Episode 1 – Venice all aboard
The flight was nothing to write home about. The flight was delayed. Air Canada is famous for this. The delay might actually cause some inconvenience as we have to catch the connecting in Frankfurt. Frankfurt airport is under renovation now and the walk from one end of the airport to the other end is a task you might not be able to finish within 1 hour since there are security checks you have to go through. Since you have to get your boarding pass again, it is well advised you should go directly to the gate and obtain your boarding pass there.
Fortunately, the pilot of our plane made up the loss of time and we did not have to face the stressful situation. Once you enter the EU (European Union) countries, you can pretty well fly from one country to another just like a domestic flight. How wonderful this is. You can land in London, get on a plane, go to Milan, do your shopping and back to Paris for dinner within a day. That is living!
Our flight to Venice is just a simple plane ride. Lufthansa is so punctual with their time that it is not even funny. The Venice airport is actually small but there is an information desk right by the entrance door that you can ask for maps and bus routes. Patience is the virtue here. There are massive people waiting in line to get the information they need and the poor receptionist is trying to contend with different languages. If you want observe how the human mind works, here is the place. Here you can see people talking in 5, 6 languages at the same time. It is a miracle they never get their words mixed up. You would hope for a universal language by then.
We waited in line and got our bus tickets. We went outside the airport to the waiting area and it was crowded beyond belief. There were also people trying to sell private bus tickets. The bus fare is almost twice as the public transit and both of them travelled the exact same route. There is 1 exception, the private bus is green and our bus is yellow. It took 30 minutes or so to arrive at the dock. I was falling asleep by then.
Venice is a patch of marsh land. It is easier to get around by boat – water taxi – as they call it. The bus ride was alright except the bus driver was a nascar driver in his previous life. He huffed and he puffed and he put the pedal to the metal. Even the wino on the bus was woken up by the turbulence. He got up and he swore in Italian to the driver since he almost missed his stop and of course, being a friendly person, the bus driver responded with equal intensity. That was my warm reception on Italian soil.
Place de Roma is a place that everyone goes to find their bus. It is crowded and chaotic. The cruise line promised complimentary shuttle service from the piazza to the ship but the shuttle bus could not be found. There were lines of people all waiting for something. We found a driver who initially spoke some English, but when he discovered we were waiting for the shuttle service and would not hire his taxi, he spoke only Italian and no “Inglisse” We found our way to the ship by walking. Try dragging 2 pieces of luggage on a hot summer afternoon on a busy hi way for 20 minutes arriving at the wrong gate and we had to start all over again, was not my idea of a vacation. I got the feeling; my wife and I are travelling like our younger days when nothing is impossible. It was a warm feeling though. My heart was jumping out of my chest when we arrived at the boat. I did not care if the young Italian woman kept winking at me. I must look ridiculous enough she wanted to recruit me for the circus.
The boat did not have enough staff of their own so they hired local help. The young Italian men and women could only speak some English and they were not much help when you want details. The local help was not trained well enough and our questions were passed back and forth between the associates, supervisors and higher level administrators. Frankly, they know beans what was going on and neither did we.
While we were waiting in line for the processing, I walked along the hall and I found Dennis waiting in line with his lovely wife Maria and their son Roger. It was an exhilarating moment. We found each other again. The trip to Provence was shared with Dennis and Maria. This must be the continuation of our journey together.
We deposited our belonging in our cabin and we were out to explore Venice with Dennis and family.