Friday morning I took the hotel’s private water taxi to St Mark’s Square. It was a 30-minute ride, and the sky began to turn from gray to blue, the beginning of a warm, beautiful day.
From St Mark’s Square, which was filled with tourists, I walked a short distance to the Westin Europa and Regina Hotel. Here is the backstory on why I wanted to go there.
In 1953 my mom and a friend went on a tour of Europe. It was arranged by a travel agent in Portland, and Mom kept a journal of their trip, which she typed up and saved. A couple years ago she found the journal, and gave it to me to read. One paragraph really stood out to me, from their arrival in Venice:
“… we gently floated along in the blue (and chilly) twilight (7:30) looking at the many curly towers against the soft, greenish-toned sky. And then Hotel Europa Britainnia. Great guns, what a place. We went up elevators, and along corridors and then up stairs and along more hallways finally ending up at room 101. Pat and I expected a garrett in back by now. But: a room done in gold brocade, on the corner of the grand canal overlooking a delightful church just across the canal. Three huge French-door windows and a balcony complete with chairs. All this on the third floor just over the canal and a gondola stop. And a huge tiled bathroom with tub large enough for high diving.”
After reading it, I got curious about whether the hotel was still there, so I Googled it and found that it exists today as the Westin Europa and Regina. Here are some pictures of it as it is today. Mom, let me know if anything looks familiar:
After walking around inside the hotel, taking a bunch of pictures, and looking for and not finding room 101, I went to the front desk and explained about Mom’s stay there 61 years ago. The clerk said there is no room 101 now. He also said the hotel has a “no photographs” policy, so I was glad I took the pictures before asking.
I walked around and shopped a little, then went back to the hotel to relieve Dave of the arduous task of lounging around the suite all morning.
At 2:30 Dave and I took the hotel water taxi, and this time we were the only passengers (it was full with 12 when I took it in the morning), and the boat driver took a different route, so I got to see Venice from clockwise and counterclockwise. He dropped us at St Mark’s Square, and we went to the cathedral.
Memorable moment of Friday: While we were standing in the cathedral at St Mark’s tomb, we heard voices singing in harmony, in an unfamiliar language that was not Italian. The words sounded like Japanese, and the tune I recognized as a hymn, “I’d Rather Have Jesus Than Anything.” We followed the sound and in a side nave of the grand cathedral was a group of Japanese celebrating Mass. We sat down with them and observed, and even though we didn’t understand any of the words, it was very moving.
We met the couple from Denver, who we met at last night’s tour, for dinner at a nice restaurant along a canal, recommended by tour guide Alessandro, and enjoyed visiting with them, a relaxing end to our second and last day in Venice.