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Stephen Jan 7th, 2000 07:38 PM

Why I liked the Hotel Riva in Venice and what in the world does that have to do with why I love to travel. Philosophical musing on travel.
Hello to those who are interested. I recently got an e-mail from a fellow Fodorite asking my opinion on the Riva in Venice. I answered but then started thinking of why I liked that hotel. For those of you who have stayed there, you know. For others, the Riva is a small 1 star about a block from San Marco. Great location. Lots of stairs. The hotel is at the junction of three canals. At night, actually day too, you hear accorians, guitars, sloshing of gondolas and Italian song. But, few, if any, amenities. Now, this bothered my wife. We got there and there was no soap in the shower. She saw this a problem, I saw this as an opportunity. Off I went in search of soap. Down a typical narrow street, if you can actually call it that, I found a market. At dusk it was full, as was the "street", of local people shopping for their various needs. All I needed was soap. It was a real charge to try to find the soap, to try, successfully, to pay for it, and to learn that a plastic bag would cost me 100 lire. Next time I went I took a bag, after all I'm into budget travel! The surrounding street was jammed and was mesmerizing. So many colors, sounds, smells, and totally new views at every turn of the head. The camera would have been smoking, but all I needed was soap. <BR>So what in the world does this hotel have to with why I love to travel? The Riva, and places like it, make you actually get a little involved in where you are. To often, in my humble and possibly misguided opinion, we concentrate on WHAT TO SEE. Where should we go now, what monument, what museum? Most of my travel fun has come from the unexpected experiences like soap. And the Riva. So, stay there. Go buy some soap. The Riva is a wonderful place to stay.

miriam Jan 7th, 2000 07:49 PM

Hi Stephen, <BR>nicely written! That´s exactly the way I like to travel even if you´ve not seen everything yout travelguide recommended. But those different memories will last way longer than the 5th. museum a day. <BR> <BR>Kind regards <BR>Miriam

dahlia Jan 8th, 2000 07:24 AM

B R A V O!!!!! Well said. I think that's the difference between a traveler and a tourist. IMO, you are the perfect traveling companion. I also love your postings on your recent Italian trip. Thank you.

lola Jan 8th, 2000 08:18 AM

Great post, Stephen. Agree, and appreciate your fine words.

Rex Jan 8th, 2000 12:03 PM

Very nice, Stephen, and clearly from the heart. <BR> <BR>In virtually every part of Europe that I've visited, one of the leading "attractions" is inevitably, the grocery store.

the turnip Jan 8th, 2000 07:45 PM

Great post! Please keep up the good work! Hope to read more of insights later.

Mike Miller Jan 9th, 2000 04:43 AM

Steven, I can see your attitude on life is "the glass if half-full not half-empty". Attitude is everything when traveling. Thanks for the great post.

DAvid Jan 9th, 2000 05:09 PM

Stephen: <BR>I received the same inquiry about the Riva. I too recommended it to her. I don't remember having any problems with the lack of soap but initially the front desk staff's lack of English was a challenge. Although I had studied Italian in college, I must admit I am not a very good language student. I attempted to engage an older gentleman in conversation at the desk and I got a pretty good laugh from him based on the fact that my Italian literature training amounted to a tortured reading of Pinocchio. However, my wife's ability in French came out with the fact that another front desk worker spoke French along with a smattering of English. <BR>As for your grocery story, I too probably went to the same grocery store which as far as I recall was the only one nearby. Although I didnt buy anything, I found watching Venetians shop just as interesting as some of the sights we saw. Sooooo; based on the responses you've received and my own recollections I doubt if your musings are misguided! <BR>

Sandy Jan 10th, 2000 07:22 AM

I, too, received the same query about the Riva and I wrote back that I loved it! It's my kind of hotel, great location, great price, nice folks. Even though Sondro Nash (the owner) did not speak English and I spoke no Italian, we had no problems communicating--he knew exactly why I was there and had someone show me several rooms from which to choose. <BR> <BR>And, I agree with Stephen . . . this is what makes a memorable vacation. Thanks for writing so eloquently about it. <BR> <BR>

Byrd Jan 10th, 2000 07:27 AM

Oh, how this makes me wish to be back in Venice! And next time, I won't pack the soap!!

thankyou Jan 10th, 2000 09:20 AM

Stephen- <BR> <BR>Just wondering if you have ever written a book about your travels- every post you write seems to transport me to that place. Thanks <BR> <BR>Emma

dahlia Jan 10th, 2000 05:29 PM

Stephen, how did you place your reservation? Did you call or fax? I faxed mine 5 days ago and followed up with another fax this morning, so far, I did not get any response. Please Riva fans, I need your help in getting into this hotel. Thanks. <BR>

Paulo Jan 11th, 2000 04:59 AM

Dahlia, in my experience, 1-star and quite a few 2-star hotels in Italy that are not hooked to the internet have a tendency not to answer faxes, specially if they don't have availability for the days one asks. Believe it or not, there was a hotel in Venice (3 years ago) that answered my fax via surface mail (no kidding, it took 40 days to get here in Brazil!), which is much cheaper than a phone call. <BR> <BR>If I were you, I would call and reserve. If things haven't changed, to guarantee your reservation, you'll have to either send them a money order or a traveller's check in the amount they'll tell you. <BR> <BR>Stephen, very nice post ... keep it up! <BR> <BR>Paulo <BR>

Stephen Jan 11th, 2000 03:13 PM

Hi Paulo, again thanks for the help in planning. You are always right on the money. Ditto your recomendations on reserving the Riva. I too faxed unsuccessfully and ended up reserving seccessfully on the phone. Even that took some persistence. Worth it though! <BR> <BR>Stephen

dahlia Jan 12th, 2000 08:12 AM

Stephen, Paolo - I need your help. This Riva thing is getting to be frustrating. As I said, I faxed and refaxed them but did not get an anwer. I called yesterday a.m. and again this a.m. but nobody is answering the phone!! Please confirm that I have the right #'s. Tel. (041) 522-7034; fax (041) 528-5551. Thanks a lot!

Paulo Jan 12th, 2000 08:40 AM

If you're dialing the correct country code &lt;g&gt;, you're #s appear correct (according to the site). The fax number I have in my notes is different though, but most probably in error ... <BR>- Hotel Riva (Ponte dell'Angelo, San Marco 5310, tel +39 041 5227034, fax +39 041 5228555) <BR> <BR>Pa

Sandi Jan 13th, 2000 12:53 PM

Wonderful story. My husband, our 11yr old son and I will be going to Venice for the first time in Oct. I love clean, no frills, out-of the way hotels that really show the character of the city. Would you recommend it for the 3 of us? As long as it has a bathroom and a decent view (and decent price) it sounds great!

Stephen Jan 13th, 2000 07:58 PM

Hi Sandi, yes. You may want to search "Hotel Riva" for other opinions, but I loved it.

carole Jan 16th, 2000 04:30 AM

At the risk of sounding contradictory we didn't have a very successful stay at the Riva two years ago. Firstly, I had had trouble booking like everyone else but finally got through. I sent the confirmation together with my eurocheque for the first nights stay as I had been asked to do. I telephoned before we left england just to re-confirm and was told that everything was okay and that they had received my eurocheque. I had specifically requested a room with a canal view, and, as I had booked in January for a stay in August, had been promised a lovely view of the canal. As we are a family of four I had actually booked two double rooms but only one with a canal view. When we arrived there the room with the canal view was at the very top of the hotel and only you could only see the canal by hanging right out of the window - not terribly safe. It was incredibly hot in August and I dearly regret not getting somewhere with a/c because, as someone earlier said, there are a LOT of stairs and being asthmatic in the heat up lots of stairs is not ideal. Fortunately, having two rooms meant that we could swop on the second night with our two sons who do not suffer quite as badly with the heat. <BR>Finally, when we came to leave they asked us to pay in cash which we didn't have. They had our eurocheque but said that they couldn't accept that as payment even though that is what they had requested. It was very embarrassing because it looked as if we couldn't pay and as we were leaving on a sunday the banks were closed. Also, having had two rooms for three days we were not able to draw enough cash from the cash dispenser in one go. It was a bit of a nightmare but eventually they agreed to accept the eurocheque as really there was no alternative and they had our passports for id. <BR>Its a shame really because it spoilt our experience of the hotel so when reading the other postings it makes me wonder if we are talking about the same place. <BR>We are going back to venice again this year - but definately to somewhere with a/c!

carole Jan 16th, 2000 04:36 AM

Have just re-read my posting - didn't realise it was so long - sorry.

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