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Report 2033: Alpine Journey 2012

By SL Jones from Illinois USA, Fall 2012

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Page 8 of 10: Venice

photo by L J

Heading for Venice, we decided to stay north of the city for one night, up near Conegliano and the foothills of the Dolomites. We'd stayed in this prosecco region before and found it lovely. I had reserved at B&B Alle Corti. It was about 40 minutes north of Venice and made for a quick trip the next morning. It was hard to find, and we used iPad GPS. The area is fairly new, residential, without the charm that people seek in Italy. Sadly, it was raining, drizzly and foggy (again). We couldn't really see the beautiful foothills that were right there outside of town. But the place itself was fabulous and very stylish. What a room! The owner is an interior designer and he has restored this old stone building with wonderful craftsmanship and panache. It was a decor I love - very contemporary plus lots of stone and beautifully finished wood. We had a huge area for lounging plus a bedroom, bathroom. There was a lovely garden area for nicer weather. (See my review)

We might have bypassed Venice when making plans, but we have family living there (my niece, her husband and four year old). And - what luck(!) - our friends Ann and Paul would be renting there. We thought it a great opportunity, and we had reserved a room in the San Polo district, Hotel Ca Arco Antica, for three nights. I was still hobbling around on my broken toe, but there are vaporetti, right?

Our entry to Venice was not a good one. In fact, it put us both in a really foul mood. Steve, being very careful about the car, had secured reserved parking in the Tronchetto municipal parking garage. We entered what we thought was the correct lane for reservations and tried to communicate. We were in the wrong lane. We backed out and tried to maneuver into the correct lane, scraping and denting the side of our new car. I hadn't been cautious enough in my guidance. Tragedy and gloom. After finally getting the car tucked away, we bought tickets for the "People Mover" - more unhappiness. I was humiliated by not moving fast enough through a gate and had to crawl under it. THEN the "People Mover" was packed with cruise ship people. We felt like cattle - a preview of a theme throughout our stay. Finally, limping along and mentally soured, we found our hotel room, which was blessedly satisfactory, if not delightful. The tiny and alleys of streets of San Polo were packed to the max. Our room was cave-like and we kind of wanted to just stay there.

Venice is a very beautiful city and certainly unique. It is real and exactly what it should be. But it should be better protected. I know that the locals resist the cruise ships, and they should. It's not for us. Possibly we would have happier further from the touristed area anywhere near the Rialto bridge. There were simply too many people. And we don't believe we had even one really good meal. In heavily touristed areas, this isn't surprising. Ann and Paul were staying in Dosorduro and that seemed better. Our family members live in remote San Elena, which has much appreciated green space, trees and fresh air. That was nice to see. We fault ourselves, as we didn't explore enough, didn't have the spirit to get out there and unearth the things we would have enjoyed. I partly blame my broken toe, but it was more than that.

So we enjoyed the people, the conversation, the opportunity to see Venice with people who knew it well. Ann and Paul were fun to chat with and they had rented a lovely apartment. We had missed talking with friends! And in San Elena we loved seeing a real home, this welcoming young family. They showed us some Castello neighborhoods that we certainly wouldn't have seen, where we loved seeing real Venetians going about their lives. This was interesting and it was wonderful to see this branch of my family in this unique place.

But ... we won't be back. You always have to look at the cost to pleasure ratio. Two places came out on the losing of that ratio on this trip - Venice, and our brief stays in London. Lots of cost in money and effort, and not that much pleasure. For lots of cost, it has to be exhilarating, awesome ... and fun. We asked ourselves, "What have we learned?"

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