Saturday, April 17, 2010

God's Hotel

After our daylong non-adventure, the Engineer and I were forced to call it a night in San Remo.  Like Mary and Joseph (except not at all), most of the inns were full due to a poker tournament at the local casino and we were sadly turned away.

Except at Villa de Maria.  An old rambling mansion that had more rooms than furniture and high enough ceilings to warrant another floor (if this was Vancouver).  We were led up a winding staircase, down a long hall that was lined with, and I am not kidding, about 60 framed Jesus faces.  From an needle pointed Jesus face, to serene paintings of the Madonna and baby Jesus, to Jesus dead on the cross, to ones that stare into your soul, we quickly realized we were perhaps more like Mary and Joseph than we originally thought.

Outside our room was a carved statue of the Madonna in front of a poster that listed every Pope since there ever was a pope.  Above our bed, there was a small-framed painting of a mother and child.  Not necessarily Mary and Jesus, but the implication was definitely there.

I was slightly confused.

Who wouldn’t be?

I mean I know this is Italy and all, but an actual hotel whose theme is Jesus?  I was definitely used to seeing little Mary shrines on nearly every corner, but in my actual hotel room?

Anyways, the Engineer, being sick, put himself straight to bed while I headed off in search of the train station and tickets. 

As I left God behind, I wandered the candy coloured streets of San Remo, that were filled with, ironically, gamblers and their ‘chip bunnies’ – Italian women wearing ridiculously high heels that impeded their ability to walk with dark roots and gobs of make-up.  Quite the contrast from God’s hotel.

After a half an hour of rambling, I located the station and went to buy the tickets.  I chose the automatic machine because they are so much better than talking broken (read: non speaking) Italian. 

The Engineer and I love these ticket machines. They have lots in common with the Bancomats.  The common thread?  They both give you the option of reading instructions in English but revert back to Italian halfway through the transaction.  Therefore, when I tried to purchase my Nice tickets, there was some sort of sentence telling me the reason I wasn’t able to.

I found out that there was a strike in France.  The Engineer and I have just both finished reading ‘A Year in the Merde’ where the protagonist (an Englishman) must learn that the French have strikes practically everyday.  Therefore, I wasn’t surprised.

There was only one ticket out of Italy and that was at 9:00 in the morning.  Good thing we got so lost earlier, otherwise I would have been even more mad if we weren’t able to catch a train that day.

Back to God’s hotel.  Not before stopping and picking up some (don’t hate me) Chinese take-away.  My last meal in Italy and I ate Chinese food.  I was just so curious what the Italy take on Chinese food would be.  That and I was sick of dealing with mediocre pasta and didn’t want to search for a perfect restaurant.

Then bed.  Seven hours of driving to nowhere really tires out a girl.

Every time I moved in bed, the headboard made a loud double knock against the wall.  I would wake up in a panic thinking God was knocking at my door.  The Engineer, in his comatose state, would look at me blearily and tell me to ‘shut up’. 

This clearly was not the honeymoon suite. I mean not only does a newly married couple have to deal with Mary and baby Jesus judging them, but also the headboards are so loud that the entire hotel would be judging them.

I went to take a shower only to discover that not only did the bath not have a shower curtain, but that there were four taps and only a hand-held nozzle. Hmmmmm. 

Well, I thought I could at least bathe myself but when I turned on the mix of four taps (the combination to turn on hot water and some pressure) I flicked on the ‘shower’ nozzle.  The ‘shower’ nozzle sprinkled out some of the water half-heartedly. 

I started to laugh.  The Engineer came to check my progress and help me attempt to get at least my hair washed.  This combined effort worked eventually.  It was a ballet act of turning the various knobs to get the best hot water/pressure ratio and then rubbing the nozzle against my scalp to get my hair wet. 

Then came the towel.  I can only compare this towel to the thin sheet of fabric one uses to cover themselves at the doctor’s office.

Let me remind you this hotel was three stars and 100 Euro a night.  All of the other places we stayed, including scary hotel in Florence, came with nice fluffy bath towels and fully running water.

I ran downstairs for breakfast, past rambling hallways, random empty rooms full of gold furniture, and corners that were shrine-like with angel candles and what appeared to be Christmas decorations, for a cappuccino and coco-puffs.  My view was an orange tree.  Which is always a treat.

We left God’s hotel, not before bumping into, and again I am not kidding, a priest.  And with God’s hotel, San Remo and Italy.

Not an ideal last day in Italy, but a random, quirky and unexpected one.  Much like Italy itself.

Arrivederci Italy.  Te Amo.

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