A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Venice Canals and Broken Hearts

If Venice were a holiday it would be Valentines Day. So much hope and eager anticipation for romantic interlude, such high expectations leading inevitably to sour disappointment. Were we to know then that we would fight like cats and dogs for all 11 days in Italy we would have skipped the country entirely. Love can’t be scripted by candle light and red wine alone. Two and half months on the road and we are at each others throats in the most beautiful of surroundings. We will never forget Venice, but for all the wrong reasons. Somewhere on the murky bottom of one of those picturesque canals lies my flower encrusted ring Ron gave me nearly five years ago, swimming with the goh fishies, forever entombed.

I know you want all the dirt, but however bad you think it was, trust me it was far worse so I’ll spare the melodrama and describe the lighter side of our affairs in Venice. Just keep in mind that there was some sort of meltdown brewing between and during all of this seemingly benign retelling of events.

They call it Venezia and it was built out in the ocean supposedly so its inhabitants could escape invading Germanic armies and the infamous Huns. It is most definitely sinking, as you can see stairs rise out of the water that once were ground level. Better see it now, with global warming it will be gone soon, but don’t come in the summer, it is way too hot and way, way, way too crowded.

Our first day we purposely got lost in the maze of alleys that make up the city. This was our favorite part, wandering around and down little streets, over bridges, along the canal for hours. Well, it was our favorite part until we got hungry and tried in vain to find an un-touristy place for dinner. This city is sort of like Italian Disneyland and the fake Venice backdrop in The Venetian in Vegas, you can’t really escape the set, behind the scenes is off limits.

Our biggest victory was the night we had dinner at Da Remigio which caters to mostly locals. They don’t even pretend to speak English or have an English version of the menu. Ron had a uniquely tasty version of lasagna and I had gnocchi pescatore. Of course I had the gnocchi. If you know me at all I cannot resist gnocchi if its on the menu and its on every menu in Italy so I ate it a lot! Our second course was veal scaloppini (veal in white wine sauce) which `was lovely yet not really memorable. Our salad came last, as it does in Europe, and it was literally just a bowl of sliced tomatoes that we had to dress at the table. Disappointing. As was the waiter when I asked for olive oil for the bread. Apparently this is big no no.

One day we found an osteria that had fritto misto (or freshly fried foods from heaven) and wine by the glass for 80 cents. Jackpot! Like a well trained rat on the hunt for good cheese, we sniffed the place out the next day through the veritable alley maze for over twenty minutes. Right right left over the bridge right then left again. To this day, I can’t tell you where in Venice you can find it or what street it is even on, it is only spatially programmed into my molecules to be recalled at a future and crucial date when wine from the barrel is essential to my survival.

St. Marks Square as you can imagine is a zoo. Disorienting and hot with way too many tourists. We still visited the cathedral (yet another church!) and the tower where you could see all of Venice at a birds eye view and at the top of the hour go deaf from the clanging bells. Then we went for pizza in a hole-in-the-wall near our hotel. But what a pizza! with gorgonzola and prosciutto it was molto bene. And that my friend is the extent of the Italian I know.

We decided to forgo the gondola ride. Other than it being over a hundred dollars for a half hour ride, you become the main attraction as thousands of eager tourists snap your photo from every bridge. Not exactly the romantic experience you dream about as a little girl. There is a poor mans way to ride the gondola, called a traghetto, it takes you across the grand canal for a meager fifty cents. Unfortunately we left it until the last night and by the time we returned from dinner it had closed. So much for adding a gondola to our modes of transport, we’ll have to make that camel ride happen for sure.


lyonsv August 28, 2009 at 1:51 AM  

It's not too late for the gondola ride-- there's always Annecy, "the Venice of France." 35 km from Geneva, so within TGV range of Paris. And they have gondolas of an equally tourist-focused kind :)

If it's a gondola, it counts, right?

corina August 29, 2009 at 6:51 PM  

you looked happy together when we saw you in Paris so hopefully the storm has passed over...if we can all just last until Thailand then the boys can go picture taking together and we can have Thai massages!

btw...no visa req. for morrocco...sorry for the scare ;p


Alison September 5, 2009 at 11:47 AM  

yes, we are getting along better, more like cats and cats. mostly snuggling and purring with the occastionaly hissy fit.

can't wait for thailand! the food and daily thai massage sounds sublime...

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