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October in Venice

A light drizzle spit as I emerged from my hotel room at 6:30 PM, not heavy enough to worry about as walking close to the storefront over hangs seemed to provide enough shelter to stay reasonably dry. The darkening October sky was gray, but the precipitation seemed intermittent. I’ve never been an “umbrella guy,” preferring instead to utilize what ever cover naturally exists and travel light.

My room was situated in a modest, but clean hotel situated about two hundred yards East of the main train station. I rarely reserve rooms in advance and this trip was no exception. I prefer to arrive with only a backpack, look around a little, then stay in a place that looks nice. On this particular trip, I arrived at Marco Polo early and took a water taxi to Piazza San Marco. Locals informed me that my best chance to find inexpensive lodging was to walk Northeast to toward the train station. As most of the hotels close to San Marco tend to be expensive and booked, I took the advice and had no trouble finding a nice three star room on the North end of the island. On my way North, I stopped frequently to relax and take in the sights. I joined a group of young people drinking “Bombs” (a mixture of sweet red vermouth, Campari, sugar, and God knows what), on the north side of the Rialto Bridge then meandered through the alley ways toward the train station.

By the time I booked my room, it was past three o’clock and after traveling all night and walking all day, I was beat. I decided to take a shower and rest until dinner. The shower in my room was so small, I had to open the door slightly to bend over to pick up the soap. The width of my bed took up the whole room save about eighteen inches - just enough for your legs when sitting on the edge. After showering, I laid down and was out in minutes. I woke at about a quarter to six and dressed for the evening.

Interestingly, many Venetian hotel operators won't allow you to keep you room key when you leave the premises. So before setting out for the night, I had to check my key at the hotel desk. To prevent you from “accidentally” taking the key with you, this particular operator attached a ridiculous, gigantic tassel to the ring, large enough to prevent you from even placing the key in your pocket. As I handed my key to the man at the desk, I informed him that I may be late and asked if he would be around to return the key to me so I could enter my room. He said he would; so with that, I set out for a night in Venice.

Walking close to the old buildings to take advantage of any overhead cover, I headed toward the Rialto. My head was still unclear from my nap. “God, I though, I need a drink.” About a hundred meters from my hotel I spotted a group of people milling around in front of a bacaris (wine bar). The great thing about staying in Venice overnight is that after about six o’clock, most of the tourists vacate the island, leaving only the hotel dwellers and locals. After a long day of dealing with the tourists, many locals head for the bacaris for a “happy hour” drink and light meal. At bacaris, as long as you buy a drink (I recommend the red house wine - usually a good bet), you could eat all the free (and delicious) finger foods you wanted and visit with real Venetians. This particular bacaris was overflowing with Italian speaking locals. I ordered a red wine to clear my head and rejuvenate.

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