Sunday, 5th of February, 2017
It’s two-thirty in the morning. I’m so jetlagged. I landed in Venice yesterday afternoon through thick fog and breezed through immigration, currency exchange and baggage handling. For 8 euros I got a one way bus ticket to Venice proper and changed into some jeans and a clean shirt, pulling out the trench coat Dee gave me. Thank God she did because my hoodie would not have been enough. It was only seven celcius and raining.
Side Note: What the heck Earth. Literally only a minute passed between desert and snow.
The bus took us across and dropped us off about a five minute walk from my hotel. On the way I saw trees with needles instead of leaves, grey sky and yellow grass. It was scenery I relate to North Dakota and Minnesota, though that might have been the cold weather and grey skies you’d never seen in Australia.
Once dropped off I made use of the wifi from a local bar (Venice is full of free wifi but I have a lot of trouble connecting to it for some reason) to look up directions. Just across a bridge and along a canal. Well, that sounds easier than it is. Bridges here go up really high and then down with lots of wide, shallow steps. Luckily, after struggling up a few steps with a heavy suitcase, I was discovered by one of the men who wait at the stop to help tourists with their luggage. He took my suitcase and led me quickly to my hotel, probably cutting how long it would take me to get there into a third, not counting the bridge struggle. Once there I paid him a good price as I was cold, hungry and tired and so grateful to finally be here. My new-found abilities at bartering and saying no to strangers stopped me from getting robbed too much.
The Hotel Florida is not quite what I expected. The queen bed is two singles pushed together and I can only get ‘limited’ on my wifi connection. I’ll talk to the desk lady tomorrow and see if she can help. For a few minutes I was afraid I didn’t have any hot water but it just takes its time. Still, it appears to be in a really good location. After a shower I consulted Desk Lady (maybe I should ask her name) about where I’d find a supermarket. She directed me to Conards and, being the person I am, I somehow interpreted ‘Go across the bridge and go straight’ as ‘cross the bridge, wander the narrow streets, return to the Grand Canal and walk in a big circle until you find yourself back at the bus station’. Luckily, I spotted a tourist information centre and they had a map.
The entrance to Conads is quite small and at first I thought I’d wandered into a small deli with a variety of ready-to-cook pasta meals. Finding a small doorway, and two more afterward, I found sections of fresh fruit, biscuits, sweets and a single aisle of laundry detergent, moisturisers and feminine products.
I got some apples and Italian biscuits (which are making good midnight snacks), and headed out in search of a proper meal to mark my arrival in Venice. It was still raining so this adventure took me back to the bus stop to several small restaurants I’d seen, but they were more cafeterias or bars. Two other tourists approached me (I must look really not Italian as everyone has spoken English to me) and asked if I knew where to eat. I told them that I was trying to figure that out and we spotted a policeman who gave us directions to a restaurant closer to my hotel. Note that everything has been within five minutes of my hotel so far.
Dinner here is eaten much later at about eight or nine so when we rocked up at five the place was nearly empty. A couple of other tourists only. Determined to get some Italian practice in before classes started, I pretended I didn’t speak English and managed to get a table, order and pay my bill in Italian with only one hiccup when I mispronounced ‘tagliette’, the kind of pasta I had. Either I’m doing something to annoy people the moment they see me or Italians in general are rather…rude. They have a brusque manner that, if I was in Australia or America, I’d take to mean I’d offended them somehow. Something I’ll get used to.
I had a great view of a canal (where doesn’t) as I ate and drank a really nice white wine. I stayed for a good hour even after I’d finished my meal, looking out the window and using internet that had finally let me connect to it to tell my friends and family I was alive and I’d found food. Finally, I was driven to leave by the coldness of running around in the rain seeping into my bones. I decided on a hot shower and a bit of exploring as the rain had let up. However, I was distracted by the street my hotel was on having turned into a small night market. Lights were strung from shop to shop and their doors thrown open. Almost every shop I’ve seen sells masks, especially with Carnival coming at the end of the month. Drawn by heat coming out of one shop, and actually in need of a mask as I intend to come back for Carnival, I found myself in one of the shops and picking up a mask that I really liked. It wasn’t an expensive or fancy one, but I like the little music notes on the side and the sweep of it that reminds me of wings.
I toured the rest of the street where umbrellas, scarves, more masks, ice cream and hot wine were for sale along with handbags and clothes. My teeth were actually chattering now and my view obscured by my own breath so I hurried back to turn on my shower and wait for the hot water.
I swear I just sat down for a moment, to make sure I didn’t spend too much money, but next thing I know I’m waking up at one in the morning. So. Jet-lagged.
Found the internet, by the way. After some further reading of the information sheets on the back of my door, it’s only available in the hotel lobby. I’m sharing the steps with two other jet-lagged tourists, one from Korea and the other from (Germany?). We can exchange the word ‘hello’ and smile like the tired nerds we are.