Archive for Tourism


Meanwhile, over in Barcelona…

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1x1.trans Meanwhile, over in Barcelona...

Well they’re not so drunk that they can’t be laughing about it. I just can’t quite figure out what’s so funny. (Photo: Vicens Forner).

I know that I promised not to talk about degradation and tourism anymore.  Yet here I am.

Or rather, here they are.

In case I didn’t mention, or even hint at it, I realize that Venice is not the only place on earth which experiences rogue tourists.  I hope I didn’t give the impression that I thought Venice was unique in suffering this scourge.  I merely wanted to say, “It’s happening here, it needs to stop.”

However, reverence for truth compels me to widen the picture, in part because the wild things in this case do not make my heart sing, and they’re Italians.

What they got up to in Barcelona trumps anything I can offer in the way of gobsmacking madness.  I don’t defend them in any way, I just want to say two small things:

First, bodies like theirs cry out to be exhibited (though not fully frontally).  I know that’s a stupid thing to say, I just wanted to acknowledge all those hours they put in at the gym, and whatever supplements they take.

Second, how could anybody manage to run around a city naked for THREE HOURS?  I can understand totally why the photographer followed them around the entire time (though someone could reasonably ask why he didn’t stop them, while he’s so busy complaining about tourists) — they’re just as cute as little buttons.

But what finally brought them to a stop?  Did they run out of gas?  Hit a cold front?  Suddenly realize they had nowhere to put their money and passports?  Or did the photographer finally tell them he had enough pictures, so they could get dressed?


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Hostel 2.0

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1x1.trans Hostel 2.0

Nothing like a palazzo, but something that was much more useful: A converted 19th-century grain warehouse.

Up to now, my idea of the average hostel has been deduced from the average hostel-dweller, at least as seen around here in the summer.

Every sweltering day the vaporettos carry payloads of dauntless wayfarers and their gear, 80-pound backpacks that look as if they’d just arrived via the Old Silk Road lashed to the chassis of a 2 1/2-ton 6×6 truck.  Their owners don’t look much better, pounded like Swiss steaks by summer heat and malnutrition and the cumulative effect of too many languages and sleepless nights during their seemingly free-form peregrinations.  Their clothes appear to have forgotten what it ever meant to be clean.  These travelers might have credit cards and laptops and tablets these days, but going to a hostel still struck me as meaning they were essentially going to be sleeping in a multi-bed hangar, with a bucket by their heads to catch the rainwater coming through the roof.

Wrong again.

There has been a hostel in Venice since the Fifties, and it was (I’ve been told) of the Old School. I never visited it, but I read its rules once somewhere and was sorry to learn that in addition to everything else that seemed to suggest the aftermath of a festival as painted by Brueghel, the paying guests were required to get out by 11:00 AM and take their stuff with them. That seemed harsh.

But no more.  Not long ago I got an e-mail from Generator Hostels, alerting me that they had re-done the “Ostello” on the Giudecca, and inviting me to take a look at it.

I have never written about a commercial operation on my blog. It’s been a point of pride. But this philosophy, to which I am still faithful, runs head-first into my desire to be useful.  If the new hostel is a good thing, I ought to know about it.

So I went. I was shown around by Operations Manager Keti Camillo, and even if she hadn’t been so helpful, I’d have been impressed.

Bear in mind that I’m not risking the claim that this is the best hostel on the planet, because I don’t know.  But I do know that for Venice, this is a remarkable lodging resource.

This is not an infomercial.  I haven’t been paid anything by anybody.  I am merely letting you know about this place because I think it’s amazing, and I would happily stay here myself.

Naturally I consider that the maximum compliment.

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I recommend visiting a new place on a grey, foggy, rainy day. If it can overcome that, you can assume it will be even warmer and more appealing on sunny days. Here, the bar faces the entrance. Makes an excellent first impression.

1x1.trans Hostel 2.0

There’s something mysterious about how chairs salvaged from somebody’s backyard heap come to look so cool.


1x1.trans Hostel 2.0

Most of the ground floor is just one warm, eclectic little nook after another.

1x1.trans Hostel 2.0

This nook between two other nooks is occupied by this reworked four-poster bed which evidently has power to draw people onto it and keep them there, prone, for hours. Certain hours, anyway.

1x1.trans Hostel 2.0

This is the dining room, done up refectory style.

1x1.trans Hostel 2.0

So you’re ready to sleep. The landings/floors are color-coded and given Venetian names.

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Hallways: Wide, bright and clean. Like everywhere else in the building. These are not words I normally associate with “hostel.”

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Of course there are shared rooms and bathrooms. But they’re really clean, and there appear to be enough for everybody. By which I mean: Not just one toilet for 40 people. Bonus point: The mattresses are wider than usual for single beds. There may still be a snorer in the room, but nobody can help that.

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But there is a private double room with private bath. There are also some private triples and quads, but I didn’t see them.

1x1.trans Hostel 2.0

It’s not exactly an order. More like a strong suggestion.


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Happy baguette to you

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Just to show that it’s not all lamentation and garment-rending out here, I’m sharing a glimpse of a blithe little moment in the Piazza San Marco this morning.

Four French women (no, they hadn’t been sent as reparations, or hostages, by Napoleon…) were celebrating the birthday of one of them.  It was pretty sweet.  I didn’t ask what else the day had in store for them.  Any people who are able to come up with this as the centerpiece of a party are capable of just about anything, and I hope they did them all.

1x1.trans Happy baguette to you

This sort of celebratory stegosaurus-tail baguette certainly upstages your ordinary old cupcake. The woman on the left was celebrating her “28th-and-a-half” birthday. I don’t see a half candle, but never mind. I didn’t wait to watch, but trying to light, and keep lit, 28 candles facing  into the wind was kind of like trying to keep all those plates spinning on their little sticks.   Anyway,I wasn’t there to stage-manage their birthday bread. They were having a great time, and that’s the end of the story.

1x1.trans Happy baguette to you


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Finding Venice everywhere

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I recently remarked on the extraordinary eagerness of people at every compass point to name some local enterprise for Venice (I exclude the Venetian Casino Resort Hotel in Las Vegas and/or Macao as being too screamingly obvious to be interesting).  And I offered the Trattoria Citta’ di Venezia in Conegliano as an example.

A reader e-mailed me a brief note in response: “Just to prove your theory,” she said, and as evidence presented the photo below, taken in Krakow, Poland.

If any other hardy readers want to join the scavenger hunt, I’d be very glad to get a photo of whatever Venicely-named establishment or undertaking you come across.  For possible, even probable, publication here.

Note: No fair doing any searches and uprooting photos from websites.  The only rule is that it has to be a place you’ve seen with your own eyes. If you can’t take a photo of it, for some reason, I’ll accept a postcard.

1x1.trans Finding Venice everywhere

This business earns one extra point for throwing in an extra non-Krakovian placename.

1x1.trans Finding Venice everywhere
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