You know how sometimes you’ve had something planned out for months and months and it still somehow manages to get messed up the day of?
Yeah. We get that, too.
After winning an award for the World’s Worst Night of Sleep Ever, I wiped the sleep from my eyes and helped lug luggage off the train before it decided to rumble off again. (I never did figure out how long the train stays at each stop.) The group made our way out of the train station, over a bridge which redefined the phrase “uphill both ways,” and to the bus station where we did a search for our bus that very much resembled Where’s Waldo. Finding it in the back corner of the lot where no bus should ever be, we made our way there and settled in (as best as we could have on a bus) for a thirty minute drive to the hotel.
The hotel was beautiful (though the surrounding area was not). The lobby was tiled in a black and white checkerboard pattern and a crystal chandelier hung above our heads. Our suitcases took up the majority of the lobby, but with the promise of our rooms awaiting us and breakfast following soon after, we sat and waited for our professor to check us in. It was around 9:30 am at this point which is normally an unusual hour to check into a hotel (this was technically an Airbnb, but it operated the same way a hotel would), but the Airbnb host we had been in contact with was very accommodating and assured us that checking in early would be no problem.
…It was a problem.
The concierge’s accent made him seem to me very frantic and very insistent that it was absolutely without a doubt “not possible” for us to check in at that time, even though the Airbnb host had said the contrary. He said that the host will say that from time to time but it simply was “not possible” because the rooms had yet to be cleaned. However, that left the sixteen of us tired, dirty, starving, and thirty minutes from Venice with a following of luggage that was not dissimilar to the amount of fans Justin Bieber has to fight through to get to his tour bus after a concert. (No exaggerations here, folks! It was really an impressive sight. Tourists took pictures of us instead of the Grand Canal.)
So as we waited for the situation to be resolved, we sat our dirty selves down on the limited amount of furniture in the lobby. The concierge then had the idea, sparked by our fabulous professor’s insistence that we needed to leave our luggage at the hotel (and thank goodness for that insistence because if we had struggled to get all of that to the hotel once, imagine us getting it all back to Venice and then back to the hotel! We’re not that strong.), to let us store our belongings in a room that had yet to be cleaned while our rooms were being sorted out. He even allowed us to use the shower in there, so one by one, like a little row of ducklings, the girls who absolutely could not wait to freshen up waited for a turn in the bathroom. I was one of those girls. (I pray to God that none of you ever experience what a train bathroom is like. If you ever do, you’ll understand why I decided not to wait for my own room before showering.)
As we waited for girls to freshen up, our professor continued speaking with the concierge to finalize details of the Italian cooking class we would be taking at 3:30. We quickly learned, however, that transportation to the cooking class was no longer included. It was around five or eight miles away from the hotel and there were no buses that would go where it would be held. To take a taxi or a van would be very expensive for sixteen people, and to walk was more than we cared to do at that point in time. (I still stand by that decision. Ten or sixteen miles roundtrip is rough, no matter how good the class would have been.) So, spoiler alert, we cancelled.
So at this point in the trip, it was coming up on 10:30 or 11:00 am. We hadn’t eaten since McDonald’s the night before, our cooking class was cancelled so that source of food was out the window, and the closest restaurant was a mile away. Oh, and it was Sunday so everything opened later than normal. After moving our luggage from the still-dirty room that belonged to a long-gone traveler who will never know just how many girls showered in their bathroom in such a quick procession to the newly-available room of our professor, we snacked on any European chocolate we could find stashed away in our purses, strapped on our sandals, and began the walk to the nearest restaurant. A little ways down the road, we stumbled across an authentic Italian restaurant that opened at 12:00. (It was 11:45-ish by then, so they let us in and told us we could order drinks first and then food at noon, which was very nice of them.) I ordered “Noodles with Wild Sauce” which turned out to be flat noodles with marinara sauce and ground duck. It was absolutely delicious!
We cleared our plates (and several bread baskets) and got the check. For the first time yet on the trip, they couldn’t split the bill into separate checks, so we pooled a over one hundred Euros together to foot the cost of our pasta and made our way back to the hotel to rest. (I think I can speak for the group when I say that we were all tired and cranky at this point.)
When we arrived at the hotel, our rooms were ready, so we were given key cards and we moved our luggage from our professor’s hotel room to our own respective rooms. Then came glorious nap time.
Our hotel room was so cute!
We had plans to reconvene at 4:00 to make our way into Venice and explore for the evening, but while Najeeah and I were asleep the plan was changed to 3:30, so we missed the group’s return to the city. However, by chance when we awoke our two professors were about to make their way back to Venice, so Najeeah and I tagged along, which turned out to be a very fortunate thing because we had a great time!
We bought bus tickets from the concierge, headed to the bus stop, and… missed our bus. (This is something we would grow accustomed to as our time in Italy progressed. Italian bus drivers are so punctual that they’re early. They’ll be earlier than you even if you’re early to the bus stop. I’m convinced that the only way to catch the bus you want is to aim for the bus before it.) Once in Venice, we did some souvenir shopping, walked around, took a water taxi, went on a gondola ride with a gondola driver/navigator/operator who knew more about Italian architecture than the architects who built the structures, ate the most incredible dinner, and went to the top of a beautiful tower in time to see the sun set over all of Venice.
I had spaghetti al pesto for dinner. Yum!
We watched the sun set from the top of this tower.
We then water taxied back to the bus station and made the thirty minute drive back to the hotel for the night. Najeeah and I were pretty tired from the day, so we immediately got ready for bed and went to sleep. It’s so cool to see a day where nothing seemed to go as planned turn into one of the most fun sight-seeing days yet! It’s yet again proof that going with the flow will take you to places you didn’t and couldn’t plan for.