Greetings from Italy!
By Valerie Quintanilla
I arrived in Venice on Monday evening after a 10 hour flight from Frankfurt, a four hour layover and finally a short trip to Marco Polo Airport.
I don’t know anyone who loves a 10 hour flight. But, we all find ways to make it manageable. I flew Lufthansa after cashing in United miles. (Note: I was able to get a supersaver ticket with 55k miles by booking in April.) I’d heard good things about the airline and I wasn’t disappointed. Wine flowed freely and the staff pleasant. The only problem — that an airline cannot control — were my chatty seat mates who did not seem to understand personal space. These women seriously talked for 10 hours straight. Really, how is that even possible? I love to talk, in fact friends and family often comment on my gabbing talents. But even I am not capable of a 10 hour straight conversation — not to mention I’d just feel like a heel doing that on a plane when the lights are out and everyone is trying to sleep. Perhaps it was a karma thing that German chatter kept me awake (even earplugs failed me). Further, I fully subscribe to the rules of the skyway — the person in the middle seat gets the arm rest. It’s only fair! But, this trip found me developing a caveat: gaining full use of the arm rest limits you to said arm rest. One’s arm should not linger over their neighbors seat and should not elbow said neighbor in the side every 15 minutes. Needless to say, sleep did not happen. Oh well, I was Italy-bound!
I took a water shuttle to San Marco Square where I was promised a shuttle boat would whisk me to my hotel on Giudecca Island. Other options from Marco Polo include a water taxi. Cost is upwards of $100, so as a solo traveler I opted for local transit at 13 euro. I wasn’t disappointed. What a lovely way to be welcomed back to Venezia! The shuttle makes various stops en route to San Marco. And it provides a great opportunity to converse with fellow travelers. I met a lovely British couple who were on a week holiday. The gentleman surprised his wife with a trip to Venice on her birthday — she only found out she was coming three days prior! A gal from NYC was meeting up with her sister for a 10-day adventure.
I arrived at the Hotel Molino Stucky, a converted flour mill, at about 8:30 p.m. local time.
A Hilton property, I was greeted with an upgraded room and access to the exec lounge, which I parlayed in to dinner since I arrived rather late. My room was lovely. A chandelier hung above the queen bed, the furniture was cherry wood and the marble bathroom is larger than my bathroom at home — a real rarity in Europe! Slippers laid out, the bed turned down, and a bottle of Bellini waiting to be opened (it’s still waiting!) all make the nights at the Hilton Garden Inn – Gilroy, Calif. worth it. In “real life” I don’t stay at fancy hotels in Venice — or anywhere! But, I have to admit, upon entering my room, I developed a profoundly deep appreciation for my relationship with a certain hotelier named Conrad. He sure knows how to make a girl feel special so far from home!
I read reviews and even my travel agent cautioned against the Molino Stucky because it is not right in Venice. Aside from the amazing accommodations, the location was truly perfect for me. The Molino offers a free shuttle to patrons (rumor is anyone can hop aboard the Molino’s free ride to Giudecca!). The pool and Skyline bar offer unbelievable views. Sigh, and then there is the actual room. I hated leaving it. In early August Hertz blessed my Gilroy stay with a fabulous Mercedes. Saying “Ciao” to the hotel was right up there with leaving the car. What’s more, the hotel was not in the heart of tourist-run Venice. I adore the city, but it truly is a tourist trap. Staying on the outside of it all allows for the Venice feel, but with less crowds. The canal view from my room said it all!
Thus began my adventures in Italy. First stop: Venice! Time to hit the canal!
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