Venice: A broken umbrella and a flooded Piazza San Marco

April 23. 9 pm. 
A friend called, a few hours ago, to cancel on our planned Milan and Como trip. A result of a work conference in D.C. Or something. Whatever, if the offer fell in my plate, I’d probably cancel on Milan and Como too.

I arrived into Venice this afternoon, a two-hour train ride from Florence that seemed to slide straight into a city submerged in water. The walk from the train station to the hostel proved simple, a five-minute walk into a lively square.

Check in, as per usual, started at two. And as the norm, my arrival happened before two. Dropping off my carry on bag, I left, heading away from the bustle and crossing a bridge before entering the old Jewish ghetto.

Totally accidentally given I hadn’t even glanced at my map.

Rialto Bridge
The colors of the city brighten as they play off the blues of the water. Everything runs by the canals: the taxis and gondolas, the ambulances and funeral processions. They say the city is sinking.  From watching how they adapt their lives around the water (in addition to the speed at which they placed planks over Piazza San Marco after it flooded my second day in the city), I imagine they will find a solution to keep Venice alive.

I love Venice: the steady waves of water hitting the basin, the sound of the boat's engines as they maze through the expanse of the canals, the gondolas carrying seated tourists.

A flooded Piazza San Marco
I ate dinner my first night at one of Venice’s two kosher restaurants. Venice’s Jewish population dates back, marking the first community of Jews to live in a ghetto. I ordered schnitzel, yet received schwarma. It tasted wonderful and I didn’t make a fuss.

A street- performer came in halfway through dinner. (European street performers freely enter restaurants to perform, always pulling out the shabby cup in request of a few coins of appreciation.) The man played the loveliest Jewish hymns, gathering a generous accumulation of tips. Smart really, coming into the Jewish restaurant. 

April 24.
Of course it poured this morning. And of course the umbrella, the third one I’ve gone through at this point, had to break.

I spent the first few hours of the morning cooped in the train station, devouring my Nicholas Sparks book. Until I looked at the clock, realizing two hours had gone by. The rain had yet to let up. But I wasn't in Venice to read in a train station and so I packed my book away and headed outside. Bearing the downpour drenching the city, I held my broken umbrella up as I purchased a bus boat ticket, wincing slightly at the steep price.

But it worked out well, given the winding curves of Venice’s narrow alleyways, separated by bridge after bridge, make it easy to lose your bearings. The city posts signs on their buildings in attempt to guide walkers. Although you’re lucky if you find a sign that guides you the whole through, given Venetians seem to have given up halfway through with putting up signs along the whole of the routes. 

I headed to Piazza San Marco—probably the most touristy part of Venice, but my absolute favorite. The morning’s downpour had flooded the plaza and by the afternoon, the water reached just above my ankles. I wandered around, heading into St. Mark's basilica and perusing the tourist shops lining the inner alleyways of the plaza.
Taking advantage of my 36- hour bus boat pass, I hopped back onboard, headed to Murano, a small island just off of Venice and known for glass blowing. The island was alright—a small version of Venice without the crowds. I found a beautiful cemetery. The signs marked clearly that photos were prohibited—a factor I liked. It’s funny—I don’t like graves within the cemetery. And I don’t like how real death becomes once you enter. But I love the beauty of cemeteries—the lush nature that always serves as a physical reminder for the renewal of life. It's peaceful and I enjoy walking through-- although always keeping to the main path rather than working my way around the graves.

I ended up sitting opposite a grass patch outside of the cemetery, glimpsing a field, of what I assume must have been a part of a school, just ahead. It was an ordinary scene, one a tourist wouldn’t head to visit. The area reminded me of Florida. The grass. The flatness. The boringness, in some ways. But I sat there and listened to my music for a while—a wave of emotions flooding over.

It’s hard to travel by yourself—a factor I never quite grasped prior to this week portion of my trip. I've always loved doing things on my own. I loved exploring by myself. I loved, and still love, not having to make conversation all the time. And I loved getting lost in my own head as I wander alone. But sitting there, the desire to be sitting next to someone felt so strong. I don’t know if it’s me that’s changed or if it’s me that’s come to a better understanding of myself, but I enjoy company. I enjoy sharing my experiences with another. And for the first time, I’m aware that I don’t enjoy experiencing alone. 

April 25- 26. 
There really are so many art museums you can go to. And with a massive selection to choose from in Paris, in addition to every other place I've so far visited, I decided to steer away from a classical art exhibit. Rather, I went to Palazzo Grassi, Venice’s modern art collection. One of the exhibits featured a nude model, much to my horror as I walked through. I recovered from my shock and did enjoy the museum. Palazzo Grassi is large enough to make the price well worth it, but small enough to make the museum manageable.

I spent a few hours in Lido-- a beach island off from Venice that bears a stark similarity to L.A.. I'd advise no more than a few hours to visit-- a stop to eat given the prices are significantly lower. 

There are new Korean girls in my hostel, making it a total of three Korean girls. One is a teacher, the other a student. The other, I’m not sure, although she just quit her job. So I guess she’s not sure either. They all spent the evening together—nice as they’re all on their own separate journeys, traveling the expanse of Europe alone. I really don’t understand how they go about months at a time by themselves. They don’t always speak the native tongue of the country they visit. And often, their English proves shaky. How difficult it must be to get around. And how lonely it must get. But they all seem fine, enjoying their time and soaking in their experiences. I find it amazing and admirable—but not for me.

My parents and my friend helped cancel my Milan and Como flight and hostel reservations, given I had no access to a computer. For me, 10 days alone is too much. I’m happy to call the trip finished after seven days of solo travel. I’m alright that I won’t be going to Como—it’s a stunning area, one I’d prefer to share with someone. As for Milan, my dad says it’s a one- day city. So cutting it a day too, does little to bother me.

I sat on the steps of the train station, my last morning in Venice. The water’s waves splashed gently against the edges of the pavement, the swarms of tourists adding a nice bustle to the character of the city.

I enjoyed my stay, save enjoying it alone. But it’s an area I hope to return to someday. What a different experience it will be, yet what wonderful memories I'll have as a basis for the future Venice experience.

Got bored on the bus boat to Lido. Hopped off a few stops early and found this gorgeous park!

1 Response to Venice: A broken umbrella and a flooded Piazza San Marco

March 27, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Was für ein toller Artikel , die Bilder sind wirklich atemberaubend !

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