Ah, Venice. Our stay with you was short but such a sweet and noble disaster it was! And such entertainment you will provide my loyal reader!

Before I go into details, I should mention that this was my first ever trip to a country where English was not the primary language (excluding a couple of border towns in Mexico where, let's face it, no language is necessary). And I have to say it's freakin' EMBARRASSING speaking only one language there when even the rats squeak in at least three.

The first problem we ran into was the rather draconian rules imposed by hotels in the area. It seems they all expect you to have what they call a "reservation" when you go there. And they act all surprised when you tell them you swore you made one but upon looking through your e-mails, you realize that you didn't quite confirm it.

But no matter. I was able to effectively use my mastery of languages to express our wishes at the Quattro Fontane ("Garcon! L'accommodatione, por favor! Chop chop!"). Luckily, they were able to house us. Even more luckily, it is a very nice hotel and close to a couple of pretty cool beaches, even if it doesn't get many points for being all that convenient.

Second issue: Venice contains at least one thief with a penchant for cell phones. Which is a fairly big deal but easy to remedy. When you speak the local language. Alas, the pay phones (and corresponding instructions) in Italy are, in fact, in Italian. After several unsuccessful attempts to insert a credit card and make a call home to someone who can help us, we eventually found a phone with a toll-free number next to an American and Canadian flag and we were able to make calls on our credit card to North America.

Which, apparently, the Bahamas is not part of. Even though it uses the same country code. We did manage to get hold of a family member in Calgary. Alas, Rogers will not allow just anyone to cancel your service. You have to phone and do it yourself. So, of course, said family member called pretending to be the missus, cleverly subverting their security system ("What's my birthdate? Oh gosh, I'm not actually the real customer so I guess I don't really know now, do I?").

Unfortunately, Rogers uses a secondary security system which is more effective. Namely, incompetence. Said family member got cut off before she could successfully complete her operation. But she was able to ascertain that Rogers had a 1.800 number that works "anywhere in the world". Except from Italian payphones calling a toll-free number to connect to North America. I spoke with a very pleasant gentleman who informed me that he was unable to connect me to toll-free numbers from his system, only numbers with a valid Canadian area code.

By that time, we had figured out how to successfully use the credit card in the pay phone and were able to call the Rogers 1.800 number directly, if not toll-freely. I can't stand voice recognition systems. You know the ones. They tell you in a semi-human voice, "I'm sorry, I didn't quite get that" when you scream "SWEET ZOMBIE JESUS, GET A REAL PERSON ON THE &*%$# LINE NOW OR I SWEAR I WILL STAND HERE AND SCREAM AT YOU SOME MORE TO THE AMUSEMENT OF PASSERS-BY!"

Seriously, there is no "press 0 for an operator" option in Rogers' system. When you do, they still want more information. So after entering 454.558.3323 as the phone number to be cancelled (translation: I KILL U DEAD), we finally got hold of someone who was almost able to understand our request before putting us on hold for approximately three minutes, give or take an hour. During that time, someone took mercy on us and simply disconnected the call so we left it at that, relying on the fact that the call would be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes so they had a formal record of our intent, even if they didn't quite grasp it.

Total time spent in Venice: 18 hours. But the memories will last a lifetime. Whether I want them to or not.