Monday, September 27, 2010

"Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice, there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors." - Henry James

. . . . except me of course, Henry James, except me! I'm getting ahead of myself because Venice is only half the story, getting there was an adventure - - -

It all starts with . . . .

. . . . this brave damsel

and these boots a made for walkin'! (technically shoes)

Here comes my train!!!

Ummm, well - I guess that was the express because it almost blew my camera out of my hands and funny, it didn't stop . . .
However, here is where it gets interesting - I'm talking an all day Saturday viewing of a Lifetime thriller, kind of interesting. I was going to have to transfer on two different trains, hit Venzia first and then Padova to make it to Venice. Well, I made it to Venezia, then all he$% broke loose! The Italian train system needs a makeover, they need more than just a paper departure map and angry ticket sellers to get people to where they are going - - - - lucky for me, however, there were some very kind locals who were happy to help a confused foreigner out. I was directed to Platform 2 and was happy to see that there were others on their way to the water city and I settled in (shouldn't have gotten so comfortable). I started writing in my journal until some boisterous Americans began to consult the departure map and I began to think maybe I wasn't that safe. They seemed to have the same ticket as me but they kept saying that the time was a lot sooner than I had been told. When I say sooner, I mean like two seconds after I doubted them a train showed up that said Santa Lucia Venezia on the side and they were getting on - - - - and so was I. I knew I had made a mistake as soon as I got on but by that time the train was moving. I was standing in a dining car and the Americans that I had followed had suddenly disappeared. I asked the bartender about Venice and he told me we still had one hour - ummm, it was suppose to take me an hour and a half, definitely the wrong train. Celeste had told me that if tickets aren't validated and you are on the wrong train a 100$ fine was often what happened. I began to think I had to move so off I went through cars, they turned out to be sleeper cars with a small little passage way and way too many people standing in the way. "Scusi," became all I said as I feared that around the next corner I would be asked for my ticket. There were NO seats, only sleeper compartments and odd stares in my direction as I peered into those compartments. I was getting dizzy and all the more nervous so I looked into one of the compartments and saw two men and an empty seat, I gulped and pointed at the seat and shrugged (code for asking if I could sit there), the recently roused Englishman looked up and nodded. I sat and got a "Hallo!" from the Frenchman, I "Hallo-ed" back and tried to disappear. Old Frenchie looked annoyed and more so when his wife showed up and I could tell asked him why this girl was sitting in a place that they had recently slept in. I tried to not make eye contact while my mind went wild with stories of the Frenchman calling "stowaway!" and me being thrown into dungeons. When he got up and started out of the compartment I knew my days on the lamb had come to an end, I got up and ran off in the opposite direction. I ran, looking into compartments as I went and knowing I would never make a good spy - finally an empty compartment and in I flew - blinds down and praying I knew when we stopped in Venice. After twenty minutes I knew I was getting close and so I made my way out of the compartment and in the direction I had come - I saw a train attendant and froze, "Bonjourno, Venzia?"
"10 minutes!" he called out and I was home free . . . until I saw the Frenchman. I could have sworn he was gonna rat me out and if I would have been starring alongside Matt Damon that probably would have happened but since I wasn't, it didn't - we landed in Venice and I almost kissed the ground for joy!

Yeah - that ground. This is what you see when exiting the train station - water and hundreds of people.

Right next to the station is one of the oldest of the 30 something churches that call Venice home . . .

. . . don't get why the arm is broken off but maybe it's because it's been there since 425 AD and there must have been some wear and tear during that time.

What Venice really seemed to be was a mecca for selling you anything that could constitute a souvenir - favorites being masks and glass, what they are often famous for.

Oh yeah - and some wonderful pastries!

View from one of the many, MANY bridges

Again - proof I was there and not in Wisconsin!

It's crazy to think you are walking on a city built on water - I was in awe all day.

The bells from one of the churches that was hosting this event - - - -

- - a wedding! How cool is that?! I stood off to the side of the door and reached my camera in to take the picture and that is why it is blurry - didn't want to be the annoying tourist they would see in their pictures forever, dad walking daughter down the aisle and Mia in the background . . .

Still couldn't get over houses on water!

The day was starting to clear up and the fun was just beginning.
One of the many beautiful museums -

By that time I was getting hungry and decided to dine at this posh, modern restaurant - -

yeah you guessed it - I was having it my way. McDonalds is the place to be in Europe but way too expensive, a value meal was the equivalent of ten dollars!

After that it was time to wander through some more of the Venetian streets with vendors on every inch of that island.

I wonder what it is like to in that very building, to have that very view?

Okay, there it is - the gondola shot - sooooo cool!

DO you know that it Italy you cannot gather your own produce, you tell the vendors what they want and they get it for you - - - don't even think about touching that fruit . . .
. . . . or that fresh fruit- yummy, no?

Another church - this one belongs to the Madonna -

such beautiful churches -

with paintings every where!

How can such a beautiful city house such historic churches but also try and sell you a wooden motorcycle with a pinochio at the wheel - priceless.
Here is where the day gets hot and crowded - this is the view off of the most famous bridge that actually has stores throughout (Chards: think the Ligori's painting, I finally have proof that what I had rallied against is real - there are stores on the bridge!)

see? Stores -

- and ridiculous amounts of people

yet, more people

and water - - - -
and then even more people!!!

Along a passageway to a -

- courtyard. Beautiful right? It had rained so much the previous day that the city was starting to flood.
When that happens, kids will always be kids, playing in the water.

Even a crazy local or two will sit out among the water to get away from all those people:)

But - I think that the real Venice is to be found in the side streets, where you come to know that there are normal people that live there, normal people who do their laundry . . .

That was the end of my day because I still had miles to go and trains to catch!

Trains that made me make this face -

- and that luckily for me, was a place finally free of people - they were still out enjoying the fun:)

And I, well I - was glad it was done and happy for what I had seen -

but also . . . . had never been happier to see this gate!


The Cragun's said...

So jealous!

Rosie said...

So, so proud of you for being so brave! Wow-Venice! Keep up the pictures for those of us doing the carpool!

Love you!

Doug said...

What a trip!!!! But I know the rest of the story, I'll wait for that in your up-coming travel guide "How Rick Steves and I see Europe" or "Murder on the Venice Express".

Becky said...

Love the commentary! What a gal you are to tackle Italy on your own! I want to know if you got pictures of all the bird mess - that's what my mom and dad remember from Venice!

Misty said...