|A bridge near the Rialto area|
is madness in itself, but to build there one of
the most elegant and grandest of cities is
~ Alexander Herzen
What about Venice makes it one of those cities that people—even those who have never been there—absolutely love? The bridges? The canals? The gondolas? The gondoliers? The masks? Is it an elegant dream that we all have?
Truth be told, I have a number of friends who have been there and actually do *not* like Venice. "One day was enough for me," one told me recently. Another couple told me they spent three days there, and they'll never go back.
Some years ago, Mike and I spent three days there, and I'll admit that it was not our favorite city. In considering whether to go yesterday or not, I tried to remember exactly what it was in particular that we didn't like. I remembered all too quickly once I got there.
But, let me start at the beginning.
Apparently everyone going to Venice from Bologna yesterday had the same idea as the train was full. I arrived early to get a seat, and over 30 minutes, I watched as the train filled with more and more people bound for Venezia.
(Side note: The regional trains in Italy do not assign seats, so if you want to sit, you have to arrive early enough to grab a seat. Even though they don't recline, the seats are comfortable. The biggest drawback is that, except for the first row, the seats in Italian trains are grouped in fours on both sides of the aisle—two facing forward and two facing back. On one side of the train, the first row has only three seats.)
I chose to sit in the first row that had three seats. I was watching people running down the platform when a group of six plunged through the swinging plexiglass doors in front of me. A woman and two men threw their luggage on the seats across from me, and another woman and man tossed theirs on the seat in front of and next to me. They never said a word to me, even when the man knocked me with his over-size backpack as he moved it so he could sit. Tourists.
|Another Venetian canal|
The only thing that bothered me about that situation was that a nun got on in Padova (Padua), and while there were a lot of young kids in seats in our car, not one offered her—nor did their parents make them offer her—a place to sit.
Early in the trip, the man next to me decided to stretch his arms above his head just as I turned mine toward him. The skunk that once built a nest under our Nashville furnace had a little competition. Unfortunately, the man must have been pretty tired as he had to stretch quite often. Worse, he must have also had a bit of an allergic reaction to something because he sneezed a lot. Had he covered his mouth, I might not have cringed as much.
The two hours seemed a lot longer.
|Near the Accademia|
|St. Mark's from the water|
(Side note; There are 118 islands connected by over 400 bridges that make up the city. Because the island were not strong enough to support the structures, underneath all of them are millions of piles of wood that hold Venice up. The city also has almost 200 canals and about 125 piazzas. The alleys not on the canals and away from piazzas tend to be narrow, dark, and in many cases, dirty. Graffiti, a pock on the face of almost every city in the world, covers a lot of the walls.)
|A small alley|
As we waited to board the boat to Burano, a girl standing a little to my left let out a sneeze that would give a 200-pound man a run for his money. She, of course, did not cover her mouth and sprayed just about everyone in the general vicinity of Venice. She laughed and said something. I have no idea what it was because she spoke some language I'll never learn. Most of us glared at her, and she continued to laugh until they opened the doors to the bus. At that point, she pushed past most people to get her place on the deck.
|A little piazza|
To make a long story short, the "leetilla" water bus ride to Burano ended up taking 70 minutes, and that's not counting the time I spent getting to St. Mark's. It was, though, a beautiful day to spend on the water. There were hundreds of speedboats and fewer sailboats out. Being on water that long usually makes me a little ill, but I actually was fine.
I'll tell you about Burano tomorrow, but I want to go back to my time in Venice later in the afternoon. When I got back, I headed to where I remembered our apartment was. I walked through a number of narrow alleys and got lost, but came upon a small bridge that looked familiar. (below)
|The canal near our apartment|