your trip report and it helped to tilt me towards using Verona as a base, with a day trip to Padua, rather than vice-versa. And your photos were great!

I'll definitely book ahead to see the Scrovegni chapel; I might even try to book two reservations, as someone suggested on Slow Travel, since the 15 minute limit sounds quite short!

And thanks, Girasoli -- today I emailed the hotel in Bologna directly and they answered promptly. I guess the automated reservation system isn't working.

Is it very far from Bologna's centre? Looking at the map and traveler's reviews, I gather it's not too far out, just enough to be away from the university crowd!

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