My first night in Venice

My recent trip to Venice and Paris was an amazing experience (thank you Bev and Jerry) and for the most part very successful, no bad food (except for one error in judgement ordering a hamburger in Italy…) or accommodations and friendly folks and dogs everywhere I went, but there was one little episode that is worth sharing that happened on my first night in Venice.
The older I get the more anxious air travel makes me. I have traveled my entire life and love to fly but now I get extremely anxious getting on airplanes. Completely irrational, I know, but never the less something I now have to deal with but luckily we have drugs available to take an hour before your flight and suddenly the seats are roomier and the flight attendants nicer. My flight from SFO left at noon and headed to Paris and then an arduous transfer to a quick flight to Venice to meet up with Bev and Jerry to start my adventure. So after an 11 hour flight that included my assisting a flight attendant with an inflight medical emergency (another story) and a surreal transfer to my Venice flight I was almost there. My brother Jerry had spent countless hours prepping me for the idiosyncrasies of these maneuvers but they were still challenging. I was so proud once I made it to the Venice that it only took my asking nineteen people where to catch the water taxi to my intended stop. But I bought my fare and was on my way. What an exhale. Sitting on this water taxi on my way and knowing I would soon see two familiar faces to escort me on this glorious adventure. Once again, all expectations are always subject to interpretations, so Jerry’s stated one hour boat road was closer to two hours but at this point I was so relieved knowing I would soon be rescued by them when I ended this ride I had nothing but the scenery in my head. Everything glowed. At this point I had no idea what day or time it was but I was skiffing across the water on my way to the wonders of Venice.
And dang if I couldn’t see them as my vaporetto pulled into my stop, leisurely sitting at a sidewalk table enjoying an afternoon aperitif. And of course my accommodations were a stones throw away.  So after strolling along a quintessential cute Venice canal I checked into the Casa Academia hotel and met up with Bev and Jerry at the restaurant next door for my first meal of my trip. I was immediately in awe of the charm and light of Venice, sitting outdoors sipping my new found favorite drink, Aperol spritz and inhaling all the sights and sounds. After our leisurely meal, (my pesto gnocchi was quite good) I decided that after not sleeping since early Tuesday I should get to bed early on Wednesday….O.k., this is where the real story starts and I should back up just a bit to explain something. When I checked in to the hotel the lovely young women who checked me in explained that they did not have 24 hour attendee’s  available, only between 8 in the morning until 9 at night but there was an emergency number available if needed. No worries thought I. So I bid Bev and Jerry goodnight and went up to my sparse little room for a good nights sleep. I was obviously exhausted and fell asleep immediately. As I slumbered away I thought I was having one of my odd dreams I experience nightly but suddenly woke to find myself standing in the hallway outside my room. It took me a few moments for this all to register but it was soon apparent I had slept walked out of my room and was now locked out and standing in the hallway in just my pajama bottoms. Now as you can imagine, this is quite unsettling. I heading downstairs in hopes someone was still staffing the front desk but all was dark and quiet. It was midnight in Venice and I was wondering around disoriented in pj pants without a clue what to do. There was a phone at the check in desk and I tried to call the emergency number listed but failed at calling an international number. I looked for a spot that perhaps I could just spend the night but this frugal hotel didn’t offer comfy couches as they didn’t really have a lobby to speak of. As I stumbled about a young couple came in the front door. I quickly greeted them with reassurances not to be alarmed by finding a half naked man in the lobby and explained how I had locked myself out of my room. This sweet couple from Germany offered to try and assist and Alex (the young man) and I go up to my room and try to jimmy the door open. We try all the tricks we have seen on t.v., a credit card, a spoon…no such luck. So I thank them for the effort and ask one last favor, could I perhaps borrow a t-shirt so I am not quite the sight for the next person I encounter. I follow them to their room on the floor below me and they get me a t-shirt. I thanked them profusely an bid them good night. As they closed the door I slipped on the t-shirt they had lent me…and for whatever reason, they had given me one of her shirts…a little black t that made it about to the middle of my belly and cute little sleeves. Not really the international bon vivant look I was hoping for….I head back downstairs and try to call the emergency number again but once again fail. I am starting to abandon all hope when I notice a drop box for keys in the foyer pick it up and rattle it. I quickly turn it over and out drops one key for room 314, three down from my locked 311. Someone had checked out after the staff had gone so I went up and checked myself into room 314 for the night. Whoever had stayed in the room had been quite tidy and the bed looked barely slept in….so I hopped in bed and went to sleep. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep very well as I wanted to get back into my own room as soon as possible and not having anyway of telling what time it was I kept going downstairs hoping to catch someone as soon as they arrived. On my third trip downstairs it was 8:00 and the maid was arriving. I think my outfit might have startled her and when I tried to explain I realized she spoke no English, and I no Italian. Let the charades begin. I finally got my message across that I was locked out of my room and she demonstratively scolded me and indicated I have to keep my key in my pocket. Yes, good tip, I will try to remember that next time I sleepwalk but in the meantime could we please open my room? So she begrudgingly followed me upstairs and opened my door but before she left I gave her the other key which confused her even further. I can only imagine the talk at her dinner table that night. With my adventure over I took off my cute little top and rinsed it out and hung it to dry so I could return it. The next day after it had dried I went down to verify what room Alex and his girlfriend were in and was told they had no one like that on the second floor. If I didn’t have her shirt hanging in my room at this point I probably could have been convinced I had hallucinated them but I thought maybe they had checked out figuring she never wanted to wear that t-shirt again anyway. That afternoon as I was leaving the hotel to meet up for dinner Jerry and Bev who should be returning to the hotel but Alex and his girlfriend. I had my head down and didn’t notice them as they passed but Alex called out, “Michael?” “Oh, hey, I am so glad to see you, the front desk didn’t know what room you were in and I wanted to return your shirt” “Oh don’t worry about that, “ Alex said, “We must know WHAT HAPPENED for the rest of the night!” And that my friends is how travel tales are born.

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