Sunday, June 19, 2011
Lost in Venice 1st Post of Travels in Italy
The last time I stepped foot into a country where English wasn't the first language, I was a teenager and backpacking through Europe. My cousin and I, with birthdays only a day apart, traveled for a few months on a budget of $10 a day. I needn't say how long ago that was, but let's just say I was younger than my youngest child. So the memory has receded far into the back of my mind. I know I talked myself into "falling in love" with a Scottish fellow who I met in Spain. I think I loved the notion of being in love more than the actuality of it. But nevertheless, fortunately for me, I once again crossed the ocean and this time landed in Italy. In Venice to be precise.
Everyone told me I would find Venice to be the most enchanting city in the world. And that I would love getting lost in the tiny three-foot wide, cobblestone paths, winding up and around and across tiny bridges and so on. And eventually I did get to that place of wandering around aimlessly and loving the enchantment of it. But initially! Initially, after not sleeping all night long and arriving half dazed and confused, I almost had an anxiety attack. First, we found a bus to take us from the airport to the city of Venice. Once we arrived, we took a water taxi to our hotel, because the google map literally had four pages of arrows turning every which way. (Hard to believe that Google map even attempts to give directions in Venice). So we took the water taxi never thinking for a moment that the 10 or 15 minute ride would sing to the tune of 60 Euro. For only 20 Euro more, we could have taken a gondola ride with a opera singer serenading us! However, after I got over the shock of the 60 Euro, we began to make our way to our hotel. The directions from the water taxi fellow were about as helpful as a frog in a teacup. We walked. And we walked. And the streets were jammed with people. And I was terrified to approach people with my very pathetic attempt at Italian (I got less nervous as time went on.) We dragged our luggage in circles for two hours, asking this person and that person. But no one had heard of the hotel and when I showed them the google directions, that just caused people to shake their heads knowingly. And then, bless this woman's heart, I stepped into one of the many, many tiny shops selling masks. And I asked the woman if she had heard of the hotel. She informed me that I was close, but everyone had informed me in much the same manner. It was always 'just over there', but 'there' was as allusive as a misty midnight drive on a country road. However, this shop keeper was my last hope. She said I needed to follow the 'road' (really a 3 foot wide path) until it ended. Then I was to step under an arch and there I would find the hotel I was looking for. I left the shop and walked in the opposite direction because my husband was waiting for me at a designated spot and she actually called after me "No, no! Wrong direction!" And I answered "My husband is this way." She smiled and all was well. We found our hotel and I loved the tiny room we were given. When I looked out the window, the building opposite to me had laundry strung between windows and I could hear a baby crying. I always relax when I hear a baby cry. We had many amazing days in Venice. And each day, I will post another few drawings from our travels.