Posted by: jeanne | February 21, 2017


on saturday i went to the airport to pick up francis, who flew in from barcelona at noon.  i also went to check what time the left luggage office opens (5am), when the first bus to the airport leaves piazzale roma (4:35am) and whether there was time to collect the luggage and get it to the ticket counter before they closed the gate (6:20 flight – there is).

but mainly i went there to collect francis.


on the way i passed a bunch of buskers in front of the train station, all playing for crowds in plain sight and sound of the next ones.  i stopped in front of this one because he was playing 3 guitars at once, pretty cool even for venice.  i gave him money.

once i picked francis up, it was necessary to by a single actv fare (8 euro) to take the bus to venice.  if you don’t buy a ticket, you risk a 60 euro fine, and the inspectors are pretty regular, and don’t want to hear any bullshit.

when we got to piazzale roma, we went to buy him a 2-day vaporetto pass for 30 euro.  it seems like a lot, but a single vaporetto fare is 8 euro, and if you are mobility-challenged, it’s a big deal to be able to get on and off the vaporettos all day.

if you are mobility challenged, you want to take careful note of where your hotel/lodgings are.  you need to know how many bridges you’re going to have to bump over with your luggage.  you’ll need to know how close to a vaporetto stop you’ll be.  you’ll want to know how many stairs you’re going to have to climb to get to your room.  if you’re assiduous with your planning, then you can arrange to be within a hundred yards of a vaporetto stop, on the ground floor, and take all your trips to museums/galleries/restaurants within the same hundred yards of a vaporetto stop.  this means museums with lifts.  this means no doge’s palace and dungeons.


we got on the vaporetto, and since this is francis’ favorite thing to do in venice, we stood on deck, in a corner where there were plenty of sturdy handholds against the shuddering, swaying, and collisons of the boat.  and then we watched venice go slowly by as we made our way to the ca’ rezzonico vaporetto stop, a hundred yards beyond which was francis’ hotel, the locanda san barnaba, which started life as a minor palazzo and has found fame as a reasonably priced, very nice hotel that caters to photography groups.


on the way i saw a costumer taking a selfie.  the epitome of something something.


this is francis’ room at the inn, a very nice double on the ground floor.  it’s not a trick of the camera, the ceiling really does slope significantly, which means the floor above also slopes.  it can be disconcerting, especially if you happen to be drunk and trying to navigate to the bathroom in the dark.  just saying.


the hotel has its own water door, as befits a sometime palazzo.  and a wonderful little courtyard where you can have a cigarette, a meal, read a book, or have a drink or a snooze.  the hotel has a bar as well as a breakfast room.


i’m always amazed at the useless warnings they offer nicotine addicts.


the first thing we did after we dumped francis’ bag in his room was to go find some food.  it was about 3pm at this point, and to our dismay (and proving our assumption), most restaurants are not open for lunch, and those that are had already closed and gone home for lunch.  but we did find a restaurant;  two, actually.  we looked into one that had a guy sitting there at the table.  we stopped at several that had a guy sitting at the table, and they all waved us off.  this particular guy told us they were closed for lunch, but directed us across the street, where there was another restaurant, a sister restaurant.  so we asked, and they said yes lunch is fine open all day!  so we went in.  our table had a nice little chalk sketch on it, and the window gave on to a private courtyard with a most interesting wellhead that was completely invisible from the street.  score.


we had two courses.  i had sarde in sour, and francis had some pasta and seafood confection, and then he had branzolini (fish) and i had pasta and mixed fish (eel, shrimp).  it was very good, not too expensive (for a restaurant.  we eat at home and spend maybe 2 euro a meal; you go to a restaurant and it’s 50 euro for the same food).

then we went back to campo san barnaba for coffee and a frittelle.  i’m afraid it was francis’ only taste of the things, because while i had intended to get him one every day, he never made it back to our house where we’d laid on a goodly supply of them against his visit.


oh well.  we had coffee, and pastry, and sat next to some german tourist who ordered a huge mug of beer.  the waiter told him, as he deliberated whether he wanted a second one, that the record was four in one hour.  we’re talking a liter and a half of beer in a giant mug.

and then the buskers came by to play for money.  we had heard them playing at a nearby outdoor restaurant before they came to us, and we heard them playing the next one down after they left us.  they’re from spain, and drilled out three or four spanish songs – the frito bandito song, guantanamera (a song about waterboarding), etc.  and francis, who lives in spain, rolled his eyes the whole time.  the girls were cute, but i agreed with him.


meanwhile, jim and connor were down on via garibaldi, taking in the parade of the 12 maries from san pietro to san marco.  everybody had on some sort of medieval / renaissance costume except for the band at the end, who were dressed more like elizabethan courtiers.  the boys had fun, and we had planned to meet at san giorgio for the nightly costume review at sunset.



a marie, perhaps named giulia, toted by altar boys

another marie, perhaps named giulia, toted by gondoliers


we all met up at san giorgio, where francis and i were a bit too late for the costumes, which were all lined up for the vaporetto back when we got there.  jim and connor had been there for awhile, and since it’s a small island, connor got to run around at will.  i spotted him standing up on a set of passarelle, talking to someone at random.  that’s what he does.


and then we came back as the light fled and the first star came out.  francis and i left the boys on the vaporetto at ca’ rezzonico, and we walked to san barnaba for dinner and a late drink.


we went looking for dinner.  we ended up at the restaurant across the street from where we ate lunch.  we tried four restaurants before this one, and each one said they were full, and maybe if we returned at 9:30 (it was 7:30) they would have space.  empty tables had reservations, and one couple who were making the rounds as we were, got taken to the last available space, so we walked to the restaurant we’d eaten at that afternoon, and saw the waiter from it at the place across the street.  he said he moves around a lot.

this time i had paparadelle with duck ragout, and he had something pasta.  we had wanted risotto, but they were out.  i couldn’t finish mine, so francis got to.

and then we had a gin and tonic and sat outside with it.  i could drink maybe an inch of it before realizing it wasn’t going to sit well with me.  then i left him heading for his hotel, and headed for my house, a ten minute walk away, down empty streets and narrow alleys, as safe as houses.


on sunday i got up before dawn and went down to san marco for the costumes.  people get up at ungodly hours and dress, then wander down to san marco before the light, because there are no tourists, and because the early morning light is somehow magical.  really, tho, because there are no tourists getting in the way and wanting to get selfies with the costumers.  the costumers are there for the professional photographers, not for the tourists.

this is what the grand canal looks like when there’s no traffic stirring up the waters

the magnificent salute in dawn’s early light.  i must have photographed it in all conditions by now

first thing in the morning, most of the costumes have their own lights.  at exactly dawn the streetlights go out, and then it depends on the quality of your camera what kind of photo you get


the moment the sun comes up, the tourists do too.  before that, it’s all business, with photographers and models exchanging cards and working the poses


and then it becomes a madhouse, and i like taking pictures of madhouses, but it’s useless to jim, who wants all these photos as references for his many venetian carnival painting


so that’s when i leave, after hanging out for an hour and a half, when it becomes tedious and boring.  but costumers are still wandering in, and i caught this one resolutely marching toward the campanile and the waterside for her turn with the cameras.


otherwise, nobody’s up except the street sweepers and garbage collectors, even on a sunday, because you wouldn’t believe the state of the garbage cans in this part of venice.


i wandered off toward home.  it was a very low tide, and you can see the bottom in this picture.  those are barnacles at the waterline.

this is what venetians think of tourists.  not a pretty sight

you see in old etchings that venice used to look a lot more like this.  a grassy verge is quite rare these days

another gargoyle type head at the side entrance to a church.  it has some meaning but i have lost the reference.  something about sin and doom


i found myself with failing batteries in the same general part of dorsoduro we’ve been exploring.  this is a real boatyard – a squero – where they build gondolas and other floating objects.  you can see the edge of the ramp below the water line on the right.  very low tide.

i’m pretty sure that’s the salute from the side

people get up early to do the laundry even on a sunday

we had spotted this graffiti a few days ago and neglected to get a picture

i was expecting francis to go to the doge’s palace in the morning, and contact me about noonish, so i went back home and went to bed.  but when i heard from him, he had not gone to the doge’s palace but somewhere else, and told me to meet him at the hotel in an hour.  he had in fact headed off to the natural history museum, and became hopelessly lost, so he simply wandered, and stopped into a great little osteria for lunch, then toddled home for a nap, as is only right and proper.

this gave me enough time to walk to strada nova from san polo, find the artist guy whose picture jim drew sometime last week, and get his card, which we had forgotten to get.  jim and connor actually braved the horrendous crowds to go find him on saturday, before going down to via garibaldi for the 12 maries parade.  but they couldn’t find him in all the buskers and face painters.

and that’s because he was wearing a fright wig, for carnival.  but i recognized him, got his card, and told him we had a plan to bring artists to venice, and needed a contact here who had contacts.

and then i realized i still had 40 minutes to go before collecting francis, and so jogged over to one of the very few irish pubs in venice and had half a pint.  a little alcohol goes a long way toward making the crowds more bearable, except for the tendency to swear at them under one’s breath…


a trip to the bathroom revealed a sure-fire way of keeping the boys from peeing on the seat…


when i got to the hotel, francis was just up after a short nap, and i tarried in the lobby and got a nice photo of a frenchwoman in costume, ready to go down to san marco to pose.


we went the other way.  the problem with some stops on the vaporetto is that boats going both ways stop there, and if you’re not careful you’ll get on going the wrong way.  this almost happened to francis, who thought it would be fine if he lingered in the back of the pontoon behind all the costumers who were going to san marco.  i got on the boat, and the sailor was casting off when i realized francis wasn’t getting on.  so there followed a lot of shouting and begging, until the sailor tied the boat back up and francis got on board.  whew.  i would have never found him again.

see our house now?  it’s the orange one in the background, and jim was inside drawing when i shot this.  i’d told him not to wait dinner for us, even tho i had fresh bread and frittelle

couldn’t resist getting a shot of these folks, taking in the sights

this is the corner of ca’ d’oro, cameo’d by the salt water


back at the irish pub, we had a couple of pints and then headed to dinner.  while we were there, actual gondoliers came by on their way home, and had whatever they were drinking.  you don’t usually get so close to these guys unless they’re trying to talk you into an 80 euro boat ride.

another cigarette pack, another graphic warning

i could never work in a bar; i detest drunks

we found a nice trattoria around the corner from the ca’ d’oro vaporetto stop, and had a lovely meal.  we shared a plate of steamed clams, and then got risotto finally, which was heavenly.  how come i can’t make it like that?

then a bar for caffe corretto (con grappa), and back on the boat to home.  i just can’t deal with these late nights filled with food and drink, so i left francis at the door, and wandered home.


on monday i met francis at  his hotel at 10, and we took the vaporetto to the bus to the airport.  along the way it grew increasingly foggy along one stretch of the grand canal, and was clear at both our starting point and by the time we got to piazzale roma.  very odd.


as i walked back to the house from the bus, i passed an interesting sight.  someone had grown old and died, and their ground floor apartment was now being renovated to either rent or sell.  all their furniture was being carted out to the street and loaded on wheeled carts, to either be taken to the dump (bedding and household junk), or resold (the chairs and paintings).  inside the apartment, i could see very old and grimy appliances and cabinets, a nice armoire, and otherwise empty rooms that someone was already laying about with a hammer.  an old neighbor was hanging out on his doorstep one door down, watching with interest at what was going to happen to his stuff in a few years.  time passes; things change; what you thought was permanent blows away on a stiff breeze.


then, horrors, as i got into my campiello i saw a distant mass of feathers on the ground, and went over to investigate.  a bird, caught on the wing by perhaps a seagull, with its head gone and nothing much else.  who would eat just a head?  omens are difficult things to come across.  karma is a bitch, and so am i.


the rest of monday, and tuesday, and wednesday, i will cover tomorrow.  on wednesday evening marie comes to spend the rest of carnival with us, and the pace will pick up considerably, as she is more determined than jim is to get carnival costumes on camera.


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