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Monday, December 17, 2007

A Room with a View

There's something about a room with a view, isn't there? Being able to step out onto a balcony, patio or veranda, however tiny or grand, and gaze out at a bustling street scene, a pretty piazza, a shimmering ocean, sparkling bay, or a still glassy lake. Watery views are my most coveted. I'll select one hotel over another simply for its sea vistas. I've visited Positano a couple of times and while the much-written-about hotel is Le Sirenuse, both times I've chosen Covo dei Saraceni because it's just that much closer to the water. It's beside the beach, next to the port, and when you walk out onto your balcony you look right onto the sea and the action on the sand. Plus there are magical views back up to the pastel-painted town that sprawls across the mountain. The closer I am to the water, the happier I am. I want to wake up to sunrises over the sea, hear boats bobbing on the water, feel the warmth of the sun on my feet as I drink a cup of tea in the morning, have to close the curtains a little to shut out the searing light from the sun during siesta, watch that big ball of fire sink into the sea, enjoy balmy evening breezes on my cheeks, and be able to count the stars before I go to bed. The first time we visited Venice, we stayed at a pension with two tiny balconies that looked onto a canal. In the early evening my husband and I would each take one and with a glass of wine would watch the gondoliers go by, singing and waving up to us, and we'd wave across to each other. A few summers later we were hunting for an apartment to rent in Venice and my main criteria was two identical balconies with canal views. I found an elegant little antique-filled studio in an old palazzo and I was pleased to find my balconies. We continued our evening ritual there and it was equally as wonderful as it was the first time. When we were younger and we backpacked around Mexico and Europe, we would stay at budget places in old towns and the prerequisite was always a window or balcony that overlooked the main street or square so we could wake up to the sounds of locals chatting on their way to work in the morning and in the evenings we could sit with a glass of wine in hand watching the action down below. Which in small towns in Mexico, Spain, Portugal, and Italy was always the evening passeo or passagiatta on the piazza, the slow social walk around the square, and in bigger cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Rome, invariably involved drinking. I have stayed in so many hotel rooms in cities now that I finally realize that a room at the front that opens onto a street will inevitably mean a sleepless night, but if I'm by the sea it's unquestionably a room with a view for me.


TravelMuse said...

I love balconies. I don't know what makes them so romantic, they just are. Favorites include Paris, Seville (on the square) and Hawaii. Nothing puts me to sleep faster than crashing waves on the shore.

Lara Dunston said...

I'm with you, travelmuse. I'm giving some thought to what makes them so romantic... I'm touching on it in my next blog... what I call the "stepping out" but it's so much more than that. I think what makes them most romantic is the idea of stepping out on a balcony with somebody behind you, an arm wrapped around you perhaps? Or maybe it's just the exoticism and newness of the surroundings as I've touched on in my next blog. I'm going to give this one a lot more thought. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

your last line was funny, as I thought about our last family vacation - we were offered a very nice room with a patio that looked straight down the strand at our favorite southern California beach. However, it was also on the noisiest side of the hotel, near the bars in Mission Beach. Definitely a trade off, but we decided to stick with the view and purchased some strong earplugs!

I could spend vacations taking pictures of doors and windows, as they seem to be fascinating views in and out of the place I am visiting.


Gudrun from Kango

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes! Earplugs. In Croatia a few years ago we stayed at a hotel that Lonely Planet said had A/C and wonderful views over a square. Well this author (who still inexplicably gets work with them) got it wrong. The views were awesome, but only the lobby had A/C (guess this was as far as the writer ventured). Cue the hottest summer on record. No problem. Just open the windows and listen to the soundtrack of drunks until dawn in the square. Swimming earplugs in our backpacks saved the day...