Sitting in the water bus, I watched the dock at the Venice airport disappear from sight. Anticipation grew as I wondered what was in store ahead of us. Would I gasp from the beauty as I did the Duomo in Florence? Would I be disappointed because my expectations were too great?
I knew that there were those who found Venice to be old, dirty and crowded. I had read that in the heat of the summer, the water could get smelly. I told myself that none of that would matter. I told myself the beauty and uniqueness would be enough to make those things unimportant. What if I was wrong? It was so important to me for me to love Venice? Why? Because it had become the destination of my dreams.
Unlike the Duomo which suddenly appeared out of nowhere, the outskirts of Venice gradually appeared from the distance. As we cruised closer and closer, I grew more delighted. It was just as I pictured and I loved each colorful facade that came into view. Yes, the buildings looked tired and worn in real life, but that's because they were old. That's what made them so special.
We disembarked from the boat at our stop unsure of our next move. Armed with a map and the hotel address, I pointed us in the direction I thought our hotel to be. By this time it was mid-day, hot and crowded. Most of the streets were really alleyways, making it difficult to maneuver around with our suitcases. I was glad that we just packed for the night and left most of our things in the car.
The map was difficult to follow as the alley ways were more like a giant confusing maze. Somehow we were headed in the right direction because just when I was about to give up we stopped to ask some one for help and we were told to go one more block where we come to a courtyard and our hotel should be there. As we walked down the block before us, we were greeted with buildings that looked even more run down than the others, sprayed with graffiti.
My stomach lurched nervously. I turned to apologize to Liz for booking a hotel in such an undesirable area when I stopped in surprise. There in front of us was the little courtyard as promised and the buildings surrounding the area now looked normal again. Well, as normal as anything could look like in Venice.
The door to the hotel was locked, but opened when we rang the doorbell. Cool air immediately greeted us, a much welcome relief from the heat.
Still unsure of what to expect, we made our way to a little office to check in. The young woman behind the counter was friendly and sweet. Our room was not yet ready but we could leave our bags as we explored our surroundings. The place looked clean enough. My nerves were beginning to calm and my excitement grew again.
As much as we wanted to explore, our first order of business was to fill our rumbly tummies. The hotel clerk gave us a few recommendations, the first of which seemed to be the easiest. Cross over the bridge right outside the courtyard and there would be a restaurant called The Mamo. As we began to walk away, I stopped and asked the clerk, if we were to get lost, was there a landmark that we could name that would help someone know where we were.
She smiled and said that our little courtyard was the Campo de la Flava. I loved how she referred to it as "our little courtyard". I took the business cards, she handed me with the hotel name, address and phone number and gave one to the girls and one to Liz.
And our exploration of Venice began.