Venice – Day 1

Published April 21, 2013 by Christa Maurice

The first day I went on a circuit of the neighborhood, mostly because I realized I had forgotten to pack contact solution and needed a pharmacy. I found one imaginatively named Acqua & Sapone where I was unable to find what I needed on my own. Silly me, I should have known contact solution would be on the bottom shelf under the condoms and across from baby bottles. I did find a lovely restaurant where the very nice man taught me Italian for take out (porta via) and made me a calzone.

The next morning I woke up to rain. I thought ‘yay! Rain!’ Shows you how dumb I am. After breakfast, which I got to as the poor breakfast guy was trying to rebuild after it was demolished by outgoing Chinese tourists, I got instructions on how to get to Venice. I had to go to the block behind the hotel where the restaurant was and buy a ticket from the tobacconist. There were one, two, three and five day options. I’m here for four days. Perfect. I bought a three day ticket, hopped on the very crowded bus and headed into rainy Venice.

Now, on top of the water coming from the sky, high tide means that the water in the canal comes up over the sidewalk and if you aren’t paying attention, you will walk into a cold puddle. When I was reading up in it, one of the sites mentioned that rubber boots were a good idea. No really, rubber boots. You can tell the locals because they’re the ones in the knee high rubber boots. So I’m soaked from all sides, but jeez, this is Venice and I need to find a camera store because my camera battery was dead. (Did I mention that? Dead. Like the last time I used it I forgot to turn it off dead. And I’m in Venice.) So I’m wandering around drenched, looking for a camera store and I realize that, as there are buses on land, there are public transportation boats in Venice. I further realize that this card I bought to get into Venice works on the vapratto too! In Venice, the only way to get around is by boat or on foot, wet sodden foot. So I try to determine how this works, give up and sit down to wait hoping all will be revealed. As I’m waiting these two Chinese girls come over to ask me a question. I tell them I don’t know anything, but they don’t realize thata ima nota talkin ina Italiana accent. When I explain that I am a tourist also, they ask someone else who can tell them what they need to know and I go with them.

Cute girls. They had one day in Venice before they went on to another city and they were studying in England. What a group we made. The American teaching in Abu Dhabi and the Chinese girls studying in England looking for San Marcos Square in Venice in the rain. It took us about 45 minutes to find the place and we were freezing. Also, I was seasick. The sea between the islands is just alarmingly wide and the water was rough.The square had flooded in low tide so there were platforms set up as pathways. I parted company with the girls there because I spotted a camera shop where I found a universal charger. Woohoo!

After that I wandered around for a while just gazing. People kept stopping me to ask me questions. I know not why. I look about as Italian as Serena Williams. But I answered as best I could. Then I decided to look for a vaporatto landing to head back to the hotel. I should have known when I couldn’t manage to get to one that there were rough times ahead. I could see them, but there always seemed to be some combination of water and masonry in the way.

I managed and after a very long and packed ride I got back to the bus station. (Also terrifying. When I say the boat was packed, I mean to the gills. All I could think was we were going to sink and could I swim in thirty pounds of fake fur coat, blue jeans and sneakers?) At that point I realized I had no clue what bus I needed to get back to the hotel and there are no maps. Gah. So I read signs and spotted Mestre, the town I am staying in. On that bus I asked the driver if it went to Mestre. He reacted as if I had asked if the bus went on the road. Of course. That probably should have been a clue. I dismissed my initial bad feelings because I really couldn’t see on the way out. Eventually, I couldn’t dismiss anymore and I realized the hotel clerk had given me a card with a map of where the hotel is on it. I pulled that out the card and asked the woman across from me if I was on the right bus. After several minutes of hemming and hawing the answer boiled down to “this bus no.” She couldn’t tell me any more so I hopped off and began polling perfect strangers as to what to do. Twice I got sets of directions and set off. Both sets were correct, but I was about five miles off course at that point, as well as soaked and with my shoes eating into my heels. In desperation I got on the first bus I saw and asked the driver if he went anywhere near where I needed to be. Of course not, but he was very kind and spoke good enough English to put me off at a stop where I was to catch either the nine or the fifteen and they would take me where I needed to go. The fifteen happened to be the first one by, but I wasn’t taking any chances and showed the driver my card. He let me stand up front with him and counted down the stops until we got to the one nearest my hotel from which I could see the sign. A twenty minute trip into town took me an hour and a half to get back.

I was so tired and cold that I curled up on the bed planning to go to the restaurant around the corner for dinner later. Never happened. Before crawling into bed, I had the foresight to hang my clothes on the towel warmer and open my umbrella in the shower. After an hour and a half resting, I took the dry stuff down and arranged my shoes so they could dry. I also fiddled with the charger and then fell asleep for three hours. When I woke up it was bed time, my shoes were dry and my camera battery was charged. So it wasn’t a total loss. But no supper!

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