Lodging Adventures in Padua
"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
- George Orwell
Our lodging adventures in Padua started out great but went downhill quickly. In hindsight we laugh about it and we laughed a lot during some of it, also. I guess we could have been upset and pissed off but some of it was so ridiculous, or gross, or crazy that we had to laugh. A lot. I hope there are some chuckles in here for you as you read.
We came to Padua after our four nights in Venice. I wanted to head north because of the heat and humidity and return to Italy later when, hopefully, things had cooled down. August is definitely not a good time to be in Italy unless love you 90+ degrees and almost unbearable humidity. I do have friends who are heat lovers so August would be a perfect time for them to come here. I was ready to fly up to Sweden or Norway, the farther north the better, imo. Even Greenland came to mind. My son also found the heat to be miserable but he wanted to tough it out and stay in Italy because he did not want to get back on a plane again so soon and deal with airport, taxis, etc., especially since we had only three weeks to fill before our prepaid reservation in Florence beginning in September. We would have to come back to Italy for that even if we left, and heading north and back again would add to our expenses for sure. So, I decided to tough it out and started looking for places nearby that were interesting but wouldn't involve too much travel. Getting out of Venice sounded good to both of us (see our post under People if you want to know more about that). After some online research, we decided to head to Padua.
I reserved an apartment managed by a boutique, Hotel Belludi37. I wanted to reserve it for at least a week but it was only available for three nights. I took it anyway, thinking that might be enough time to find a place to go for the next three weeks, whether in Padua or elsewhere. The apartment was in a separate building about a half mile from the hotel in a quiet residential neighborhood. One night I went to the local grocery store where none of the employees spoke any English and I am always amazed how much can be communicated with gestures alone, if your gestures are clear enough. The apartment was two-bedrooms, with a kitchen, two bathrooms, and plenty of space. With all those amenities, it was cheaper than our 'cheap' hotel room in Venice by 50 euros a night. I can go for that! Funny that I forgot to take photos of that place while we were there.
I still needed a couple more nights to get long-term lodging set up. It not only requires a lot of research but property owners on vrbo or airbnb often require more time to respond than the same day or even next day. We knew that we didn't want to stay in Padua for a long time because the people in Padua received us about the same as the people of Venice, albeit not quite as extreme. That's the good side of a short reservation in a hotel...you get to see whether you like a place. In spite of the hassle of moving around, I was very glad that I hadn't booked a full two weeks or a month in either Venice or Padua. Since I only needed a couple more nights, I decided to book a hotel room. That's when things started to take a turn for the worse, haha...
We reserved a room online at the Crowne Plaza in Padua, which was way outside of the main area of town. I reserved a room with two beds but when we arrived, they informed us that what I reserved online was not available, even though I was holding an email in my hand confirming that room was reserved for us and it included a detailed description of the room, beds, amenities (the hotel website allows you to specifically choose what type of bed/s you want, not as a preference but an absolute because some don't want the european split-bed style).
We remained very professional and polite but they did not. Some bad customer service there, for sure. I had prepaid the room but they would not refund my money in spite of not honoring the reservation "due to their cancellation policy." Long story short, we left.
After leaving there, we got a taxi back to the outskirts of Padua and went to a hotel that had really good ratings online. I have now officially learned that online ratings don't mean a whole lot. We checked into Hotel Milano (this time I didn't prepay online after the experience I just had and the money lost). When we entered, everything looked okay at first. We told them we might stay two nights but we were not sure so we paid only for the first night. Our room seemed alright upon entering other than two very small baggies of some type and a hairband on the nightstand. This gave us a bit of the creeps and I asked my son if he wanted to go somewhere else because this musical-chair version of hotels was becoming quite humorous. He laughed and said, Yeah, no kidding! But let's stay...I'll just be sure not to touch that nightstand!
We almost immediately left our room to go see about some dinner. We went downstairs to ask about nearby restaurants and the gal at our hotel front desk said there were no nearby restaurants other than the hotel restaurant or places in Padua, about 15-20 minutes away." The hotel restaurant looked quite sketchy so we walked into Padua even though we were starving and exhausted. Nothing was open. It was dinner time by America's schedule but we discovered restaurants here do not open until about 8pm for dinner. So, we walked all the way back to the hotel so we could use wi-fi to look for restaurants. That is how we found Tola Rossa, just one block behind the hotel. At this moment, John deemed the hotel clerk either an idiot or a liar. He might have cut her a break on her misinformation if Tola Rossa had just opened last week or something but it was close by and fantastic...our first really good Italian dinner. Fantastic place. We were so grateful we didn't take her word for it and eat total crap at the hotel restaurant.
After we returned from dinner to our room at Hotel Milano, we were noticing how filthy the carpets were in the hallways and how counterintuitive the hotel layout was, in addition to not being well-marked. We found a way to always head in the right direction to our room by the stains on the carpet. Seriously. We laughed so hard...'turn right at the jizz, go past the vomit stain and it's the second door on the right after that. I'm sorry but, yes, I do have photos of that for you. I've kept them small to be kind. Of course, we can't know for sure if it's jizz in that long stream on the floor and we're not going to get anywhere near it to find out, but it was funny as hell to look at it that way and the hotel kinda had that feel to it. Gave us a good laugh every time we headed in or out of our room.
Upon returning to our room after our fabulous dinner, I stepped into the restroom and noticed something moving on the floor. Upon further examination, it was several moisture ants crawling around. We had no food in our luggage that would have attracted these little creatures. I dispatched about 30 of them in the restroom and then went out to see if there were any in the sleeping area. Well, they were in the room alright but we had not noticed them before because the floors, other than the restroom, were all very dark-stained hardwood floors. They were coming in from both the hallway and the windows. I went down to the front desk to tell them about it and ask for another room. The gal at the front desk (same one that said there were no restaurants), a very unfriendly sort of gal, said they had no other rooms available tonight. Well, there was another employee at the counter who had a different opinion and stepped in and said they did, in fact, have some rooms. She did not seem very happy about his revelation but, thanks to him, we were moved to another room. It was a very small room a few floors up, with two twin beds and, it was a cheaper room by quite a bit. Had I known about it, we might have been there all along. We don't need fancy digs (though, cleanliness would have been nice). At this point, we just needed a place to sleep, one without ants crawling all over us (I checked the new room over thoroughly, which was on a higher floor so maybe the ants hadn't made it up that far yet). We brushed off our suitcases before bringing them into the new room so as not to carry any of the ants to the next room.
Hotel Milano was so very bad that when we finally got to our beds, we started reminiscing about our day and we laughed and laughed. The first thing my son noticed, other than unending filth, was that they put their logo on everything...the light switch, the sheets, the box on the nightstand, beneath the ashtrays (which were on the nightstands just below the "No Smoking" signs), and on the 'No Smoking' signs. They had their "HM" logo slapped everywhere. We both wondered why they would proudly display their logo when they had more to be ashamed of than proud of. We were laughing so hard that we had to take breaks to catch our breath and the people in the room next to us banged on the wall, so we had to cover our mouths and keep it down. Not easy after the day we had. Our laughter about the logo progressed into coming up with creative alternatives for what "HM" could stand for that would be more accurate than the hotel's name. We came up with a ton of hilarious versions, some of which may not be appropriate for all ages, but for sure the most fitting one my son came up with was "Horrible Management." There was no way we were going to stay there a second night so, one more time...we moved.
Next, we got a room at Albergo Verdi, a boutique hotel, also with good ratings (though, I keep a healthier skepticism about ratings now). The room was clean, thank goodness. It was plain but that was fine...no ants anywhere and no really horrible carpet stains. We did notice that the room was HOT. I only reserve rooms with air conditioning because of the weather here and they said don't worry, it will come on whenever you are in the room and put your keycard in the slot. I began to work on finding lodging for the next three weeks, leery but determined to find a place we could settle into until our September reservation in Florence.
After being in the room for a couple of hours, we noticed it was still very hot and there was barely any air coming out of the air conditioner and there was no way to adjust the fan. I tried opening the window but it was even worse outside so I closed that and tried to turn the air conditioner down a bit. The control panel said you could go as low at 18 celsius, which would cool the room off well and quickly. We turned it down but nothing changed. After a while, I went down to the front desk and asked them about it. The front desk clerk said the air-conditioning won't go any lower than 28 celsius. What? Folks, that's 82 degrees. Trying to be comfortable or to sleep in a stuffy hotel room that is 82 degrees is not fun. Then, he said, you also have your window open and the air conditioner will turn off when you open your window. I said, No, I closed my window before I can down. He said, My computer shows that your window is open. What? I'm sorry but that is creepy when the front desk tracks whether your window is open. "Big Brother" Italian style, I guess. Reminded me of home, not in a good way. He said, if you close your window, I can grant you a temporary decrease on your air conditioner for a couple of hours to 24 celsius (75 degrees, with no fresh air allowed). Couldn't wait to check out of there either. I understand that air conditioning and utilities are very expensive in Italy. I totally get that but I feel you should not advertise that you have air-conditioned rooms if you are going to keep them at 82 degrees. To most people, air conditioning means that they will feel cool and have some relief from the heat.
One quite hilarious, yet also weird, thing about Albergo Verdi hotel was their toilet and bidet. They were SO high, the top came to mid-thigh on me, and I'm 5'4", not that short! This definitely wasn't a handicap unit...very tight quarters). Even my 6-foot-tall son could hardly get up on them. They were super uncomfortable, probably due to the height. Omg, too funny. Perfect ending to our last night in Padua.