even when you are home plugging through all the old stuff. Two months since we left our idyllic foothill home for the delights of exotic Venice. Wonderful as Venice is and delightful as the Italian lifestyle my appear, Italy is a foreign country, full of foreigners with strange habits and strange devices. Even when you begin to feel that Italians aren’t so different after all you get a slap in the face. Something that looks ordinary and familiar turns weird and strange. Like our stay in the Courtyard Marriott at the Venice Airport.
We checked in at the Venice Airport Hotel winding down after ten days in Venice and preparing for an early flight back to the states. And then the lights went out.
Getting ready for the trip to Venice where we would be staying in an apartment instead of a hotel and getting close to the normal lifestyle of real Venetians, we wondered if there would be surprises. The biggest surprise to us was that we weren’t really surprised. We were prepared for having no automobiles and water based rapid transit. We anticipated daily food shopping and climbing stairs. What surprised us was he local supermarket which managed to cram most everything we needed into a convenience store sized space, We found pretty much everything we needed and even more surprising many familiar brand names.
With the exception of the bathroom, the apartment was pretty much like home. We had a dishwasher, a clothes washer, a refrigerator and stove. The refrigerator was a small under the counter unit with a tiny freezer sized for the daily shopping lifestyle. Not a problem. We soon adjusted to life in Venice.
The Venice Airport Hotel just happened to be a Marriott Courtyard. We were surprised to find the familiar chain in Venice but we figured that staying in an American hotel chain on our last night in Italy would be an easy transition back to our old American lifestyle. We were very wrong.
Our Venetian Marriott Courtyard used the old familiar graphics but on every other level, it was the most alien environment we experienced during our entire trip. And it began when the lights went out.
The answer was simple but not obvious to Americans. We called the desk bewildered. The clerk patiently explained that there was a slot near the door for your room key when you are in the room. Putting the key in the slot keeps the power on in the room. Otherwise the power will shut off after a short grace period. Since this was our only hotel sty in Europe, I don’t know if every hotel room is equipped with this feature but I suspect that they are. It also explains why they only gave us one room key. They certainly wouldn’t want guests to circumvent the conservation program by leaving an extra key in the slot at all times. It isn’t annoying once you understand about that slot because the power is activated when you enter the room but it is a program that hasn’t yet been embraced in the States and it is certainly a shocker the first time it happens.
Then we also anticipated that an airport hotel- and particularly an American chain would have 24 hour room service if not a twenty four hour restaurant to cater to the odd hours of travelers changing time zones. We had an early flight and were told that we should be ready for a 5:30 shuttle in the morning. We wanted dinner so we could get to bed early but the restaurant was fully Italian. No dinner until 7:00 but we could get a pizza. We had a pizza after checking out the neighborhood for other possibilities. Then we ordered room service at 7 and went to bed.
Apparently there is breakfast included with the room but service only starts at 5:45 so we headed to the airport empty. The food selection at the airport was totally continental. You could have anything you wanted so long as it was coffee and pastry. No juice. No eggs. No fruit. The Madrid Airport wasn’t much better but by then it was lunch time and even Europeans need real food for lunch.
I’m not complaining. We wanted to experience the Italian lifestyle. We just never expected it to embrace an American hotel chain and an international airport. C’est la vie!