22 May 2000
We took the train through the Austrian Alps to Padova. We had wanted to stay in Venice, as a stopover to Eastern Europe, but the hostel, which was supposed dto be in a wounderful location, was fully booked. So we booked into Padova and found it to be a very nice hostel, in a great location in a really great little city! It has the largest area inside of a city wall that i have ever seen! It is a University city and we found it to be very comfortable. A much nicer introduction to Italy that Florence was last time.
In fact, much of what bothered us so much about Italy last time was not a problem in Padova, at least at first. We did eventually run into difficulties witht he Italian attitude, but on the whole, we liked the city quite a bit. The food problem, it is VERY hard to eat in Italy, was an issue and kept us on edge much of the time, but we had a nice day.
The next day we took a morning train 26 minutes into Venice. Venice is a facinating, historic and bizarre city. This city was once the capitol of an Empire that encompased a large part of the then known world -- and now it is an amusement parks. The places we have visited that have been over touristy, Prauge, Rome, Amsterdam, among others, have really disgusted us... but this was so over the top that it was kind of facinating in its own way!!
It is hard to find an Italian at all in Venice searching through the huge crowds of Canadians, Austrailians, Germans and Japanese. most of the americans won't come until July and August!
We took a couple of hours walking the back alleys and bridges, trying to find the REAL Venice, and we did find a little bit. We found a couple of lovely deadend alleys with laundry hanging out windows and no tourists -- and we found a couple of plazzas with Venician Toddlers playing football with mom (i wonder if that one in orange will eventually play on the Italian national team?) and older couples holding hands.
We were kind of trying to get to San Marco, the main square in the city. Maps are not very useful in Venice, but almost every alleyway has a sign pointing the way towards San Marco. We generally went the other way -- to get off the beating track (if this is possible in Venice!) but eventually we joined the flow and were taken along mindlessly by the wave of tourists.
A couple of times we were stopped by a solid WALL of torists, unable to move foward at all. At these times we actaully discussed weather we wanted to continue or if we should just blow off San Marco completly. When were faced with this wall of humanity, preventing us from getting to San Marco, we questioned weather we even cared. But there was always the slide shows to think about.
We do not carry a camera when we travel. It is too heavy, and expensive, takes too much mental energy and upon returning home we prefer millions of memories to a handful of images. (More on the camera issue in a future travelogue). My parents went to Europe in 1962, (and my grandfather in 1932!) and he took, i would estimate, 728,236 rolls of film that summer. Approx 75% of those were of St. Marks Square in Venice. Clearly it made a big impression on him. It is worth noting that i was born, and therefore named, just a year after those photos were taken. It has often made me wonder if that is where my name came from.
When i was growing up, our family, especially me and Dad, loved to watch these slides, and it was a monthly activity. So i had to continue!
Eventually the flow of people pushed us into the square, and, surprisingly, it was really qute wonderful! The palace covers three sides and is very long with identical time blackend colums and windows that make a wonderful effect looking down the length. The gorgous, chaotic, unique church is something else entirely. The random colored colums, inlays and mosaics make this partially Orthodox, partially Islamic, partially Catholic church quite a spectical.
We played cribbage (yes, we made a cribbage board at the farm so we can now play regularly!) and watched the Japanese take turns photographing each other infront of it while the americans and Canadians took 15 pretentious minutes looking for the perfect angle, the exact angle on that 10 cent postcard over there!
The buses in Venice are, of course, BOATS! At least in the center of the city. I think this is extrmely cool! So we bought daypasses (not THAT expensive for a touristy city $9) and rode the boats the rest of the day. We went around the main island and out to the islands of Lido and Torchello and Buranao and Murano. I really liked the colorful little out of the way island of Burano. I have a friend in Seattle named Murano... i wonder.... It was very relaxing riding the boats for hours just looking at the pretty city and wilderness (yes, there are grasslands!).
Then we took a boat up the grand canal to the train station. It is very odd the way the buildings go right down into the water... makes you wonder which came firsT! We missed a train by 10 minutes, but that ment that we had time to buy our train ticket to Ljubljana for the next day. But then our train was delayed and delayed... and when we finally got moving, it kept stopping! and to make a long story short the 26 minute ride to Padova took us almost 3 hours.
But we made a very interesting friend from Romania while we were waiting. He helped us understand the announcements and we chatted... it was very cool. When we got back to Padova we found that many streets were blocked off and the big square just 2 blocks from our hostel had all kinds of activity as some big carnival was being constructed or taken down.
In the morning before we grabbed our train to Slovenia i saw a
local Newspaper. The 10th stage of the Tour of Italy, the
second biggest bike race in the world, had ended 2 blocks from
our hostel! While we were in the next city!!! DAMN!
© Copyright Mark Canizaro 2000
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