I was awoken by a knock on the door. I rubbed my eyes, struggling to open them for a couple of seconds. The curtains were wide open and in showered all the light. I was reminded that this wasn't a dream, and I took a moment to smile at the sight of the trees, bright blue sky and clear waters outside. I heard the shuffling of paper underneath my door, as I poked my head up to see a white piece of paper.
Interested, I slid out of bed and wobbled over; my legs not fully awake yet. I knelt down grabbing what was actually an envelope; it had the hotel's emblem on it. Recognizing it belonged to the stationary pack found in the rooms. In a man's distinct handwriting it read:
Good morning, I hope you slept well. I wasn't sure of your plans, but if you would like to join me for breakfast I will be at the pier.
"That sounds like a lovely idea." I presumed.
I scanned my dresses that I hung up last night. I decided on my short, tiered A-line lavender dress with my black beaded bracelet and well…my only pair of sandals. As for a necklace, I would wear non-other than my professional Canon camera; expecting to have my index finger glued to the shutter all day.
I had a small thin purse with a thread like strap, to stash my money, ID and cellphone in. I swung that over and within minutes I made my way down to the Cip's Club Restaurant, but began my photo documentary just moments after stepping out of my room.
I walked out on the wooden terrace, glancing over the people sitting beneath the cream canopies. I spotted Servantes in the very corner, the sunlight reflected off the table and his sleeveless white hooded shirt. His hair was wet and combed back, with a couple of tresses falling on the side of his face. There was a perfect view of Central Venice, just across the lagoon.
I surprised him as I stood before the table. He smiled and jumped up as he tried to pull out my seat.
"Oh you don't have to do that." I insisted.
"So I take it you slept well?"
"I did thank you."
I placed my camera carefully on the table, where I saw a plate of what looked like little bread bowls and assorted cookies.
"I ordered you a Cappuccino as well, I hope you don't mind...Now this you must try." He offered.
"The bread bowl?"
"Oh no no. A brioche…It is more of a pastry then just regular bread. See it's made with extra butter, eggs and sweetened."
I shrugged my shoulders as I pulled off a piece to taste. It was very light and fluffy with a sweet aftertaste.
"Yum, do you eat it plain?" I asked.
"You can," he answered while the waiter brought us our coffee drinks.
"So what is the plan for today?"
I watched as he rubbed his hands together ready to reveal our schedule. He went through the list of places we could go to all in one day. We did have to make the train by 6 this evening. And it was already 8:30 am. I was set to walk my sandals off; I could rest later on the train.
While he showed me the stops we would make on his map, the manager was so kind to stop by our table and see how we were doing. He spoke to Servantes a little bit in Italian and then asked how I was enjoying my stay. Now what I found odd was that he came straight to our table and left; he didn't ask any other table.
On our quest, I took pictures of bridges, narrow alleys and canals. We arrived at Campo Santa Maria Formos, the house known to belong to Marco Polo. I photographed the famous well-head and continued my collection of shots on all the architectural buildings and houses. It was phenomenal.
On occasions, Servantes would take the camera from me to hand to a passing stranger to get a picture of us both. But more often I kept seeing locals call out his name and greet him as if he were family. Everyone he talked to was in good spirits and laughing with him. Was there something I was missing here?
Finally we were back in another gondola, this time floating down the Grand Canal. I was much impressed by Servantes knowledge on the history of the churches and palaces. This wasn't even included in my package deal! I loved taking pictures of the gondolas that would stream on by, the colorful house structures and busy sidewalks.
By late afternoon, we ended our tour with the St. Mark's Basilica, a ginormous byzantine cathedral. While I snapped shots of the church in different angles, Servantes excused himself to talk on the phone. After I felt satisfied with the amount of images I had captured, I proceeded to look for him.
In my unsuccessful search I began to worry, until I saw him surrounded by a little huddle of ten or so people. I saw them there before but was too focused on looking for a single blonde haired male.
"What's going on here?" I was puzzled.
He hasn't been completely honest in whom he really was; my suspicions were driving me crazy, but I still didn't want to enquire about. What if he didn't feel comfortable about sharing whatever it was that he was keeping secret. By the looks of it and his popularity I'm thinking he's someone pretty important. I stole a quick picture and pretended to not see him.
About ten minutes later he joined me and acted as if nothing.
"So I called my friend Hugo, and he arranged for our table at Antico Martini. It's a very traditional Italian cuisine restaurant back at St. Mark's Square. So what do you say? Are you ready to eat?"
"Yes I'm starved!" I exaggerated.
We would have just about enough time to eat and take the ferry back to the hotel to pack and leave for our train. The thought saddened me; I could have spent the next 5 days here happily. However when I imagined the beauty that awaited me, especially Paris; I refused to frown.
At the restaurant, Servantes introduced me to his handsome friend Hugo. He recommended us the finest bottle of wine and said it was on the house. Because I had no clue of what to order, I told Servantes that I trusted his selection. Truth was, I couldn't read the menu and an Italian meal for me consisted of a can of Chef Boyardee.
While seated in the rustic terrace, I was nibbling on our hor dourves, when more people began to recognize him. This one older man came to the table with his wife and asked a waiter to take a picture of them. When they left, happy as can be; then he turned to see me give a narrow stare.
"Ok, what are you not telling me? Are you like the Governor's son or something?" I demanded.
"Eh… no not the Governor's son," he smiled nervously. "I'm sorry. I didn't want to tell you because I just wanted to enjoy these couple of days with a beautiful woman who didn't know who I was."
"I do a little acting…" He admitted bashfully.
"A little? C'mon tell me, it won't change a thing I promise. Stop being modest."
"I went to New York to further my acting career, and with the right alignment of auditions, fate took its course. Before New York I had done a couple of films here with some of our local Italian directors and producers. It all started when I had done some minor modeling and got picked for a small part in a soap opera. That was when I was a young teenager."
"My gosh… How long were you on that show?"
"Wow, umm… 10 years almost."
My eyes widened. All this time I had been walking around with an Italian celebrity. That explained his hidden face as he boarded the train and all the attention and laughter he constantly drew.
"I hope you are not disappointed with me?" He continued.
"No, of course not! Why would I be? I completely understand. Like I said, it doesn't change a thing." I smiled in reassurance.
He sighed of relief and we carried on with our dinner and conversation. Nonetheless, I was intrigued about his now known secret that everyone but me knew about; convincing him to share some stories about the films and travel experiences.
On our boat ride back I interrupted the peaceful silence.
"I must say that the way the people here treat you, as a celebrity, is completely different then in the USA."
"Well, fans are different, not as calm. Here they approach you as if they really knew you." I commented.
"It is kind of that way; they basically saw me grow up on TV. I love my people." He announced.
"Yup and they clearly love you too."
In the next hour, I gathered my things and said goodbye to my waterfront room. I would miss it, but it was time to move on to the next fascinating location. What I wasn't too thrilled about was the prolonged hours of almost a full day's travel. Yet I knew the sights we would pass through would make up for that; and besides my company kept getting more and more interesting.