Sunday, November 8, 2015

You Big Poopy Head (Venice Strike #3)

Grand Canal

"On the morning of our second day, we were strolling down the Champs-Elysées when a bird sh*t on his head. ‘Did you know a bird’s sh*t on your head?’ I asked a block or two later..." ~ Bill Bryson

Oh, why should I even beat around the bush? You can probably tell from the title and quote that a pigeon crowned one of us on our second day in Venice.  Let me gently guide you to "the incident."

When last I left you, I was sicker than anything and quite sure I wasn't going to make it to Venice the second day.  We had stopped at the pharmacy in the train station on our way home, and the pharmacist gave me something that really helped.  (I'll tell that story some other time.)

At any rate, I woke up felling a lot better the next morning and headed to Venice. The fact that the sun was shining probably helped, as did the fact that there were no screaming kids on the train.  We arrived unscathed and immediately headed for a gondola ride, something I'd never experienced.  Suffice to say I was not sure I could handle it, but I didn't have to lean over the side, so all was good.  That out of the way, we caught the vaporetto and headed to Murano, a 30-minute boat ride.

The gondola
Our gondolier

Venice, as you probably know, is famous for its glass, and Murano is where the glass factories are.  At the end of the 13th century, Venetian lawmakers ordered the glassmakers to move their foundries to the island, which sits a little less than a mile from the mainland, as they feared the fires would destroy the city.  The glassmakers became well-regarded, and their children were even permitted to marry into the more affluent and powerful families.  The downside was that the glassmakers could not leave the republic or take their glass-blowing secrets with them.  Should anyone do so, the secret police would hunt him down and either chop off his hands or put him to death.

Dozens of factories still exist on the island, but the number of glassmakers has decreased at an alarming rate.  Why?  Believe it or not, 40-50% of Venetian glass now comes from China.  Experts can tell the difference, but the general public usually cannot.  At any rate, Murano is all about glass, and wandering from store-to-store and factory-to-factory is a lot of fun.

After a few hours of glass overload, we headed to Trattoria Di Frati, a canal-side restaurant on the island.  The weather was beautiful, so we opted to sit outside.  Unfortunately, in addition to the guests at the other tables, pigeons were having a convention at the restaurant.
The Blue Comet and clock tower on Murano

"Ugh," Kerri said when one jumped onto the empty table next to us to snatch up a few crumbs left by the previous diners.

"Rats with wings," Twyla said.

"You know," I added, "I can't believe how many people let the stupid things sit on their arms, shoulders, and heads in St. Mark's Square.  Blech."

"That's disgusting," Kerri said.  I stomped my foot to scare one away from me.  We continued to talk about pigeons for a few minutes.

It was, at the very moment that the waitress exited the restaurant with our food, that I heard what sounded like a small fart (Please, please excuse my being blunt), and felt something hit my head and then my arm.

"Holy crap," I exclaimed. "A pigeon got me."  I held my pink-shirt-covered arm straight out and stared at a glob of, well, crap that blemished it.  I didn't dare touch my head.

The infamous restaurant
The waitress arrived, and, presenting crappy arm in her direction, I asked where the rest room was.

"Oh, no!" she said as she put my soup down and pointed to the restaurant.  "Remember, though, when a bird craps on you, it's good luck.

"Yeh. Yeh.  Great luck, "I snarked. "Please cover my soup and make sure his friends don't deliver more good tidings." 

As my luck would have it, there was a line to get into the women's rest room. The older woman in front of me smiled and looked at my stiff arm as I walked up.

"A bird got me," I explained showing her my defiled arm.

"That wasn't very friendly now, was it?" she snorted in her British accent.

"Not quite." I wasn't amused.  The woman who was occupying the women's rest room finally came out, and British Bertha went in.  She'd been in there about three minutes when another lady walked up.  "Is this the line for the WC?" she asked in broken English.  I nodded.

Bertha must have been taking a shower because she was taking her good old time in the rest room.  Thoughts of disgusting germs infesting my head and the threads of my pink t-shirt swirled around my mind, and I finally caved.

"Oh, for heaven's sake," I huffed and walked into the men's room.  I locked the door and started the clean-up process.  Luckily the room had soap and paper towels, so I was able to scrub the sleeve of my shirt.  Someone pulled at the door.  "I'm in here," i hissed.  I turned my attention to my hair and the little greenish-grey worm that sat on top.  "Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Gag. Gag."

I tried to pick it off with a paper towel, but it just smeared.  I heaved.  I wet a paper towel and tried to clean my hair with that.  I just made it worse.  I double heaved.  Someone pulled at the door again.  "Occupata!" I kicked the door.  "Scusami," some poor dude said.  I put soap on a paper towel and tried to wash my hair a bit but the crap just smeared around.  I repeated the step a few times but never got the stuff completely out of my hair.
Green marks the spot where the pigeon got me.  I had tried to clean my hair, but you can see some crappy remnants.

Defeated, I went back to the table.  I looked up at the railing above my head before I sat down. I didn't want another rogue pigeon anywhere near me.

"The waitress scared them off after you left," Twyla told me.  Great, I thought.

Somehow we got through lunch unscathed again and headed to a glass factory.  Along the way, pigeons lined the sidewalk laughing at me.

"Get away, you stupid thing," i said.  "Stay away from me!"  I waved my arms and stomped my feet. I'm sure the people walking by thought I was nuts for threatening pigeons.

Pigeons laughed at me the rest of the trip.

For the rest of the day, I swear that I felt my head burning in the spot where the pigeon left its mark.  Germophobe that I am, I wouldn't touch my head at all.  As soon as I got back to the apartment, I shampooed my hair five times.  FIVE TIMES.  The next morning, I washed it another three times. I wasn't taking any chances.

All of my Bolognese friends told me it was good luck that the stupid pigeon got me.  I wasn't having any of it, but maybe I should go play the slots today. I don't want to tempt luck.

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