Venice – City of Stone and Water

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

First of all, dibs on that title for a future story. Today has been wonderful, and absolutely exhausting. I managed to get some more sleep after posting yesterday and came down for breakfast at 8am. Breakfast here is very small, some croissants, a coffee or juice. When I move into my dorm tomorrow I’ll blow everyone’s minds with a full blown egg and fake sausage breakfast.

Conad City and Dead Ends

I needed some toiletries, like shampoo and etc. Since Google Maps refused to download any place in Italy, I got a fancy new app called maps.me. The thing is beautiful and can give me directions when I don’t have internet. Following it meant getting used to going down narrow streets. If I saw streets this narrow in Australia I’d avoid them, but that’s most of the streets in Venice.

It took me three times as long to get there as it should have due to going ‘oh, that looks interesting’ and heading to the next bridge to take pictures before finding my path again. Turns out, quite a few of these narrow paths lead right to a canal and just end. I guess you’re meant to get into a boat. The canals themselves a murky blue-green, beautiful. Sometimes you get a whiff of fish and I fully believe what I hear about that becoming quite strong in places during summer.

When I found Conard City I was much more at home. At first. It’s a good supermarket, with all the fresh, frozen and snack food as well as cleaning, house and hygiene products. I giggled a little when I saw all the aisle signs were in Italian. I’ve been randomly laughing a lot lately, side effect of achieving a life goal. The signs weren’t above the right aisle, though, which was weird. I wonder if they have reorganised or if all the signs are meant to be one to the right.

Books, Basilica and Brains

Items procured, I loitered outside while maps.me loaded directions to a Basilica. An old man stopped and talked to me, didn’t give a care that my Italian needed help. When we said goodbye and I turned the corner I literally jumped for joy at my first successful conversation. On my way to the basilica I happened across something amazing. Used book store! The squishiest bookstore ever. So I got my first book written in Italian! It was weird when I went to buy it though. The store guy had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth (probably not great with all those books around) and was balancing a vase and pieces of wood, glue within reach. No idea what he was doing, but he took my 2 euros and let me have the book.

Just down the street was an impressive looking gate leading to an impressive looking space. With the exception of a couple of parks the entire island of Venice is either a canal or paved walkways. I haven’t seen a car since I got here. The bus, which drops off just at the end of the bridge, is the only thing close. So the ground is really interesting and when there isn’t ground there’s really interesting water, with a lot of boats on it.

The path to the basilica passed my hotel so I dropped off my purchases and headed off again. I came upon it quite suddenly, rounding a corner and finding it right. there. Tall and beautiful and guys, I know I’m a nerd, but it was exactly like in Assassin’s Creed 2. The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari.

I circled it, staring up at statues and carved walls. At the back I found my next distraction. The Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci. For 8 euros I got to go in and see a room of his paintings, not the originals, duplicates. A case of notebooks with his handwriting and diagrams. A room of his anatomical diagrams and an octagon of mirrors you can step into. The second level was full of small and big machines that had been made using his diagrams and most of them could be used. So I got to check out a lot of effort saving devices. Everything from hole-diggers to tanks. This guy was seriously brainy and he must have been so curious about everything. Definitely go to this if you’re in Venice.

Lost and Saved

My afternoon was odd. I gathered up the energy to not fall asleep at 1pm, wrapped myself up in coats and scarves, grabbed my umbrella and headed out. I was aiming for the Bridge of Sighs but after five minutes of walking somehow found myself at the bus station again. Completely wrong direction. My feet were cold after walking through puddles, I was still exhausted and my umbrella kept flipping upside down. Put off from walking for an hour and another back, I decided to take a look inside the train station near my hotel. There’s a lot of cafeterias in there. I saw the platforms and on the platforms I saw a handful of people in military uniform with rather large guns. Decided I didn’t want to loiter there.

An unassuming doorway between the station and my hotel turned out to be a church with only a couple of tourists taking shelter from the rain inside. I stepped through the door and lost my breath. The Chiesa degli Scalzi could teach Sydney’s St. Mary’s Cathedral a thing or two about stonework. A high ceiling, all parts of it painted with images of God and angels. Altars of statues in depressions were amazingly elaborate and detailed.

When I’d gathered the necessary motivation to go back outside, I wandered the street of stores again, looking at all the interesting things before returning to my hotel for another session of defrosting.

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