Posted by: jeanne | January 15, 2017

we’re in venice again

we arrived in venice on wednesday; it’s saturday now, so let me try to recap, tho it’s fading fast.

because of one thing and the other, we attempted to fly all the way to venice in one fell swoop.  but because of one thing and another, it involved a 24 hour travel day.  jim is approaching 80 years old, connor turned 5 years old while we were travelling.  i get migraines.  so it was a foolish task to try to cram all that travel into one solid day, but with one thing and another we didn’t have much choice.

our timing revolved around our housesitters and the weather.  we picked a great couple of housesitters to watch the house and the animals for the two months and a bit we’ll be here; they come from new hampshire, and the animals loved them right away, even smudge, who is capable of hiding for weeks at a time if he doesn’t like someone.

our housesitters could arrive only on the day before we were to leave, and so i was faced with the chance of driving to washington dc in only one day, and if it decided to snow on our route, then we would miss the plane, so in the end i added on another round trip flight, and this is what made our trip out so harrowing.  if i’d had time, i would have driven the 12 hours to dc with a day or two to spare, and would have been well rested by the time the flight to europe came around.

we showed the housesitters – jazminn and greg – around everything, i spend the last 2 days of being at home cleaning the house for them, and we got our housemate allen to drive us to the airport.  in plenty of time to have the first birthday celebration for connor, and give him the first set of travel toys i got for his birthday presents.  so far so good.

the first flight, delta airlines, from atlanta to baltimore, was swift and sure.  we were all in high spirits, and nobody but me was tired (because of course i don’t sleep the night before travelling, even tho the bags had been packed (and safely underweight) for days.  at the airport in baltimore, the nice guy pushing jim’s wheelchair dropped us off around the corner from our gate at a kid’s play place, and connor got to make a half dozen friends at the top of his lungs, while jim watched and i lay on the floor and got the first of my many naps.


our next leg was from baltimore to keflavik, because we were traveling with wow airlines.  it’s a no frills airline, so connor couldn’t watch movies all the way, but he could play with the kindle nana got him for xmas, which had a bunch of games on it.  it was a night flight, so we ate the food we’d bought at the airport (jim had chicken fingers, i had fish and chips, connor had hot wings without the hot), and went to sleep.  since it was a full moon, i woke up a number of times to look down at northern canada when the clouds permitted.  mostly the clouds went all the way up to 33,000 feet, so there was nothing to look at but cloud.

it occurred to me, watching the lights flashing on the wing, what the clouds must think of the flashing lights, the plane violating the white darkness.  it’s the first time  ever considered what clouds must be thinking.  i was intrigued by the concept.  i find when traveling that i see things very differently from normal.  each place on the planet engenders a different perception, a different insight into the way the world works.  it’s a strange and magical place, our planet, and during the flight i was enchanted to think that every part of it is alive and conscious.  even the insides of the clouds.

we landed in keflavik, iceland at 5 in the morning; dark this time of year.  it was a surprise to see the full moon; we never noticed it while flying, but only when we banked for the approach to the airport.


keflavik airport was somewhat of a blur.  passport control had a definitely non-icelandic type (black hair) checking our luggage.  i had to show ownership of connor, and she insisted on having him stand back where she could see him and compare him with his passport.  but she let us thru with a smile, because everyone loves connor.  our luggage was checked thru to paris, as it was a ‘via’ flight, but we had only an hour between flights, so it was perhaps a mad rush to the gate – i forget at this point.  jim being in a wheelchair, we piled all the carryons on his lap while in transit, but once we started to board, i had to carry all three backpacks.  connor complained bitterly whenever i asked him to carry anything, so after atlanta i just gave up.  but we were soon on the flight to paris, and we all fell asleep as soon as possible and slept as much as possible until we got mostly there.


i remember looking out at one point and seeing the dawn prism on the horizon – it goes burnt red at the horizon, and rainbows thru the yellows and greens all the way to the blue of the sky, and to black.  i love seeing this every time i’m on a night flight.  it’s as if the edge of the earth was made of cut glass.  i noticed that we were flying over england later, only because i woke up and looked out right before we crossed the channel.  it might have been wales; all i could see was hills, trees, and patchy fields.


once we landed in france we seemed to be done with passport control.  we might have had our passports stamped, but i don’t even remember.  at that point i was developing a migraine from carrying all the backpacks on and off the plane (narrow aisles, bump bump bump bump).  we were wheeled to get our luggage (charles de gaul airport has these moving walkways that go down like escalators, but remain stepless and flat, so you can roll a wheelchair right onto the ramps.  connor was impressed.  so was i…

we had a three hour wait at paris, so we went to the gate and settled in.  we were waiting for an air france flight, and tho air france seems to be part of delta whenever we take it from the states, in france it’s the national carrier, and their english is read very rapidly off a card and is completely incomprehensible.  we thought it was funny.  at this point my migraine was getting serious, so i sat there rubbing my neck while jim wandered off for a coffee (and found a starbucks cleverly disguised as a french cafe (or we would never have patronized it – charbucks).  connor had the rest of his presents (a bunch of avenger mini figures) and proceeded to make friends with this nice italian guy who was completely charmed by him.  when jim came back i went off to the edge of the departure area and lay on the carpet to take a nap and rub my neck, and do some meditation things that work to relax my muscles.  i would have felt self conscious about doing that in a french airport, but there was this old guy sound asleep on a bench right next to me, so i figured it must be okay.  i would have done it anyway; usually it’s the young ones who camp out waiting for a plane, but if the old guys were in on it, it must be fine…


an hour later my headache had receded and i could finally think about eating the food we’d bought for the second leg of the wow airlines flight.  i went off and found the same disguised charbucks, got some cafe au lait, told them my name and was gratified to hear them say it back in french (and not mistake me for i dream of jeannie).  and by the time i’d finished my coffee we were ready to board.  so cool.


again, we slept most of the way to venice on the plane.  it was rainy all thru france, with thick puffy clumps of clouds completely covering the ground, right up until the edge of the alps, when it broke up.  in my experience the weather is all on the west side of the alps, and this side of italy almost never gets the rain and snow everybody else in europe is subject to.  once we came over the alps, the sun was starting to set, and the light was magnificent, shining on the sides of the mountains, which rolled on forever toward the sunset.  i got pictures.


and then we landed in venice.  that’s five airports, four flights, and 24 hours of travel.  we got our bags, no passport control again.  i guess once we were in europe (iceland), they just accepted that we were okay to travel.  i would have liked lots of stamps in connor’s passport, but not having to go thru it every time was a relief.  we got out, got our luggage (one thing about being the last people off the plane is that everyone else has gotten their luggage and left by the time you get to baggage claim), and made it to the ticket machine for the bus to venice.

and my credit card didn’t work. i’d created a pin a few days before, and no matter what i did the machine said invalid pin.  these nice ticket inspectors came along and helped us, but nothing doing until i switched to the debit card, which worked fine.  so we were on the bus to venice, traveling thru the darkness, talking to the nice ticket inspectors, who were very friendly.  they asked what we thought of the current political situation in the states, and i gave a rather graphic answer they appreciated; they commiserated and said that italy didn’t even have a government at the moment, and we agreed that maybe we don’t really need governments, not if they’re just going to make themselves rich at the peoples’ expense…

one of the inspectors lives in choggia, and highly recommended it, showing me pictures on her cellphone – very pretty.  i had been considering it, and since she went to the trouble of telling me how to get there and what to see, we will more than likely go there later in our stay.  they were wonderful; i hope we see them again tho it’s not very likely.

finally we arived at piazale roma, where the cars stop and the pedestrian streets begin.  we rolled the luggage over to the hello venezia store and recharged the transit passes we got last time we were here, and then it was onto a vaporetto for the ride to our stop.

connor still didn’t remember being in venice two years ago; small wonder, he was only 3 at the time.  we kept reminding him – see, the water, see, the istrian stone lining the edges of the canals (don’t cross that line), see, the palazzos.  we didn’t mind.  i settled the boys in the cabin and went back outside to stand on deck and watch everything go by.  i never stay in the cabin on a vaporetto; i always stand around on deck with my hands in my pockets and my hood up against the wind.

i’d totally forgotten how many stops it was to our stop, and jim thought it was pretty close, but we had to pass rialto market, and rialto bridge, and three or four stops after that but before the big bend in the canal.  i noticed a few different shops – there’s a grocery store just this side of the rialto bridge now, there’s scaffolding up on different buildings.  it was cold out, and windy, but i was very happy to be scanning the buildings and looking at compositions of things i want to paint.  the moon was out, too: beautiful.


then we were to san toma’ and out with our luggage (one big rolly bag, one small one, both weighing almost 50 lbs, and 3 backpacks).  i knew the way; there are only a few ways to where we were going, and we figured out the way last time we were here.  there was the cool alley with the pozzo (well head), there was the print shop with the faded photo of the campanile falling, there was the carlo goldoni house and our first bridge.  then a narrow street with a few turns in it, and the second bridge.  we stopped to look into the window of an osteria restaurant on the bridge, and by the time i had schlepped the luggage across, jim and connor were being greeted by our rental agents, a nice pair of women who led us the short way to our house, down an alley around the side of campo san polo.

they led us upstairs and showed us everything; i logged on and finished paying them the rent with paypal, jim gave them the cash we’d brought to keep the paypal fees down, and they gave us the keys and marked a bunch of places (stores, restaurants) on the map they left with us, and they were gone.

immediately afterwards we marched back to the restaurant we had seen.  the waiters wanted us to do the catch of the day, a nice sea bream with potatos, but we said how not hungry we were, and got a plate of lasagna that we split three ways, and a bowl of soup that burned my tongue and was almost too much to finish.  and then we toddled back to the apartment and put ourselves to bed.

a very long day.

next post, our first couple of days in venice, and SNOW!



  1. Excellent account. Look forward to seeing you!


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