I stalk the Delta Airlines website with the flexible dates option checked hoping to find a bargain fare to Europe. Italy is my favorite destination, and in late summer an irresistible frequent flyer ticket popped up for a direct flight from ATL to Venice and another direct flight from Milan home to ATL. I called a friend on my A list of travel buddies who can make a quick decision, and within the hour we each had booked a ticket. (These unannounced fare sales disappear fast; I never count on finding them the next day.)
On the second Monday night in October we were flying to my favorite Italian city. There were no seats left in Comfort, and my last flight in Premium didn’t seem worth the extra money, so we shoehorned ourselves into our window and aisle seats. I’m tall, and that nine hours felt like riding in a ladder back chair with no leg room (after stowing my backpack under the seat) and precious little recline (in consideration of the gentleman behind me who thoughtfully retrieved my falling pillow all night.) Two hours in and I would have happily paid plenty for some more legroom and recline, but will think about that next time. For now we’re on our way to Venice!
Checked bags arrived soon after we deplaned; the machine selling vaporetto passes worked; and with only a few wrong turns I found the desk to book a water taxi - a luxury I can rationalize if there’s a traveling companion to split the cost with. A Venetian friend told me years ago to not even think about tipping the boat captain, because “they make too much already!”
We’re staying at the Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo, near the San Stae vaporetto stop, and they have a water door. I love it when the water taxis make the long ride down the Grand Canal, but because of our hotel’s location, the driver understandably came in a back way, skipping most of the GC completely, but he did hand us over the wobbly gangplank directly into our hotel, a new Venetian experience!
I like to stay in the Dorsoduro or San Polo in an apartment, but would definitely book again at this hotel. www.alpontemocenigo.com We had to upgrade to a premium room to get a reservation, and those are on the second floor, up about 30 steps, but our high ceilinged, beamed bedroom was very comfortable. A varied breakfast in a lovely open-air courtyard was included. Good beds, modern bathrooms, and friendly, helpful front desk. This is a residential area, far from the tourist grind, where Venetians actually live and eat. About fifty feet from the hotel door is the San Stae vaporetto dock. A few stops in one direction and you’re at the Rialto Bridge; a few stops in the other direction, and you’re at the Accademia Bridge. A perfect location for travel by boat!
Weather in Venice was beautiful, if a little warmer than anticipated. We weren’t in top form that first afternoon, but stayed outside, upright, and moving. This was my friend’s first visit to Venice, and we walked the neighborhoods from our hotel to the Friari Church to Campo Santa Margherita, past the gondola workshop, and on to the Accademia Bridge to watch the boats in the golden afternoon light, with stops along the way for a slice and a Spritz.
Venetian food is too good to risk settling for a restaurant with available tables, so I asked our hotel to make reservations for our first two nights before we left Atlanta. Our first night’s dinner was at their recommended Antico Gioardinetto in our neighborhood. Wonderful seafood pastas, and a big plate of traditional Venetian appetizers, all good. (I ate the weird ones and let Alison have the more recognizable creatures.) I love ordering house Prosecco by the liter in Venice. I’m no wine connoisseur, but am always surprised at how good house wines usually are in Italy. It’s been a long day. Said yes to drugs, and slept well.