In the category of “Cry Me a River, Miss Expatria,” I’ve been trying to figure out how best to make a mini-vacation out of my giddily secured hotel room at the Grand Hotel Miramare. And to my utter horror/fascination, it’s proven to be more difficult than I ever imagined. I’ve whined about this before, but now it’s getting down to the wire, and I’m into full jet-setting diva panic mode. WHERE WILL PRINCESS LAY HER HEAD?
In case you’re keeping score at home, our plan is to spend one night at the swank hotel in Santa Margherita Ligure and two additional nights at an inexpensive hotel in the same general area. Then I would go on to Rome for Marco’s 40th birthday and various other festivities, and Cal would return here to Montpel.
It’s a four-hour train ride from here to Nice. From Nice to Genova, Italy, another three hours and change. From Genova to Santa Margherita Ligure, 45 minutes. That adds up to between eight and nine hours – no problem for Cal and me, as we love train travel.
However, the actual train ride varies from 12-16 hours when you actually go to book it, depending on whether you want to spend half the night literally sidetracked on an overnight train somewhere in northern Italy, or wake up at 4AM and travel all day in time to pass out in the very hotel room I worked so hard (click, click, click) to get.
Well, I thought, we’re free and easy – why not break up the trip and spend one night at a hotel halfway there, and the rest at our destination? After all, there is nothing between us and our destination except for the French and Italian Riverias – fabulous!
No. Not fabulous. Excruciating.
As I’ve mentioned recently, I have specific requirements for the “other” hotel. I defend these requirements, especially considering that one of the nights we’ll be in a five-star hotel; I’ll just get depressed staying in something less than adorable.
First, there is the matter of timing. Many of the hotels along the Italian coast are closed the first week in December. But this information, which I dare say is vital, is only discoverable after straining one’s eyes reading a convoluted, four-tier pricing chart on a back page hidden under some old socks.
The next alarming matter is the fact that Web 2.0 has not woven its way to my favorite peninsula. The websites are ghastly, unnavigable and downright cruel to the user. I’ve had more than one shut down my Firefox.
My final issue is best described with the help of visual aides.
(Oh God, I just realized that the site for the Grand Hotel Miramare has AUDIO. It’s “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armtrong. Italians have a weird fascination for this song, and use it often in anything from advertisements to on-hold music. Sigh. Italians. What are you gonna do with them? Anyway, look at the rooms. It’s a grand old dame of a hotel, and the rooms reflect that.)
Compare those rooms to the following example of hotel finery. I’m giving you one, as any more would surely blind you:
This would be the junior suite at the Nyala Hotel in San Remo. I mean, really. What am I supposed to do with this picture, other than immediately blog about how horrible it is? Although, this one at least has some panache – the other ones look more like the conference room of a small paper company circa 1981.
My new plan is to convince Cal that what with the first night being less than 20 bucks, we should just spend another night there and call it a wash.
I mean, really. LOOK AT THAT ROOM.