05 November 2011

Getting Lost in Venice

Ah, Venice. What a bittersweet relationship we have. I always dreamed of visiting this romantic city and imagined it to be the average tourist experience. But I definitely got an experience that is all my own and something to laugh about now. My first trip to Venice was in 2007, when my mom came to visit me in Italy. We took the train out of Florence and into Venice - which was quite dreary with the frequent showers that October brings. Upon exiting the train station and laying my eyes on the reality of this beautiful city, I was excited to explore its numerous canals and buildings - eager to get a feel for this famous city in the few hours I had.

The sight that met me upon leaving the train station

Right away, we made for one of Venice's many water taxis and made our way down various canals, towards the St. Mark's Basilica area. Riding down the Grand Canal is one thing i will never forget - and the sight of watercolor buildings whose colors seem to be running into the very water the walls are plunging into. It feels like a very intricately styled dream or movie...not possibly reality. It's very easy to lose yourself in thought here, but too soon we arrived at our destination: Harry's Bar. My mom thought this would be an interesting experience - and, indeed, it was! It was opened in 1931 and has been visited by Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock and most notably, Ernest Hemingway. The restaurant was accessed through  an unassuming door - like any other - but inside, it was super fancy yet quaint. True, I felt a little out of place - but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn't until we were seated that we noticed just how expensive the restaurant was...I mean, €11 for water??? And I got the simplest thing I could find on the menu - a club sandwich - and even that was €37. Crazy. I mean, it's bread and some chicken! But, I guess you pay for the experience. And that, it was.

And now, the experience that has come to define my experience(s) in Venice. So, it's pouring rain, St. Mark's Square is flooding and me and my mom are waiting in line to go inside the Basilica. When we get to the front of the line, we realize that my mom can't bring her backpack inside - and since she doesn't want to check it, she tells me to go inside, have a look around and meet her in front of the Basilica when I was done. And so I did. I walked around the museum at the top of the Basilica, saw the bronze horses, but didn't spend too long inside so I didn't keep my mom waiting too long. I leave the Basilica, look around the Square...and no mom in sight. Hmmm...maybe she had a look around, I thought? So I waited...and waited. After walking the perimeter of the square, with no sight of her, I start to get panic-y. On top of that, the rain starts coming down really heavy now (and my mom has my rain coat.) I stood near the entrance for what seemed like forever, soaked from the rain, while passers-by stared and felt sorry for me. Suddenly, I was all alone with no idea of what to do or where to go. I didn't understand where she could have gone. Then, before I could figure out how it happened, my mom came towards me wondering where I had been. I recounted the story for her, and she assured me she had not moved from where she had been waiting. Don't ask me how it happened - how we could possibly miss each other - but I was definitely shaken from it.

Doge Palace

St. Mark's Basilica from the side

Too much rain for flocks of pigeons. This guy was hiding out, trying to keep warm.

The rest of the day was spent wandering Venice's streets and crossing over cute little bridges - getting lost (in a good way!) By no means do I recommend visiting Venice only for the day - I think it should be explored further, discovering its authentic treasures, but we had fun. Being together and exploring something special. We walked into all kinds of shops, including the lovely mask shops that I love, and ventured over the Rialto Bridge. It's kind of an eerie feeling to visit a city in which no cars are present - I quite enjoyed that! Only smells and the growing number of footsteps to tell you where you are headed. I definitely think you need to get lost in Venice, only not in the way I did! There's something special about getting lost (with a friend!) down the less touristy streets and into shops that seems to have been there for centuries - maybe even owned by the same family! Our day ended too quickly, but I was thankful to have spent the afternoon with my mother, sharing an experience I would never forget. Little did I know this would be the last trip abroad we would spend together. It seems so long ago now, but it's still just as important to me now as it was then.

Venice's Grand Canal

Rialto Bridge

Me and my momma

1 comment:

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