Posted by: jeanne | February 6, 2015

walking around in the high tide

today/yesterday being full moon, and a storm, made for a very high tide.  it was forecasted at 130cm, which means about half the city is supposed to be covered.  but as with the weather forecast, the tide forecast seems a bit overestimated.  it was high, alright, but it didn’t cover all that much of the venice floor.  enough to make for dramatic photos, and lots of trouble for the people whose floors were flooded, but nothing like half the city.

having said that, i must confess that to venture out today i wore plastic bags inside my boots.  i’ve got water boots that aren’t really, because they have a zipper, so the ankle leaks no matter what.  i actually complained to the company about this, and they allowed me to choose another pair, but i got wellies for jim, and made do with the ones i had.  i could wrap them in packing tape, but garbage bags worked great.

today was extremely windy, and it also snowed.  for a time it was pretty thick in teh air, and the flakes were the largest i’ve ever seen – palm sized.  they weren’t sticking on teh grass, but the surfaces of the vaporetto were icy, and the walkways to the vaporetto dock were treacherous.


so i wore leggings, my wool pants, bags inside my boots, a wool sweater, a polyester vest, my sister’s wax rain jacket (thanks susie), silk glove liners, and down filled gloves.  plus a thick neck scarf and a rain hood.  and the only casualty of my trip on teh vaporetto were my hands, which froze to death as i insisted on taking pictures.  i stood on the back deck of the boat, to cut the wind, and there was a german tourist out there with me.  i remarked to him that he must be a tourist, because we were the only people stupid enough to be outside in the weather.  the wind drove the snow sideways, and the wet flakes stung as they slapped my face.  my wool pants got soaked (but my leggings stayed dry).

everything was flooded, of course.  i went out just before high tide, as i have been doing all week, and took another round of pictures of flooded foundations on the grand canal.  and then i got off at rialto and decided to find water on the streets.  rialto was flooded; it’s a low point, especially the market area.  most of the vendors stayed home, however, so there weren’t any interesting photos of shoppers conducting their business standing in water.


so i ventured to the shop that sells peanut butter, and got the second to last jar.  two weeks ago when i found the shop, i bought the third to last jar.  when i go back again, i expect to clean them out.  only americans buy peanut butter, tho peanuts are available…

then i went back across the rialto bridge and found the disney store, which didn’t have monopatti – kids’ scooters.  i asked where, she said ‘no se’, and i suggested maybe panorama?  she brightened, as if i wasn’t the typical stupid tourist, and agreed that it might be there…


and after that i wandered.  for the first time, i didn’t bother using the map app, but just went wherever looked interesting.  i got lots of pictures of flooded canals, and several really strange shots – like the window to someone’s apartment that had water halfway up it.


this way, and that way, over this bridge – wait, there’s a narrow alley that might go nowhere but might be really cool.


and all the time, it was raining, and cold, and my camera lens had drops on it that i couldn’t get rid of, and so never minded.  at some point i found myself in campo santa maria formosa, where i had been told i could get a house key made.  so i walked into a large hardware store, and asked them, fully expecting to get my key, but was told in rapid italian that i had to go to the other side of the campo, right near the bridge.  so i left the store, saying ‘capisco, grazie’, and actually found the store.  on teh way there was this way cool grotesque carving over a door, but when i stopped to photograph it, i found that the camera had completely fogged up while i was in the heated store.  so i took a picture with my phone, and went on.


in the store, which had all sorts of hinges and door knockers and tools, and was obviously not a place used to seeing tourists, i waited until the guy said ‘signora’, gave him my key, and paid 7 euros for a copy.  which didn’t work when i got it home, and there’s no surprise there, because it’s not the same shape as the original at all.  so i will have to go back, preferably tomorrow, and tell him ‘mi dispiace, la chiave non funziona’, and see if he won’t fix it for me.

after that, i wandered some more.  i figured i was working my way back toward the eastern end of venice, and kept seeing the lagoon in the distance.  finally i decided to follow a fundamente with a really cool bunch of flooded houses on it, and as i went up to the end to find out what part of the lagoon i had found – arsenale? – the wind picked up to gale force, the waves coursed down the length of the canal (rio di santa giustina), and i found it difficult to walk.  finally i realized that the brick wall with trees across the lagoon must be san michele in isola.  i got up to the fence that said don’t go any farther, and took pictures of the wild, bucking sea filled with whitecaps, vaporetti struggling to get thru the waves.


no way was i going to take a boat back home.  i kept walking.

when i first got off the boat, my hands were so cold that all i wanted was a cup of coffee – caffe latte con grappa – and to go to the bathroom, but after i left the main tourist drags and ventured into deepest castello, there weren’t any caffes, and when i finally found one or two, they were filled with men having their lunch drinks, and i didn’t want to go inside and be the only non italian, non venetian.  so i kept walking.  besides, coffee tastes best and is cheapest at home.

it was already close up shop and go home for lunch by the time i saw the walls of the arsenale.  i was on the clear other side of it, but the walls are unmistakable, so i knew where i was, and it was only a few minutes until i hit via garibaldi, stopped at the coop grocery store for spinach, milk, cream, and something sweet.  the sea had calmed from the gale, and it had all but stopped raining, so it was pleasant enough, but i was tired.

so, lunch, a nap, and then work on my latest painting – a flooded house on the grand canal.  i took a three hour tour today, and jim finished several working sketches for a larger painting of the carnival regatta on rio cannaregio.


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