On Sunday I learned that Venice is a two day trip, tops. This being my third day and being sunny, I counted my remaining cash, found I was still in very good shape for walking around money. Before I left Mestre i thought I’d be clever and buy a Coke in the grocery store as they are over a euro more in Venice, but forgetting that it’s Sunday and the store would be closed. Clever, but not as clever as I’d hoped. In Venice, i decided to ride a vaporatto for its entire run. Not as much fun as it sounds. Instead of circling, which I had assumed, it goes to one end of the route (in this case San Marco Square), turns around and goes to the other end of its run (a different stop near San Marco Square.) It took an hour from end to end. San Marco Square was positively packed with people. I had been under the impression that it was busy before. Wrong. The flags were flying in front of the church. Huge ten foot by twelve foot at least flags. There were costumed drummers. There was some kind of promotion going on, but I couldn’t sort out what was going on and, as usual, I was headed upstream. After leaving the Square, I walked around trying to avoid ending up at the Rialto. I was successful, but it was close.
Within three hours, and remember there was an hour on a boat, I was walking around trying to decided if I had actually been all over the island or if it was just starting to look the same. The previous day I had come up with a master plan to eat spaghetti Bolognese at a particular restaurant very close to the Ferrovia (accent on Ferro because it is the train station) vaporatto stop. The restaurant I wanted was jammed, so I walked along the road, this being the Times Square of Venice, there would be another. I found one that didn’t look crowded and when I walked inside I discovered why. No the food was not terrible, but the narrow opening lead to a giant, and from the sound of things, Chuckie Cheese type restaurant. I sat up front and got my spaghetti. I think it’s illegal to not have spaghetti as some point while in Italy and I don’t want to be stopped at the border. It wasn’t what I had hoped for, very oily and no bite, but it was tasty and more important the place mats were maps of venice giving me the opportunity to discover that I had missed and entire, large, section of the city.
Post lunch, I set off in the direction on the undiscovered country. Suddenly, the streets opened up to be streets. Not quite two lanes wide, but not so cramped that you felt like you had to ask passersby if they had been tested and had protection. There were also more street performers. Previously I had seen a lot of beggars, but no street performers. I have a rule about beggar and street performers. I don’t give money to people who aren’t making an effort to earn it. Seriously, if the little old lady in the babushka outside the cathedral had a sign that said she would pray for my soul in exchange for a donation, I would have gone for it, but just holding out a cup? I took a short video of the two guys playing guitar and gave them some money. Opera guy was cleaning up. The jazz quartet was doing okay, but they have to split it four ways. The Charlie Chaplin mime was doing terribly and when I passes his way again he had packed it in, hopefully for greener pastures and not because the gangs of roving purse sellers had chased him off. Need a purse? Need sunglasses? Need a ball of goo that will reform itself into a gold pig after you splat it against something? You can get all that stuff easily and I would buy from street vendors, but I have a purse and sunglasses and no need for splaty gold pigs. I happened to walk past a purse dealer who was involved in negotiation with a little girl as her mother looked on. The dealer was having a ball trying to talk this girl into letting her mother buy a purse but the little girl kept saying that her mother couldn’t have another purse because Daddy said no more.
Also during my afternoon roving I discovered a grocery store. I had come across butchers and fruit and vegetable vendors, but no basic grocery stores. When traveling in other countries, one of the things I like to look at are the grocery stores. Oddly the German girl I met on the plane said she also liked to look at grocery stores. She mentioned being amazed that in Canada they sold eggs by the dozen. In Germany she said you can only get them by the half dozen. She was fascinated by the fact that you could get eggs in the UAE in flats of 30. In Italy eggs are available in dozens. If I could have gotten half that stuff back to the UAE, I would have needed to buy a new suitcase.
After the grocery store, I decided it was time to head back to the hotel. This always requires an hour or so of finding a vaporatto stop and I was still trying to avoid the Rialto bridge which of course meant I ended up in San Marco Square. As I passed I noticed that the line to get into the cathedral wasn’t long so I hopped in it and was disappointed. In Notre Dame you went into the church, all the way into the church. In San Marco you walked through the foyer and into their gift shop. If I had waited in line for that I’d have been peeved. As I passed outside, I noticed that they had closed up so maybe I just got unlucky.
On the vaporatto to the bus station I got stuck in the middle of a group of obnoxious Germans. Maybe I’m just unlucky that way too. This group couldn’t understand that no standing in front of the driver meant them too. They kept standing up to take pictures, once nearly causing an accident. I was so distracted by their antics that I nearly failed to take in how empty the canal was. Every other time I had been on the Grand Canal there had been so many vaporattos, water taxis, gondolas and personal boats that one could almost hop across, but at this point in the day it was so quiet that I could see water. In one stretch there was only one other boat and it was a vaporatto (headed directly for us. I don’t know how they manage to not have dozens of accidents a week.)
The bus route, as if sensing that I may have gotten my bearing finally, threw me one more curve ball. The bus wasn’t there when I got to the correct lane so I waited for ages in the cold with several other people. When the bus finally arrived it wasn’t the full route. It was the limited route. There I was hoping I could get on the bus without having to pull out my hotel postcard and show it to the driver and I had to anyway.
On the upside I did get the show to stop coming out in one stream. On the downside, apparently its interpretation of “shower” is a circle of water that a person can easily stand in the center of without getting wet. I may have been better off with the broken version, but since I don’t know how I fixed it, I don’t know how to break it again.