We Have To Pay For That?
It happened! In the heart of Venezia (Venice to most)! Though it wasn't a complete squat toilet, I definitely came across the smallest toilet I've ever seen today. It was just a small toilet bowl on the floor.
After our lovely lunch (which I'll address later) this encounter happened. Shelby rolled her eyes as I said, "wait I need to take a picture to document for the blog!!" I won't detail the experience, but I will say everything was a success and I now have the ability to say I've done it! (Giggles)
Needless to say, today has been another day full of culture differences. At first, some new information was rather appalling until I changed my perspective and looked at my American cultural ways from an outside perspective. Let's start from the beginning..
Venice.. Boats, canals, tourists, and random little fees for everything. That sums it up pretty well. We started to explore the city and wind our way through the buildings. Initially I had this dream of taking a gondola ride through Venice, until I learned that it's 80+ euros a trip. I won't even pay 80 euro for a hotel, which provides me a bed and a bathroom and sometimes a nice view of the city, so I decided against the true Venice way. After seeing the hoards of people watching every gondola and snapping photos of people, and witnessing gondola traffic I decided I made the better choice staying on foot.
I realized, after an hour of wandering, that we had only been seeing a small portion of the entire island- and I was feeling a bit disheartened. This is Venice! Where is everyone? And why does everyone love this city so much? I just wasn't seeing it. We also kept seeing "cover charge" on every place to eat when we were trying to find lunch.
We decided to google just what this cover charge meant, and what we should expect when we sit down to eat. Turns out the cover charge can change. And there is no city limit on what a restaurant or server can charge you for. We had read in forums that people had even been charged for using the fork and knife! Wait a minute! Was my first thought. Followed by, this is ridiculous, they're robbing people!
As we kept reading, we had to adjust our thinking. In Italy, and all over Europe, they put the price on the menu and that is exactly what you pay. Where as in America there is a price and then you have taxes that you pay. It's been nice really being able to calculate exactly what we owe when we get food or buy stuff in a store because there is nothing hidden. I can imagine when a European comes to America and thinks they're paying one thing and then taxes get added and they think Americans are robbing them. So this cover charge is kind of like that. Also, tipping is a very, very American thing. We stopped tipping back in Belgium when we read that tipping is completely unnecessary in Europe. So once again, these Italian restaurants have their price, but they don't have taxes added on and they don't expect a tip, therefore this cover charge didn't seem so bad anymore. However, we were still wary about not knowing what a place would charge us, so we decided we wouldn't eat in Venice.
We continued on, wandering about seeing more of the city. Like a little mouse in a maze we just zigged and zagged about the alley ways, over canals, until we got too hungry. I felt a bit better when we found the tourist spots, and the sun came out. I had dreamed of this beautiful canal filled Venice, I was determined to see my vision.
We decided to grit and bear it, maybe the charges wouldn't be so bad. We were hungry and in Venice- it's part of the adventure! We found a little pizzeria in a back alley somewhere and went in. We ordered, and were promptly brought a little tomato starter. I smelled it (as I smell everything) and looked at Shelby and said, "you know we are getting charged for this" and then we ate it. Mm
All through the meal, our server kept making jokes with me and telling Shelby things while laughing and winking at me. I'm fairly certain he thought there were sparks. He was pretty awesome, and had it not been such a small crowded place, I would have requested a photo with him.
We ended our meal with these little raspberry liqueur chocolate cup shots (take the shot and then eat the chocolate cup) so yummy. Once again we joked that we would get charged for that! And I told Shelby we needed to wait to use the toilet until AFTER we paid so they didn't add THAT on to our bill also. To our surprise we weren't charged for the extras or the bathroom and the price of our meal was quite reasonable. Probably Shelby not using her fork combined with my flirting with the server had something to do with it. ;) maybe.
We spent the rest of the day getting deeper into the city, thinking we knew where we were going, until I pulled up the GPS and realized we were in the complete opposite area as we thought. My feelings towards Venice changed, and I came to appreciate the sinking city. It's still the most expensive city we've seen in awhile, and the culture here is different. We were getting used to the Northern European cultures. We need to adjust our mindset and take it for what it is here. I forget sometimes that I can't compare one place to another because of the culture. I also need to remember that I can't assume everything to be how I'm accustomed to it being. That's part of this journey! Turns out we saw the whole city, and walked over 10 miles once again. Seeing a pattern?