Venice Day Three

I awake about 7am and realize it’s overcast. Wait, it’s raining. Holy cow! It’s pouring. Then there’s the roar of thunder and the echo as the sound bounces off buildings in St. Mark’s Square. The strobe of the lightening is pretty against the Venetian landmarks. The storm reminds me of the tropical deluges I’ve experienced in Hawaii. It was raining that hard. But I’m cozy in bed.

I think the crappy weather will make it easier to leave Venice tonight. I linger in bed, check email and avoid packing.

Finally motivated, I begin packing. I rearrange my luggage so that the big suitcase is mostly dirty laundry and souvenirs while the smaller suitcase has my toiletries and fresh clothes. This should make changing on the train easier. After a great shower, I check out and the hotel agrees to store my luggage. The American couple from the restaurant the other night is also checking out. They have a train to Rome in 40 minutes and the clerk and I are alarmed as the boat to the train station from St. Mark’s Square takes about 40 minutes. Oh, well. I’m sure there’s frequent trains to Rome.

The rain has stopped and there’s no line at the Basilica di San Marco. I’m literally able to walk in while other days there had been a one-hour wait. Because of the Alta Acqua, you enter on a platform to avoid the flooded outer floor of the church. The interior is stunning — probably would be even more so with sunlight streaming through the windows. I’m angered by the people that take photographs including flash photography — both are prohibited in this sacred space. The ceiling artwork is amazing.

As I exit, I see that a line to get in has formed and is already about a 15-minute wait.

I have breakfast at Al Todaro in St. Mark’s Square facing the Grand Canal. Soon after I order, an older British couple sits down at a table nearby. Their bickering is endearing. I watch a drain back up so water is actually coming up out of it and flooding the sidewalk…I dub it the Undrain.

I’m guessing that the tide must be coming in so the water level is rising even more. The waiters are decked out in tuxedos and some of the waiters are trying to dry off the chairs by slamming the legs on the sidewalk to get the bulk of the water off and then wiping them down with a cloth. I see three overloaded UPS carts trying to make it through the tourists that are herding in the dry spots. There’s a Asian man burden with technology at a nearby table. Besides his Blackberry, he’s got an iPad and a laptop. All of us within earshot become burdened by technology when he uses Skype on his iPad to call Japan. The connection is horrid and he’s sitting there shouting into his iPad. Don’t they have a headset for the iPad? I give him my best American glare. He picks his nose. I decide it’s clear this man has no social graces.

One way you can tell locals from the tourists is by the high rubber boats that the tourists wear during high water. I recognize the captain from one of the delivery boats the other day. He and a crew of three are delivering three very large pieces of furniture on a cart. Quite a challenge made worse by the crowds.

There’s a guy bailing out his gondola — getting it ready for his first fare of the day.

I end breakfast with a frothy cappuccino.

I hop on the vaporetto and head towards the Jewish Ghetto. The nearest stop is San Marcuola. An ambulance boat goes by (yes, they have a siren and lights like ours) and the boat’s wake sends waves crashing even higher on the buildings along the Grand Canal. The water splashs as high as the windows. Someone placed a pallet on the sidewalk near the vaporetto stop so folks don’t have to get wet feet when they leave the stop. It begins to rain.

The Jewish Ghetto has a police shack in the square. Not sure why. Sobering displays talk about the Jews that were rounded up and sent to a concentration camp during the war.

Head to Chiesa della Madonna dell’Orto. It’s dedicated to travelers and I think a visit is fitting. Tintoretto, one of the Venitian masters, lived nearby and painted much of the interior. It is stunning. The artist and his family are buried in the corner chapel. 

See this boat sticking out of a building as if it had crashed through it.

I see one of the marinas.

The rain has stopped and the sky’s are clearing. Since it’s my last day, I decide to splurge and have a cocktail at one of the pricey cafes in San Marco. Caffee Lavena has a 5.70 Euro supplement to pay for the live music. I feel cheated as I only really get 5 songs from my band during the hour I linger at the table. The bands at the different cafes take turns performing so they aren’t competing . The Venetian cocktails are delicious. 

Make my way back to hotel, pick up my luggage and roll to the vaporetto stop. The wheels on my large suitcase are straining. Thank you United.

The vaporetto does take about 40 minutes to reach the train station.

I stand around waiting for the train’s track number to appear on the departure board. Grab some snacks including these yummy bread twists (Tarallucci) that I had enjoyed at the restaurant the other night and two bottles of water. Once the track number appears, I roll down there. It takes a moment to see where the train car number is displayed as I’m in a specific bed on a specific car (Bed 12 in Coach 92). I had reserved a first-class sleeping berth for the overnight train from Venice to Paris. I wasn’t expecting the Orient Express, but was hoping for the best. I find the car and heft my two bags up. It’s a ridiculously compact cabin and the beds are all set up. I learn from the conductor that my cabin mate will board in Milan. Next door is an older British couple and two doors down is a young loud couple who inquiries about smoking on the train. There is none so they hang on the platform to have a smoke. They have more luggage than I do.

I settle in to the cabin trying to find places for my coat and shoes that will be out of the way. I discover a wash basin in the cabin. The water is not for drinking. The toilet is down the hall. I venture in and my nose is immediately assaulted by the smell. There is no stopper or u-joint to prevent the odor from rising up from the holding tank. YUCK! The train takes off with a massive jerk — this is a theme that’s repeated at every stop. This is going to be an  interesting journey.

I decide to enjoy the dinner service at 8:30pm about an hour after departure. At a table for four, I’m joined by Dominico who lives half-time in Venice and half-time in Bologna. He’s quite quiet at first, but half way through his bottle of wine, he becomes chatty. He works at an art gallery in Venice and is a poet. He’s originally from Sicily but loves Venice.

The first course is penne in a bolognese sauce. The main course is a delicious chicken with mushrooms served with a tomato salad. Dessert is fresh fruit as I can’t have the chocolate cake. A sweet pear and fuzzy kiwi.

When I return to the cabin, I begin to nest. Trying to figure out what to do with the paper foot mat (conveniently identified by the footprints printed on it). As I stretch out on my bunk — thankfully the lower one — I download images from my camera as I had maxed out the memory card again today! The bed is kinda of comfortable and I’m sleepy.

We arrive in Milan and my cabin mate enters. A young African Italian who’s going to Paris on business. He’s purchased two bunks otherwise there would have been three of us squeezed into this closet of a cabin. I poop in my ear plugs about 11:30pm and quickly fall asleep.

The thin duvet is surprisingly warm. I slept fairly well.


2 Responses to “Venice Day Three”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    Love reading about these adventures!

    • hjhdownunder Says:

      I’m already itching for my next adventure abroad. Hoping the just-released Travel Advisory drives down International airfares so I can snatch up a cheap flight just after Christmas.

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