Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lost in Venice

So we had breakfast and are now ready to explore beautiful Venice. The hotel told us to check with the concierge and he would give us a map and directions. He does..and he also offers a complimentary water taxi ride to the island of Murano where they make glass. My wife always wanted to go there so this is good. It also happens to be the Venice equivalent of the get a free meal and listen to a condo sales pitch game. But it was low pressure and enjoyable and my wife was able to buy some Christmas presents and we got to ride through the canals.

The water taxi drops us off in front of the Piazza San Marco. We look at the beautiful buildings. We see the bell tower. We see the Bridge of Sighs. We see the Doges Palace. We see the pigeons. We see the pigeon shit! People feed the birds so they make more shit. We look at the long lines waiting to get into the cathedral. We feel the heat. Even living in New Orleans doesn't prepare you for this kind of heat. It makes you want to change clothes after 5 minutes. Arid Extra Dry was never tested in Venice. Anyway, we wander off in the general direction of the Rialto Bridge. I say general because there are no straight routes to anywhere. Once you get out of the piazza, it's like walking in a maze. The buildings are 50' high and you can't see but 20' in front of you. You have to look for arrows painted on the buildings to guide you to a landmark. Then, if you are good, you get within hand grenade distance of where you want to be and can see it from the canal. You can't ask a taxi driver. There are none.

In addition, the maze has hazards along the way. These hazards take the form of every designer shop you would expect to see on Rodeo Drive. (Dolce and Gabbano, Bruno Magli, Versace, Prada......) So as we are trying to find our way, my wife is also ducking into these shops and disappearing on me. Thankfully she was wearing a big straw hat and she was easy to spot when she came out again.

So we get to Rialto Bridge. Beautiful! And look at all the shops! We found a nice little cafe at the foot of the bridge called "Al Busco". The food was very good, the prices reasonable, and they treated us very well. The only bad thing was that my wife got splashed on the leg (probably from a pigeon that was under our table near the water) and the water must have had some stinging critters in it because she developed an itchy rash that looked like a jelly fish sting. Lesson: don't dangle your hand in canals of Venice!

So it's shop, shop , shop all afternoon. As we get back to the Piazza San Marco, I want to pop over and get a picture of the Bridge of Sighs. My wife doesn't want to make the walk and says she'll head down the side of the square and meet me at the corner. BIG MISTAKE. Never split up! If you do, designate a landmark to meet. The "end of the square" isn't specific enough. But I'm delerious in the heat and not thinking straight and I head off to the Bridge of Sighs. Stop, shoot, got it, and I'm back in 10 minutes. I expect to find my wife strolling along window shopping. And she's wearing that big straw hat and nobody in Venice wears hats so she'll be easy to spot. Wrong. Get to the corner and no wife. OK, I'm thinking she headed in the direction of the hotel so I go after her trail. Through the alleys, I come to a small square with a bridge over a canal. I stand at the top of the bridge and do the indian lookout thing trying to see that damn hat. No joy. I now figure she decided to go to the hotel and get a cold $10 diet coke. So, if I go there, I'll either find her or I can at least dump all the stuff I'm carrying and travel fast and light as I go on the hunt for my wife. The room is empty. Dumping the stuff, I now back track my route like a good boy scout. What's that? A hat! Oops. There is one other woman wearing a straw hat and it isn't my wife. I work my way back to the square and as I scan the square what do I see but my wife waving the hat over her head like a flag. She is not a happy camper and the only thing I can say is why aren't you wearing the hat?

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