Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 19: Let They Feet Guide Thee

There are over 2000 alleys in Venice and over 400 bridges. We may have seen more of them today than anyone has or anyone should in a 24 hour period. We walked toward the fish market early in the AM. Of course, we didn't get there for awhile . . . because we got lost.

It was low-key and uncrowded. But even not being a fish lover or fisherman, I couldn't help but think seafood enthusiasts would be in heaven in this small, covered, dank space compared to some of the more expensive fish food . . . places. Shops? Fish delis? Fish food aquariums? I have no idea. Anyway, there were eels, crabs, rays, every kind of fish you could want.

We walked toward the Rialto and watched the ships come in for the morning market. They bring all the farm goods in on small motor boats from the surrounding cities and farmlands. They don't grow anything in Venice. Except for pigeons.

We crossed the Rialto Bridge and just got lost in it all. In fact, we spent probably 95% of the time in Venice without a map. Just getting lost in the back streets and the main streets and the far out parts of the islands. And how could you not get lost? The city is mad in its layout and traffic flow.

We made our way to St. Mark's Square (which actually is a square) and ate it all up. Then we made a decision. It was so nice out, the sun just blazing through a completely blue sky, that we stayed outside. We didn't do St. Mark's Basilica. We didn't do the Campanile bell tower. We didn't do the Bridge of Sighs or the Doge's Palace. Or the Accademmia. Nothing. We didn't want to spend the day in lines or waiting, so we just kept walking.

We stayed on the southern pier/boardwalk of the main island and walked along the water to the east. I bought some cool-guy mirror shades. We ended up on the eastern shore of the island. We found some empty park and walked around. We walked north. Wound up at the old fortress and current military/police base of Venice. We found the old Venitian residents' market, totally different than the one by the fish market. No tourists whatsoever (except us).

We found our way back to the Rialto area, ate some panini wraps and had gelato stop #24. I'm not kidding. And Venice has nothing on Rome when it comes to gelato. We went back to St. Mark's Square and people watched. Then we had to go back to the hotel because I was stupid and wore sandals and got a blister. So we took an afternoon siesta at the hotel and then went back out.

Got dinner at a cafe on the water in the Jewish Ghetto. Got lost again. Wound up at St. Mark's again. Walked the southern boardwalk along the water westward and in the sunset. Sat on a pier with our feet hanging over the water. Tried to walk back to our hotel, wound up at the complete northeast corner of the island. Went back through the Jewish Ghetto and, sufficiently beat and extrememly tired, found our hotel.

Jo went right to bed. I watched V for Vendetta on the ipod. I love that movie. It acutally made me think of Rome and Europe and how they used to be grand and now they're in ruins. Really, Europe has amazing sights, but it's pretty dirty and smelly everywhere we've been. And there are beggars and street peddlers everywhere.

There have been beggars, all the same ethnicity, on every train, in every subway and train station, and outside of every major tourist attraction. Many of them carry a little piece of cardboard and ask "You speak English?" so if you say yes they show you the card and if you say no they show you the card because they know you understood them. The card says, and I'm not making this up: "Hello, my name is [something]. I have a brother (or father on some of the cards) back in [place] that has cancer and/or pneumonia. Please help, etc." I kid you not. "Cancer and/or pneumonia." I told one of them, "Well, I mean if I had to, I'd pick pneumonia if I were him." They didn't get it.

And then the peddlers. Always one of two ethnicities, these people know what they're doing is illegal. A cop will show up and they'll all scatter like ants. And then when he turns his back, they'll all take one or two steps backtowards their turf. Then he turns again. They run again. It's a ridiculous third-grader game of cat and mouse. I realize they come from a bad place where their lives sucked, but I dunno. Some of the beggars use their kids. One lady came up to Jo and me in the Jewish Ghetto while we were eating and asked us for some of our pizza. I was dumbfounded so I just stared at her and said, "Seriously?" Jo, of course, gave her a piece of pizza. Anyway, just thinking at the end of a long and beautiful day.

noooo! crabs!

she's in heaven right now

dude bringing in the goods in the morning. the wine comes off the boats first.

the rialto bridge and the jo

see what getting up early gets you? this place was a mad house later on in the day.

the fleet before taking off to charge poor tourists an arm and a leg

St. Mark's Basilica, under construction like everything else

the Campanile

st. gregorio something, an island to the south

i'm no architectural expert, but doesn't it look like that white building is going to fall over?

the southern boardwalk area

part of jo's "cats in funny places" series

i look . . . awkward. the park looks cool.

same park

every day is laundry day!

old fortress, new police base


there are these yellow signs with black letter everywhere that direct you to the main points of interest so you can sort of tell where you are. some punk kid painted over this one and made the arrow point the wrong way. funny.

that gondola driver ran into that wall

Doge's Palace

parking in port for the night

what i want for Christmas


Laura Garner said...

Wow. So fun that you guys got to do that trip! I love the comments! I love all the character. You don't see too much of that in So Cal. Just stucco houses mostly :)

Tanya said...

I'm impressed with all the walking. We did what we thought was a lot of walking (not so much, after reading your blog) in D.C. and my legs and feet would just be burning at the end of the day. You two are tough!