Spring of 1969
I have fond memories of this beautiful red and green hotel from when I visited, in 1969. I also remember hating it, before I loved it. That's how I was at age 11.
By the time my family arrived in Venice, we had been living in Florence for 4 months. Those first days, adjusting to our new world in Italy, were far behind us. All 6 of us spoke some Italian... some better than others. I was used to old buildings and cheek pinching Italian grandmas and even the occasional old man, who might swat me with his cane. By May, I adored Italy and I was thrilled to be heading with my family to the city of canals, the place I had only dreamed about!
But by the time we arrived at the canal side hotel, I was as moody as I'd been those first days in Florence. The ride on the canal bus had been jolting. The stench from the murky water had me on edge, even before I started spotting trash and debris. The sight of a dead kitten floating by, did me in. When we reached our hotel, I was sulking. The room seemed dark and claustrophobic. There were no high ceilings, like everywhere else in Italy.
The Mood Lifts!
But something happened in the next few days. Venice did its magic. My siblings and I were let loose to explore on our own. If we weren't climbing up bell towers or feeding pigeons in Piazza San Marco, we were playing on the bridge in front of our hotel. (I do remember a terrifying moment, when a college student friend, teased my brother by hanging him over the canal!)
I began to love our cozy hotel room and especially the window! We kids had some fun, trying to communicate with the boy in the apartment, directly across the canal. I loved the sounds that came filled our hotel room from below... voices echoing, gondoliers singing and even the occasional splash, of trash being dumped from a window. (For some reason, this didn't alarm me)
By the time we packed up and said good-bye to Hotel Splendid, I claimed Venice was my favorite city in the world. And to this day, if I catch a whiff of a certain sewer-like smell, I sigh and proclaim, "Smells just like Venice!"
It looks like Hotel Splendid is still going strong, since our stay 50 years ago. The exterior is still brick red, but the interior has gone totally upscale. How I would love to go back and stay in one of their luxurious rooms and open the windows to watch the canal activity. The water has been cleaned up, so I wouldn't be able to enjoy my favorite smell. But, I think I'm okay with that!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!