Opening an email from TAP Airlines I found a round trip ticket to Venice with my name on it. My friends Larry and Pamela were spending Spring Break in Northern Italy and decided I had to come. Let me add to my list of reasons to live in Portugal:
• Free travel to fabulous European cities.
Landing at Marco Polo Airport, I was curious how I was going to find my way to the hotel where Pamela had booked the apartment. Never one to do my homework I had no idea where I was going or how to get there, one of my dirty little travel secrets; if you don’t know where you are going you will always be surprised.
Surprise! There were my friends, hours earlier than expected craning their necks trying to spot me among the morning’s arrivals. We boarded a crowded, wet water taxi to cross the Lagoon for the hotel show to us the apartment. At the desk, I saw an erasable sign with a time later in the evening and asked the clerk what it was for. It was when high tide was going to flood the streets that day. If you were late you would be very wet on the way “home”. I glanced at the water overlapping the top of what passes for streets, checked the time and thought my waterproof shoes were no match for this city. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2231342/Tourists-swim-Venices-iconic-St-Marks-Square-Floating-City-flooded-high-tides.html
Following the bellman we cross a bridge and down an alley so small a larger person would need to traverse it sideways, reach the courtyard and were guided inside and up the steps to a darling two room apartment. The largest room is a full kitchen with an oak dining table. The sleeping room comfortable, warm and cozy.
Pamela and I love to cook together so we spent time at the market and gathered fresh pastas and anything that looked yummy to whip together in our wonderful kitchen while Larry entertained us with jokes and we caught up on our lives over Italian wine. I had the chance to make the baked chicken that keeps me in the top chef status among my friends.
A Tony Bourdain fan, of course I am an expert on the food of Venice. I had watched two compete episodes of his show “No Reservations” filmed there. (http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/anthony-bourdain/episodes/venice). We ate our lunches and small dinner in backstreet cafes, only having one horrible lunch where they refused to serve us the polenta and little fish we ordered. We could see in the display case, we saw other people with them; instead we were served some overpriced cat food type of dish. In case you are planning a trip, it was very close to the Accademia Gallery, you will know it by the scowling face of the owner at the door.
One evening while walking in St. Marks Square, I broke out waltzing and spinning as I hear, Verdi of course, being played by a small orchestra, absurd behavior for a woman my age but I feel so giddy and gloriously happy here. We walk in the late evenings arm in arm pausing to look as we cross each bridge at the ethereal view. Take masses of photos each day and toast to Venice and our friendship.
A good catholic, Pamela went to Easter Mass at St. Marks and then wakes Larry and me after for breakfast. I love to go to mass with her, I am not catholic but enjoy incense and ritual, but my warm nest of quilts would not move as easily as the rock moved from the tomb, and Larry his religion is knowledge and naps.
Truman Capote said the floating city was like eating a box of chocolate candy liquor. Miss Manners, Judith Martin rents a “palazzo” there every chance she can, at least four times a year. Huge cruise ships slowly are pulled into the harbor past St. Mary of the Rosary. Then they send their day-trippers out in groups into the cold rain or crazy crowded hot summer to see what they can before getting home in time for dinner and the next postcard.
An average of 50,000 tourists a day, Venice is crowded and expensive. It is either too cold or wet or too hot. There is nothing to buy, the art is boring. You will be crowded, wet and uncomfortable. Frankly, Las Vegas is more fun, go there. Stay away from Venice, it has had too many visitors and is just too old to be fun. Go to Epcot. Go anywhere, but stay away from Venice; it is just magical and I want it all for myself.