VENICESept 12, 13
Lost in Venice: Uncover the Mysteries, glass treasures, and Liquid Labyrinths that Steal your Soul
After a dreamy visit to Verona, your first sight of Venice is a total MindFuck. What? No roads? No streets? Just water, water everywhere. If you want to go any place, you have to take a boat, or walk through a labyrinth of narrow canals and cobblestone bridges. Every road and street is a freeway made of liquid. Everybody floats around town on boats and ferries. So my travel buddy, Michael and I, bought a i hour unlimited travel pass for the two days we would spend trying to figure out where we could go, and how we would find our way through this maze of a city that’s like no other place in Italy.
In Venice, even with a GPS glued to your face, don’t plan on understanding where you are or how to get around. The first time I was in Venice was 30 years ago when I took my Grandmother to Italy for her 70th Birthday. Cell phones and Internet did not exist at that time, and all we had was a shitty map that never quite led us to what we wanted to find. Even now, with GPS, somehow we would end up in a dark alley that led to a bar that led to several glasses of wine and conversations with strangers who also had no idea where they were or where they were going.
The lady at the train station info booth showed us how to find our hotel and which Vaporatti boat to take. There’s like 12 different city boat lines that transport people all around the labyrinths and Islands of Venice, sort of like a subway or a bus line. Given the fact that Venice is a huge mass of Islands and tiny bits of floating cities connected by bridges and canals, you are instantly confused. We took the boat that the info lady directed us to, and Micheal’s GPS took us on a long winding walk through the aforementioned alleys, bridges and canals till we finally found the hotel, obscurely tucked into a courtyard that was at least 500 years old. When we tied to check in, the guy told us we were at the wrong hotel, and that our reservation was at their ‘other hotel’ somewhere else in town.
. The concierge noticed the mind-fucked look on his ur faces and ordered us cocktails on the house, then called us a water taxi, which would have cost us an insane 50 euros. They sent us to Hotel Principe (a hotel with a completely different name that was on our reservation) that turned out to be only a one block walk from the train station. The Italian word for ‘late’ is ” ritardo”. I didn’t feel like I was late. for anything, but I did feel molto ritardo.
During a hallucinatory 48 hours we spent exploring this ancient city, I went on hunt for glass treasures in Murano, known for its one of a kind glass jewelry and sculptures, discovered some insanely tasty Apertivo (small food plates) at a local hole in the wall pub that was built in the 12th century, and of course, MORE wine. Like the dark alleys and pathways that lead you into unknown places, Venice is brimming with people and conversations from all over the world. We met up a couple from Venice , California, who eagerly talked our ear off about everything from travel tips to their life story. The guy informed me that “he does alot of blow” which explains why he had so much to say. They showed us the ropes when ordering from a snotty bar tender who seemed really annoyed with us. “You have to be really aggressive,” he said with his hands flying around like an Italian. He was an Irish dude from Philly. “It helps if you act gay, and flirt with the bartender,” he added, before darting into the mens room for the 50th time. Wow thats so 80’s, I thought, as I gazed at an old photo of the Pope on the wall. I sipped my red wine under the blessing eyes of the Pope. He looked as if he was staring at everyone in the bar praying that all who passed through these ancient walls forget about condoms and birth control devices. Theres more Catholic churches in Italy than McDonalds and Burger Kings.
When you finally find your way out of the mazes, it seems normal to consume an ungodly amount of gelato and cookies made of pistachio and chocolate. And maybe a Lemoncello, and, oh what the hell…another bottle of wine. The cheesy sound of a karaoke type singer imitating John Lennon singing old Beatle’s song with an Italian accent drifted up the alley into our hotel window every night. I heard the his same setlist two nights in a row, which means the guy has probably been singing those same songs every night for the past 15 years, and if I come to Venice next year, Ill see that guy again. Theres a definite sense that nothing changes here. And even if there wasn’t wifi 500 years ago, people probably ate and drank in the same places and did the same things under the watchful stare of statues of saints.
After a last hypnotic gaze at the turquoise green canal from my hotel patio, we packed up and headed for the Italo high speed train to Florence. oUr departing train was leaving “15 minutes ‘ritardo’, ” but after only 48 hours in Venice, my brain was at least 5 centuries ritardo. Which means Ill be back again next year, for another timeless journey in liquid wonderland.