A few years ago, well actually 6 now, wow time does fly by, we took my daughter on vacation as a present for Graduating High School. She also brought a friend along for the trip, which I am sure made it even more fun for her, you know not having to spend 24 hours a day with Dad. As it turns out this was one of my most memorable vacations, ever. Partly because of the ability to spend so much time with her, I had been missing her terribly, so the time was priceless. We decided to spend the better part of July in Europe, I think it was about 23 or 25 days. We traveled to London, Rome, Venice, Florence, Paris and back through London. I am sure I don’t need to say it, but this was like heaven.
For this post I decided to just focus on one of the cities we visited….VENEZIA, also known as Venice. I am focusing on this city because I learned a valuable lesson here in Venice. If you have never been to Venice, what you have heard is all true, it’s magnificent, beautiful, romantic, friendly and unlike any other city in the world and yes, it is an Island (117 islands actually)that is sinking, of course it has been sinking for 100’s of years, but don’t let that scare you away, in fact you should get there as soon as you can. It is one of my favorite places in the world. But let me tell you somethings you may not know about Venice.
There are absolutely NO CARS in the city of Venice. That’s right, none! If you were to drive through Italy and arrive at Venice, you will have to park at a car lot for about 20€ a day and walk to the city, thats right your hoofing it baby!, get some good shoes. We arrived by Train, which I think is best, the train station is right along the canals, you simply get on a Water Taxi (Vaporetto) and your on your way. That is one of the charms of city, everywhere you go, is by foot, boat, and some bikes. But even with a bike it’s not easy, see all throughout Venice are canals, where there are canals, there are bridges. And these bridges have steps, lots and lots of steps. But this is one of the architectural charms of the city, it is also one of the things that makes the city peaceful and friendly, no car smog, no car horns, no middle fingers out the window, just people walking, talking, being friendly.
Something else you may not know, Venice is small. In fact you can walk from one end of the City to the next in about an hour, that is if you don’t get lost, which is possible. Venice is divided into six sections or sestieri. The Cannaregio is near the station. Also on the same side of the Grand Canal are San Marco and Castello. Santa Croce is across the Grand Canal from the train station and San Polo and the Dorsoduro are across the canal from St. Mark’s. Venice actually consists of 117 bodies of land connected by more than 400 bridges over its 150 canals. The Grand Canal is like main street, cutting through the center of the city.
Now by the time we arrived in Venice, we had already been in a number of European cities. So we rented a fantastic home along the Strata Nova, on the 3rd floor, with a wall of windows overlooking the Strata Nova. It was a very nice home, two bedrooms, kitchen, large family room over looking the city, a great place. Did I mention that this was in July, and on the 3rd floor of a walk up? So we finally get all our luggage into the apartment, and traveling with Patrick thats allot of luggage, it’s hot. I mean I am sweating, and uncomfortable, just plain hot. It’s mid afternoon, so we decide to open the windows and get unpacked, cool down a bit before we go out. We go out walk around the City, had a great time.
On day 2, I wake up fairly early, first one awake as usual, I venture into the kitchen to make some coffee. I spend a little time alone with my Cafe looking out the windows at the city below, it’s peaceful, not many people out and about, it was cool, calm and fresh. I think to myself “I better jump in the shower before everyone gets up and we are fighting for it”. Now if you have not had the privilege of using a shower in Europe, Its not quite the same as what we are used to here in the U.S. This one consisted of a tub and hand held wand to wash with, no curtain, no place to hold your shampoo or soap, but hey no problem, when in Rome, right. At this point this is how I have been showering for a week or so. I had a very nice shower, the day is going to be good! Everyone wakes, they shower, we are on our way for the day.
As we are out and about, my daughter remarks how she had a somewhat cool shower, I say “I didn’t I had a nice hot shower”, I promised her I would not use so much hot water next time.
On day 3, first one up again, same routine, beautiful morning. Jump in the shower for a much faster one this morning, want to reserve as much hot water as possible for everyone, mine was not hot, but not cold, didn’t think about it too much. My daughter finally wakes up, she would have slept the day away if I didn’t wake her. Everyone showers, right away my Daughter starts complaining, “theres no hot water”. As the father, I naturally tell her “to suck it up, your in Europe, showers are different here, you have to be fast so you don’t waste water”. I go on and on, “You can’t expect other countries to waste resources like we do in the U.S., I am sure there will be plenty of hot water tomorrow, but you have to shower faster”, essentially I blamed her for the lack of hot water. Not because I thought she did something wrong, but because she was complaining.
Day 4, first one up again, same routine, beautiful morning, can’t wait to get started. Jump in the shower, YIKES, it’s freakin’ cold. But I am not about to say a word. The rest of the sleepy heads wake, coffee, shower. Oh No, did I ever hear about cold water, my daughter, her friend, Patrick. Once again, I tell them to just suck it up, we are leaving tomorrow. “You guys are just going to have to take a faster shower”, I tell them. Now you need to understand, all three of them are just ripping on me, but I am the Dad, and I know best. So we set out for the day, had an absolutely great day. I think on this day we took a boat to the Island of Murano, you know where the world famous Glass is hand blown. Was a very good day. We arrive back to our place late, was a very long day. We all crashed pretty quickly. After all we are leaving tomorrow for Florence and have to catch a fairly early train.
Day 5, First one up again, different routine today. I walk into the kitchen and just as entered the kitchen I thought, oh wait a minute……
Now remember when I said it was hot when we arrived on day 1. Well I noticed that the air conditioning/heater was on. I knew this because it’s in the wall in the kitchen, I could see the pilot light for the heater. You know their heating equipment is quite different, anyhow the reason it was so hot in the house is because they left the heater on, so I turned it off. So I thought.
You know when you get that Ah ha moment, I got one right then and there. Ah Ha, there is no hot water because I turned off the hot water heater on day 1, DUH, IDIOT! So naturally I turn it back on before anyone wakes. Now I’m at a cross roads here, do I fess up and tell the truth, or do I say NOTHING and just let the water heat up, they will shower and be happy there is hot water and the day will go on.
Well naturally, I say NOTHING, but I do point out that I had a nice hot shower before they woke up and I encouraged them all to get in the shower quickly before it goes cold again. I must say this was brilliant, because they all showered fast and before you knew it we were packed and ready to go. Eventually I told the truth and we laugh about it now, they enjoy pointing out what an idiot I was, but I learned a valuable lesson, When traveling around the world don’t forget to ask how the Hot Water Heater works.
So when you people shower and there is no Hot Water, I suggest you first make sure I’m not around, second, check the water heater.
I was in Hot Water for days, and we didn’t even have any…