Sunday, October 28, 2012

Venice, Day 2 – October 27, 2012

Venice, Day 2 – October 27, 2012

Transition day from the ship to the hotel.  Early breakfast upstairs in the Panorama Buffet; sat with Owen and Judith and said good-bye to several other couples as they left.  Finished up in the room and went to the lounge on the 10th deck to wait for my time to leave the ship. 

On leaving, talked with the Princess representative where the luggage was stored to ask him to help find the porters who would help take the luggage to the hotel.  He was very friendly and told me where to find the porters in a different building; he said that the porters would charge about 10 Euros per bag to take them to the hotel.  He also told me where to find the water taxi, which he said would cost about 150 Euros.  He then instructed the porter in the baggage room to take my bags to the place where the porters were available.  Everything he told me was wrong.  As always, customer service at Princess Cruise Lines was severely lacking.

The porter took my bags to the building where he said the porters were waiting, and he put my bags down outside the building.  However, there were no porters inside; because of the rainstorm, the waters were flooding the sidewalks in Venice at high tide, and porters could not take the baggage through the water.  I would have to take a water taxi to the hotel. 

Thinking that the water taxi would cost at least 150 Euros, I went to an ATM machine outside the building to get more cash.  A man wearing a polo-type shirt with horizontal green stripes like those worn by gondoliers was standing near the ATM machine, and I motioned that I would wait for him to use the machine first; however, he said that he was not waiting to use the machine and I should go ahead and use it.  I was suddenly uncomfortable with his presence, so I checked the machine to see if it had been altered in any way.  I could not detect any alteration of the machine, but I hid my hands as I punched my code numbers into the machine.  I got my cash and left, but I still felt uncomfortable.  I walked to the nearby water taxi booth and paid for the water taxi, which was not 150 Euros, but 80 Euros.  The attendant told me to look for water taxi number 7.  He also expressed surprise when I told him the name of the hotel where I would be staying; he said, “Ca’ Sagreda?  So many people today are going to that hotel!  

I then went back to the ATM machine and saw the man using the machine.  I noticed that he was typing into the machine numbers that were almost, but not exactly my numbers.  I then realized that he was listening to the sound of the beeps that people typed into the machine and then trying to match them.  I don’t know what he was using for a card or how his scam worked.  Later I checked my bank and saw that he had not been successful in withdrawing any cash from my account.  I immediately looked for a policeman, but finding none, I walked on to the water taxi stand.  As I walked toward the water taxi stand, I noticed an attendant, and I asked him where I could find a policeman.  I told him what had happened at the ATM machine, and he suddenly became alarmed.  He said that he had just used the machine, and he went immediately toward the machine to find the scammer.  I didn’t wait to see what happened, but I am hoping that he was able to have the man arrested and stopped.

Several ships were in port (as always), and the line at the water taxi stand was very long.  I found the attendant and showed him my receipt.  He told me to wait for Number 7 to arrive.  As I waited, I noticed that many numbers were called out, and many people were boarding the water taxis, however, the line was not moving.  It seemed that the people with numbers were waiting at the front of the line to hear their numbers as they were called.  So I went to stand near the front of the line, and sure enough, my number was called soon, and the attendant motioned for me to move forward to board the taxi.  It was a slow process, and precarious, as the boarding area was filled with water taxis trying to get to the pier to pick up their passengers.  My taxi eventually made his way to the pier, and I boarded, along with my luggage.  Then the taxi driver slowly backed out of the area, carefully avoiding bumping any other taxis, and we were off to the hotel.  The ride was slow but easy, and in 15 minutes, we were at the hotel.

Like all hotels in Venice, the hotel had a dock that led directly into the hotel, and the water taxi pulled up to the hotel’s dock.  When I got out of the water taxi onto the hotel dock, a hotel attendant met me wearing knee-high rubber boots, and as I made my way carefully toward the door of the hotel, I saw that the hotel lobby was filled with water about 4 or 5 inches deep.  I could see that people inside were wearing high rubber boots, and some guests were watching as I entered the hotel.  It was an amazing scene, and the hotel attendants said, “This is Venice,” as if this is the way it is in Venice.  The hotel attendant took my first bags by hand and waded through the water to put them in a dry place.  When he returned, he was pushing a luggage cart with high wheels, so the floor of the luggage cart was above the water line.  He then motioned for me to get on the luggage trolley, and two attendants pushed me through the high water to a dry place in the hotel lobby.  I was told that I would not be able to check into the hotel until 2:00 p.m., and that I could wait on the second floor of the hotel until the water subsided, in another one or two hours, when the tide went back out.  I could not go out into the streets, as they were flooded, too.  So I went upstairs to the second floor, got some coffee and did a crossword puzzle as I waited.  After an hour and one-half, I checked, and I was told that I could go outside; the water had receded enough from the streets that I would be able to walk.

I decided to walk in the direction of St. Marks Square, stopping all along to take photos.  The streets were crowded with tourists, and it was difficult to take photos, but I enjoyed the walk.  Not far from the hotel, I passed a beautiful building where music is performed, and I got tickets for Sunday to attend a performance of opera arias, and I’m looking forward to going.  When I arrived at St. Marks Square, it was still completely under water.  I took photos, and moved in the direction of the Salute church across the canal.  I asked an attendant at a gondolier station how to get across, and he pointed and told me that there was a bridge across.  This was a new wooden bridge, constructed since I was last in Venice, 12 years previously.  Before getting to the bridge, I stopped into an outdoor pizza restaurant for some pizza, and it was pleasant to watch the people walking in the rain, with their high rubber boots and umbrellas. 

I crossed the bridge, but decided not to go to Salute, but instead to return to the hotel.  I was tired from lack of sleep and contending with the bad weather.  I got back to the room at 4:00.  Later, around 7:00, I went out to a nearby sidewalk restaurant for dinner.  I got cheese lasagna, fried calamari, and a salad.  It was very good.  The time was 9:30; I changed my watch back to mark the end of Daylight Savings Time, and fell asleep immediately.  I woke up the following morning at 6:30, sleeping soundly for 10 hours.  I needed the sleep.

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