Posted by: jeanne | April 13, 2015

coming home from venice

i did a lot of walking around looking at the house saturday, trying to budget the time it would take to clean it thoroughly.  the bathroom would take a good hour, the kitchen longer.  then scrubbing all the tile floors, wiping grubby fingerprints off all the furniture, and the mirrors, and the windows, and the doors.  there were some daffodil bulbs to be planted in the back garden.  i had to wash out the refrigerator.  i didn’t get to the outside of the windows, but got jim to wash the insides and all the mirrors, except where he sort of forgot to finish them.

then i took out the reference photos and sorted everything back where it was in the beginning – all the table covers, all the cute little breakables – moved all the furniture back into its former location, rearranged the kitchen back the way it was, washed the walls where connor’s fingerprints can be seen, stripped the beds and aired out the quilts.  readied a bunch of trash and recyclables to go out first thing monday morning.

sunday turned out to be the day from hell, as a simple trip with the large bags to deposit them in baggage storage went wrong.


it started out reminiscent of when we first arrived; within a day or two after we got to venice, there was a thick fog, and the vaporettos all had to use foghorns and radar.  so it was on sunday.  really pretty.


the fog looked like it would lift eventually; there was no ceiling, and as we passed the salute, we could see blue sky.  it shows up better on the camera; all i could see was sunlight hitting the church.  because it was so foggy, the vaporetto – the number 4.1 – went up the grand canal instead of around the giudecca canal.  but it didn’t stop anywhere but accademia, so we got there in the time it usually takes the expresses:  half an hour.  and the whole way there i was talking to a neighbor from sant’elena, who told me a lot about our little island.  sant’elena was filled in during the 20s, i knew that, but it was built as affordable housing for all the soldiers from ww1 who didn’t want to return to the south of italy, which at that time was mired in deepest poverty.  so they shipped in a whole lot of landfill from the big fire on murano, which was toxic, and why there are hotspots in the floors of the houses – ours included.  and then they built all these houses, most of which quickly passed to civil servants and various unscrupulous types.  he pulled down one eyebrow in the italian gesture for corruption.  it was good to get this history; i’d been trying to find out about where we lived, but it’s impossible in english on the internet.


we got to piazzale roma just as our bus to the airport was pulling away, and there was a 20 minute wait for the next one, so we left jim with the luggage and i took connor away from the nasty bad street where there were cars and busses.


so he played at the same little cafe where francis and i had something to eat after he got off the plane.  but the bus was soon there, so i bundled all the heavy 50 lb suitcases into the back of the bus, between two facing seats.  and we holed up there until we got to the airport.


unfortunately, i had neglected to bring the passports, and the guy at the left luggage building wouldn’t take our luggage without passports, so i had to leave jim in the airport, watching the luggage, while connor and i returned home for the passports – a three hour tour.  poor jim.


so we got back on the bus, connor and i.  it was relatively uncrowded when we first started.  note the robert downey lookalike in the seat to the right.  the bus got more and more crowded as we grew closer to venice, and by the end of the trip it wasn’t even standing room only.  people had to pass their transit passes over others’ heads and get strangers to validate them on the machines.


on the vaporetto back to sant’elena we saw some boat crews out doing what they do, practicing for some regatta.  it was still a bit foggy, but it was getting better all the time.


i happened to look at my cruise ship app for that last scheduled one of our trip, and saw it just rounding san giorgio on the map.  we were sitting on the back deck of the vaporetto, so i got out my camera just in time, and took this movie.


then back at the house, we had a few moments before the vaporetto going back to piazzale roma, so we both peed, i unwrapped my heavy scarf and took up my sunglasses, and made three sandwiches to take back to the airport.  connor played with the chain on the vaporetto float until someone clucked their tongue at us.


back at piazzale roma with connor, waiting for the bus back to the airport.  we arrived, rescued jim, who hadn’t moved in three hours, let him go pee, walked out to the baggage drop building, gave them a passport (connor’s, as it turned out), and went back to wait for the bus back to venice, eating our sandwiches in the sunshine.


on the bus back, sitting where robert downey sat, noticing the same piece of trash on the floor as on our first bus, we got an eyefull of this couple.  you probably can’t see it in this photo, but the woman is way dressed, dripping with jewels, toting a botega veneta handbag worth several thousand dollars.  she’s bitching and complaining and suggesting things to her husband, who is dressed in old, plain clothes, and tries to ignore her as best he can.  both jim and i were amused.  appalled, really.


it was a very low tide that day, and we passed the mud flats that are the venice lagoon.  we could see tracks from boats that had scraped the bottom.  no wonder venice didn’t need walls to protect it.


connor was fascinated by the train running parallel down the causeway.  we’d been on a boat and a bus, and gone to the planes, but hadn’t been on a train, and wouldn’t be getting on one.  i don’t think he was overly disappointed.


then we were at piazzale roma, ready to go back home and finish cleaning (and take naps).


but i passed a chinese shop on the waterfront just outside the vaporetto stop, and noticed these lovely tops partly made of silk.  jim encouraged me to go in and try them on, and i ended up getting one; my souvenir of venice.  that and all the scarves i bought myself.


i’d passed this bridge on the vaporetto 3 times, and finally got a photo of the various water levels and their characteristic stains.  it was a very low tide, and these things aren’t visible otherwise.


poor connor had had enough by this time, and really needed his nap and a last session on the playground.


but i wasn’t tired of taking pictures, so i stood outside and did so as we went home.


unfortunately, while putting stuff back on the shelves in the living room, a shelf collapsed, and i broke these two beautiful items, and told the landlord immediately.  maybe we’ll have to pay for them; maybe not.  we’ve been good tenants, and even replaced the glassware we broke, but this is different.  the glass on the left was particularly lovely.


our last sunset in venice; we sat out and watched it, as we had the one before.  everybody was out taking pictures of it, or sitting on the benches watching it.  it’s like what i hear about key west.  only this is more prosaic.


we’ll be making a painting of this sunset real soon now.


monday dawned bright and chipper, and i hadn’t gotten much sleep at all, as is usual the night before i travel.  everything in the house was put back the way we found it, all the floors were clean, all the beds were stripped, all the food was tossed or gifted to the landlord.  i took photos on our way out, just to have a record of it, and sent the landlord a last email detailing what i’d done and thanking him for being such a nice guy.

and then we were down to the vaporetto stop with our hand luggage and something to munch on in a plastic bag that jim stuffed into his jacket.


the paradiso bar was in great shape, with the wisteria finally in full bloom.  i was hoping it would be before we left.


the sun was out; the color was glorious.  it was 8 in the morning.


too early for anything but glare on the water, but the gondoliers were busy already, because venice in the spring.


see, everybody’s dressed to travel, with connor in his shirt and vest, black pants and black shoes.  the luggage was more manageable on our second trip to the airport.  we couldn’t have done it without using the left luggage scheme.

when we got to the airport, they told us that the flight was totally full, and would we consider checking out carryon bags?  so we did, which was too bad because that’s where connor’s travel diaper was, but he did okay and we took him off to the bathroom every time he announced he had to pee.


and here we are waiting at the gate for our flight to be called.  connor is unhappy because i wouldn’t allow him to bother the gate agent with his captain america.


taking off over venice, we passed what the city must have looked like in the beginning, with water channels thru the muck, and little circular lakes in the middle of the mud.


then we began to go over the alps.  you can see little switchback roads at the bottom of the picture if you look hard enough.


soon we were over mountains with snow on them; the same ones we’d seen from venice on really clear days, all winter long.


for awhile it got very snowy, and then it tapered off as we got into austria, and soon the clouds came over, and there was just scattered views of the ground.


it was a two hour flight to amsterdam, and as we approached i saw these gigantic windmills turning leisurely by the side of the road.


we had three hours in amsterdam; we were expecting to be able to visit the rijksmuseum’s permanent exhibit there, but it was closed, and the area was under construction.  so we walked back to the baby area, where we were told kids could play, but when we got there we discovered it was cribs only.  so there’s connor, eyeing all the sleeping passengers curled up in these freeform chairs that looked really comfortable.  they were all full, however, so we went to the gate, ate our sandwiches, and let connor run around bothering the other passengers at will.  until he started asking them for food, that is.


there was a family travelling home; the dad had 6 passports in his hand, and announced to us that he and his wife had been flagged, and were going to have to go thru security hell.  the only reason he could think of was that as a rule, the family didn’t ever do checked luggage, and this was somehow suspicious to the security guys.  poor bastard.


on the plane we had a row to ourselves, which was good, because that meant connor didn’t get out and run screaming thru the aisled.  i was being sick after dinner, and jim was tired and dozing, so connor had to content himself with the first 20 minutes of about a dozen kids’ movies, bothering me to change them when he got bored.


tulip fields outside of amsterdam, if you look closely at the color – yellow, red, pink, purple.


in the middle of the atlantic, icebergs.  don’t know how large the slivers of ice are, but from 30,000 feet they must be large to be visible at all.


near newfoundland, ice floes – sea ice in great rivers, coming down from the arctic like it does every spring.  many patches were gray and melting, and you could tell it was on the water because of the wavelike formation of the ice.  snow covered ground looks different.


near the shore, the ice was much thicker, and every once in a while there was what looked like a shadow.  but i figured it out; it was an iceberg surrounded by pack ice, and the wind would push the berg thru the ice, leaving a wake of dark water.  wow.


it was raining in atlanta as we approached, so there were some spectacular views of the clouds as we descended thru them.


and finally we were going thru the clouds, and every now and then would spring out into the open air, into the setting sun.  the vapor was so hefty that the wing generated contrails, which is what you might be able to see in the picture.

we got in at 8 in the evening (2 am in venice), and connor had finally fallen asleep as we were descending.  so we were the last ones off the plane, and the flight attendant had to carry him to the door, where we snagged a wheelchair, put him into it, surrounded him with our hand luggage, and went off to passport control and customs.

and because we were using a wheelchair, we got shunted to the top of the line every time, and people were very nice to us, and connor woke up gradually and refused to look into the camera, so they made allowances for him and waved us on.  hint:  always call for a wheelchair on long flights.

mike was there with the truck when we got out of customs, and we went home.  the air was stickier and warmer than in venice, there were cars, it was wet out.  but allison had changed the sheets on our bed, allen had walked the dogs, and we were back.

so that’s three months’ worth of blog posts for you.  i won’t be updating this blog much at all until the next time we go somewhere, which will be soon if we can manage it.  thanks for reading; i hope you’ve been entertained, and / or found whatever information you were looking for about venice.

arrivederci venezia.


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