The bed and breakfast was just what I needed to get my head on straight again. I woke up in my nice room, in a very nice bed, and had a nice breakfast. Today was off to a good start. The night before, I stayed awake looking for a ride to Venice and room when I got there so my plan for today was all mapped out.
I had an hour and a half walk ahead of me that morning in order to arrive at the pick up location. It was a pleasant stroll taking me past city parks, shopping centers, the highway, and finally out towards the country on the outskirts of Verona. Once again, I would occasionally find a smile on my face as I walked along.
The BlaBlaCar driver was very friendly. Him and his wife were traveling along with another BlaBlaCar rider from France. It was short ride, just over an hour, and we talked about our trips across Europe. The driver was kind enough to drop me off on the street where I would be staying. I thanked them and they left. As I walked down the street, I asked an older man if I was on the right track. He spoke no English but after seeing the address I had written down, he pointed to a tree next to us. “Tree?” I asked. “Si” he replied, as the the pointed down the street at the largest tree in the neighborhood, then gestured that the house was right on the other side. I thanked him and kept walking.
The room I booked in Venice was found using AirBnB; it would be the first time I’d ever used the service but I had heard nothing but good things about it. The room I found was in the home of a family of five and they had amazing reviews so I figured I’d give it a shot.
I arrived at the home and rang the buzzer; every home and business in Italy seems to have a fence around it. Everywhere. I was buzzed in by the father who I knew from the AirBnB listing spoke very little English. I introduced myself and he called for the mother to come downstairs to help me get acquainted with the place. Again, I introduced myself and she said “Russell?” as if she were asking if I was sure. “Yes, Russell” I told her. Suddenly, the look on her face changed from happy to a very stern, almost upset look. She immediately walked into the next room, pulling her husband behind her. Of course I had no idea what they were saying, but by the time they got back, I knew something was wrong.
She was a little more calm at this point than when she left the room and very politely explained to me that they weren’t expecting me until May. Apparently I had chosen the wrong month. I checked my email and sure enough, it was for May. After looking back at the iPhone app, I realized just how easy it is accidentally change the month while scrolling through the days of the month. I will not be making this mistake again.
Luckily I had booked this room with the nicest family in Italy. She told me she had an idea and disappeared into the next room again. I could tell she was on the phone this time, and when she got back, she said I could sleep in her son’s room. I told her this wasn’t necessary and that I could just as easily find another place to stay that nice but she insisted. She told me to go out and enjoy Venice. By the time I got back, she said, everything would be in order.
There’s more to this story involving an hour an a half conversation about how AirBnB makes changes to reservations. It’s not worth going in to great detail but the misunderstanding boiled down to a simple miscommunication. While she was trying to explain everything to me, she kept using past tense while she was actually referring to something that was going to happen after I left. Too bad I don’t speak Italian.
It was late afternoon by this point, and I had actually booked two nights in Venice to give myself all day tomorrow to explore. After the incident back at the house though, I decided it would be nice to head to Venice that night just to take my mind off the problems I caused and to familiarize myself with the 40 minute bus ride to Venice.
I arrived at the main bus depot and walked around Venice for a couple of hours just to get a sense of the city. I could immediately tell that exploring this city tomorrow was going to be so much fun. Before it got too late, I hopped back on the bus to head back. Just a block down the street from the bus stop where I got off was an Italian restaurant so I stopped in for a bite to eat. The food was fantastic!
A short 20 minute walk after dinner got me back to the home I was staying at. I figured I would write a few blog posts and call it a night. That’s when I heard a knock on my door. It was the younger of the two sons asking if everything was ok. I told him everything was great and thanked him and his family for bending over backwards to help me out like they did. He also explained the reason he came up was to invite me out with him and some of his buddies to the local pub. Definitely.
We got to the pub and met his friends in the side room. They were immediately very friendly and welcoming and were happy to explain most everything in English to me. Hanging out with these guys reminded me of all my friends from home and was definitely the best night I’ve had in Italy so far. One guy even reminded me of my brother. He didn’t speak any English but just by the way he talked and joked around, I could see my brother in him. At the end of the night, as we were driving home, they all made plans to eat sushi and invited me along. Definitely.
While I may have screwed up the reservation, I definitely picked the right place to stay. The family was nothing but nice throughout the whole experience and made me feel right at home.
I woke up and walked down the stairs to find a breakfast waiting for all the guests. The mother welcomed me to the table with a huge smile and I took a seat along with three others who had stayed at the home last night. Breakfast consisted of fresh muffins, fruit sauce (which is the only way I can describe it; think apple sauce made with several types of fruit), and toast. The other three at the table were all from San Francisco and even after I finished eating, I sat at the table for at least another hour just chatting away with them.
That morning I wrote a couple of blog posts and took a shower. I hopped on the bus and knew exactly how to get to Venice.
I spent most of the day walking about Venice but I’m not quite sure how to describe the place without showing tons of pictures. The entire town is a huge, HUGE maze. I have no idea how any one there gets around. While it’s true many of the “streets” are actually canals designed for boats, you can just as easily get around on the pathways that run along and between the canals. It was obvious well before I arrived in Venice that cities in Italy were not designed with a grid system in mind, but Venice took the cake for craziest streets and pathways.
It literally felt like being inside a huge maze and it was awesome. I loved just wandering around aimlessly trying to get from one site to another. Looking on a map would show streets that looked more like a back alley when you actually looked at them. Many times I found myself just following someone who looked like they knew where they were going. Overall, Venice was just a ton of fun to explore.
That evening I hopped back on the bus towards the house. When I arrived, the son I hung out with last night met me at the door and explained that he and his friends would not be meeting up tonight; at the last minute his work had called and he had to go in. No problem at all. This just gave me more time to plan tomorrow’s trip. I messaged several people on BlaBlaCar but as it grew later and later, I didn’t expect to hear back from anyone until the next morning. I was quite hungry that night but also too lazy to do anything about it. I went to bed hungry without a solid plan the next day, but I wasn’t too worried about it.