Sunday, June 14, 2015

Day 18: Hello Venice

The weather wasn't cooperating. When I got off my train stop, I could see the wet ground. As I walked the mere 500 meters to my hotel, I was drenched buy the rain. 

I worried about my cough, one was so deep and convulsing that I thought I'd end up with pneumonia. I was getting convinced Italy didn't like me.

I read the directions correctly but, there was a little bit of a translation issue and I walked a block too far than I needed. But just as I stopped to look at directions one last time, I tried to turn on google maps, but it too wasn't working. So I kept walking to where I thought the hotel might be and there it was.

Somehow I was developing a sense of where I was and I would surprise myself at how close I was. Just as I was about to turn around and repeat my steps, just keep going forward and I would find myself where I needed to be.

When I got out of Venice central train station Santa Lucia, I had a map in my pocket but I didn't use it. I had two destinations, Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco. So I figured I should just head that way, I had a general area of where it would be, so I started walking.

There was a crowd so I just followed them until I got to one of the little bridges over a side canal. Then all of a sudden the crowd thinned and I was lost. I looked at the map, but none of what the signs said on the buildings matched with anything in the map!

Next thing I know, I'm wandering another city with tight, tiny, desolate streets. How do I do that? I walked into a side street that ended up a dead end into the Grand Canal!

But rather than panic, I just kept on walking until I found myself in a large piazza and I saw a sign that indicates which direction to go for "Por Rialto" or "Por San Marco" after that little side trip, I found my way to the Rialto Bridge, but it was under construction!

At one point I wandered into a piazza with a church and I realized that it was Sunday, there was no mass but people could come in, no photos. I stepped inside, prayed a bit, kneeled a bit and lit a candle for my mom.

So instead of climbing up the steep steps, I turned down into the banks of the Grand Canal and looked for a place to eat.

One waiter told me that there was a requirement that at least two people would be seated by the water. He was pretty arrogant about it too, so since he wouldn't accommodate me, I said good bye.

I walked a few more steps, as restaurants were back to back lined up along the water with outside seats. I looked at a menu and an Indian man came up and asked if I wanted "pasta? Pizza"

I asked if I could sit at the table, and he asked if it were just for one, and when I said yes, he said absolutely! He let me pick the table and I was glad that I stick to my guns so I could sit with a river side table.

I ate pizza, I'm really not a pasta fan. And the pizza was less than at Rome and really good. Again he showed me my knife and fork but what's the point? It's a pizza.

I orders sparkling water and tiramisu for dessert, expecting another expensive lunch. It came out to €17.30! I was so happy and my waiter enjoyed the €2 tip!

Having girded myself with a full stomach, I took to climbing the stairs of the Rialto bridge. It was covered up with plywood. But there were still stores up there selling anything from glass bead bracelets to cheap versions of the Venetian masks.

It was much easier to find San Marco, after the Rialto, it seemed like everyone was headed there. With all the differing streets and the many labyrinthine turns, I was completely taken aback when I finally emerged from a tiny street. There is a big white marble building right in front of me and with the claustrophobic streets, the amount of open space at the San Marco was breathtaking!

The buildings had columns that stood like military sentinels set to watch over the square. That's why some of my walk was missing tourists, they were all here at the San Marco Piazza!

The weather which had started to let up on the rain had come out, so since I had already met my destinations for the day, I thought I would continue walking along the water front. Here was where the big hotels had their own water taxi services for their guests.

But as I strolled along the streets, I could see that the clouds were returning and would start raining again. So since I was barely controlling my coughing fits, I thought I'd head back.

I had checked into taking a gondola ride, but €80 for a 30min ride didn't seem economically feasible. I thought about taking one of the water taxis, but the line to buy a ticket was too long and I decided to walk back and at the Rialto bridge, I'd hoe on a water taxi. 

It was starting to rain by the time I got to the bridge, so I started to walk faster and forgot about the water taxi. There was nothing else for me to do so I kept walking back to Piazza di Roma, where the train station was.

Oddly as I retraced my steps I found that I didn't remember the streets but the retail stores that lined their way, recognizing them told me I had come that way before.

It wasn't that I was really lost today, it was more that despite the unfamiliar surroundings, I managed to find my way, despite myself.

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