Greetings from abroad!

I left the frenzy of Florence for peaceful Venice last Saturday, and have spent the week here.

Venice, like the Greek Islands, is a maze which I am still getting lost in, though some routes I can now do from memory. It is not lit as well as Greece, so I don't venture far at night. I feel like a mouse at times, never quite able to find the cheese hidden down one of the paths.

Private Gondalier
Having A Gondola To Myself
It is so nice being near water. I ride gondolas regularly. There are several places where they ferry you across the Grand Canal, which greatly speeds up my touring. At times I have had the boat to myself, other times it has been crowded (such as the time it was filled with boisterous 8 year olds - tipsy, tipsy!).

This town is beautiful, which is no news flash, I realize. I have been taking many pictures, and loving the ambiance. There are many spots with laundry strung out across canals drying in the wind. Picturesque as it is, I wondered about myself essentially running around photographing people's underwear with my telephoto lens. Hmmm...

You hang it, I'll photograph it!

Venice has an aging population. Most residents are 50 or older. This makes getting around through narrow alleyways akin to navigating through the Ballard QFC. Lots of doddering couples walking in such a way that you can't get around on either side.

Tourists in San Marco
Piazza San Marco:
More pigeons than people?
There are MANY tourists in the main square, but if I walk ten minutes in any given direction, the crowds thin substantially. It's too bad people don't explore more of what the city has to offer, but it makes it nicer for me. I am appalled that people pay to get all the way to Venice, and then choose to hang out in the square and let pigeons climb all over them so they can have their picture taken. Besides being more than a little gross (YUCK!!!), are the Italian pigeons really that special?

Many tourists take gondola rides, serenaded with singers and/or accordions. It's fun watching these go through town by the dozen all through the day, occasionally clogging up a canal. The gondoliers for their part are usually cracking wise to each other during the whole thing, though the passengers never seem to notice.

As I get into the heart of the city, it seems opera is never far away. It comes wafting out of windows, around corners, off boats, etc. The water is a steely blue from (I hear) the high salt content, and in the sunshine it is absolutely beautiful. (It is also dramatic in thunderstorms, which we have also had). Decay is evident everywhere, and adds a grizzled charm to the facades.

To get a touch of the good old US, I saw Mission to Mars. It was dubbed into Italian, but I don't think I missed much. I decided to rejoin Venetian culture. I have sampled the seafood here a couple times, and am not quite used to receiving my fish whole. I could sense some locals at the next table eyeing me with bemusement as I contemplated my plan of attack. You'll be relieved that I did not go hungry that night.

This weekend will be a quick stop in Salzburg, and then I am back to Munich for a mid-trip pit stop (and swing dancing!!!). I am anxious to see if my impressions of it will have changed.


Grand Canal, Venice