Posted by: jeanne | February 19, 2018

a few days in venice with the boys

Here we are at the airport, waiting for our flight.  The plane itself is approaching the airport, and it’s sort of mainly on time.  Well, half an hour late. But we’re sitting here anyway.  The boys are currently bothering a young woman entranced enough to say something to them, and now Avery is going on and on about his earphones.  She’s going to have to be rude to disengage.   Problem solved, everybody’s whipped out their devices and now they’re all quiet.  There’s nice turkish music on the speakers, and I can smell incense, everybody’s laid back and it’s a new moon kind of day, with everybody feeling pretty good and ready for adventure.  Lots of smiles for the boys.

I’ve been waiting for something to go wrong for days.  I mean, things did actually go wrong, with the name on the passport not matching the ticket, and my visa not matching my passport, and the very large chance that we might miss the connection and lose a day in venice – I’ve spent sleepless nights worrying and planning for that.



The incoming flight is on final approach; there’s an hour until our scheduled boarding time.  We’ll see how this works.  Our flight tonight is supposed to go the great circle route from Atlanta, going up the coast to newfoundland, then across well south of iceland, across Ireland and England, then skipping around the Alps, right over the Balkans, and on to Istantbul.  It’s supposed to take 10 hours.  They’re going to feed us three times.



the Balkans

Okay, we’ve just spent 10 hours on a plane.  Connor sat beside me, and Avery stayed in the row behind us.  They were good.  And fell asleep right after dinner.  We got off an hour late, which seems to be standard for this flight.  I puzzled about it for a week, and then discovered that it’s always late because the flight from Istanbul to Atlanta is always late.  But since there was nothing I could do, I didn’t worry about it.

Turkish airlines gives out a lot of pluses.  It’s the way airlines used to be.  There was a set of headphones on the seat (not just ear buds).  There was a blanket and pillow.  And then they passed out eyeshades, a toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, house shoes.  And after that they came back with stuffed animals for the boys.  Also, they don’t charge for drinks, even in coach, so I had a beer, but could have had whisky, vodka, or raki if i’d wanted it.  We learned how to say hello in turkish – merhaba – and the kids delighted the cabin crew with it.  The food was great.  And they serve starting at the back, which was great for us, because we always sit in the back.  The kid meal was a nice baked penne with chicken, a bowl of lentil salad, a bowl of raw veggies, a bowl of fresh fruit salad, a roll, milk, juice, a candy bar, and cookies.  I had a ravioli dish with vegetables, a bowl of eggplant, chicken, and babaganoush, another bowl of something else appetizing; I forget at this point.

Then there were lots of movies and video games (platformers and challenges), but nothing I wanted to watch or play, so I read my novel.  And slept.  Sort of dozed.  Connor was out, and so was Avery, but I kept surfacing, not all that comfortable in the tiny seats that pass for steerage class these days.  Breakfast was overwhelming.  I couldn’t eat the scrambled eggs or fried vegetables, but ate up the yogurt, the cottage cheese and fruit, the fruit and cheese in bowls.  Connor ate his kid meal, starting with the fruit and yogurt, and actually picking all the eggs out of his plate.


when allowed, Connor uses all available media

So, no trouble.  We got to the airport, parked on the tarmac and had to take a shuttle.  But the minute we got into the hall, some guy was yelling about Roma and Venice, so I spoke up, and he shunted us to the front of the line and told us to go upstairs.  That was good. But then our gate was listed as a 20 minute walk, and that was bad.  Connor realized he had to go to the bathroom, but tough.  We walked at top speed, and used the moving sidewalks (the boys loved that), and when we got to the gate and they were still loading,  I sent the boys to the bathroom and got in line.  Of course they played around in there, and I had to let lots of people go in front, but I didn’t care.  As long as we were in line, we were going to Venice.


So all the worrying about what to do if we missed the connecting flight was in vain. we’re in the air now, on the way to Venice, and the sun is going down.  It’s still 9:30am at home, but here it’s 5:30pm.  The boys are lively, sitting in the seat in front of me, playing video games and watching movies at the same time.  And omg they just served dinner.  The boys got spaghetti and meatballs, I had a lovely chicken curry, with salad, a roll, and dessert.  And now i’m tired, so i’m thinking I’ll continue this once we reach our apartmentlet in Venice.


waiting for the bus to Venice

on the vaporetto; Avery was freezing

so i put them inside until they started getting out of hand

Okay. it’s monday morning now, and we’ve been in venice for a day. Unfortunately, I ended up with a migraine, as I often do when I have to lug heavy bags on my shoulders. So yesterday, when we should have been up and messing around, we hung out at our little flatlet.

I say flatlet, apartmentlet, only because it’s a small bedsit.  The bedliving room is about 10’ square, and the kitchen/bathroom is 6×8 each.  We’re on the ground floor (which means rising damp), there are two small windows, good for letting light in, bad for getting a phone signal.  I found it on airbnb, and it’s by far the cheapest place in venice, and there’s a reason for that.  So we can deal with squinchy.  It’s big enough for me and the boys for four days.  There’s everything we need, except for wifi.  Somehow I managed to miss that.  So i’m relying on a hotspot on my phone.  And I can’t get reception here in the building, so i’m writing this offline, and will find someplace with wifi later on.

I left the kids sleeping Sunday.  Connor was up, and I made sure they wouldn’t leave the flat, and left them there with some croissants and milk.  I made the journey to Rialto, to the vodafone store, so I could get a sim card for my phone.  To help ease my headache, I walked from san toma to rialto, about ten minutes.  This was our route back home when we stayed in san polo just a year ago.  But because I had a migraine, I had no love for beauty, no head for sounds, and smells offended me.  So it was exercise only, and not much of a reunion.  And, they wanted to see my passport, and of course I had forgotten that little detail, so no go.  So I walked over the Rialto bridge, and made my way to the san marco vaporetto stop.  I had no phone, so couldn’t pull up a map, but I didn’t need one anymore.  I know this part of Venice.

When I got back I was in tatters, so I crawled up onto the top bunk – Avery’s bed – and went to sleep for several hours.  The boys were fine.  They played on their devices, and played with the toys they brought, and colored in the coloring books.  When I got up, it was 4pm, so we got dressed, got on the vaporetto, and went back to the San Toma’ stop.  I don’t think connor ever once remembered where he was, because he didn’t pause at the turning to our old house.

When we arrived Saturday night, it was already dark.  Just in case, we went to the Coop grocery store at the Piazzale Roma.  We got milk, packaged croissants, coffee, cream, orange juice.  And then we saw our friend from the San Polo Coop store manning the register. His name is Pasquale and he remembered me first and then looked for Connor.  It was very nice to see him, and we talked in broken English for a few moments.  Some of my horrendous Italian cut back in and I was glad to understand some of what he said.  We took the bus from the airport, and got our vaporetto passes, and got on a number 1. I made the boys sit up front in the seats with me, all our luggage piled at a corner of the gangway. But within a couple of minutes Avery started complaining about the cold, and not looking at the sights, so I sent them into the back to sit down.  They sat on facing seats, and started messing around, and when I caught them doing slow motion fist fighting, I made them come back outside with me.  So the first vaporetto ride, the introduction to Venice, was not a success.



The second time we did it was far better. Avery stood outside and looked at everything, and beamed, saying it was awesome. And that was good. But then he started asking about how long the boat ride was going to be, and complaining about the wind. they’re rebuilding the Accademia bridge, I noticed as we passed under it.


We got off at San Toma’ and made our way to the fritelle store.  They don’t have fritelle now, because carnival is over and they’re selling ice cream at the moment, but they still have pizza.  The guy who makes the pizza saw me first, and looked like he recognized me, but then he saw Connor, and he brightened way up.  The boys got pizza, and I still couldn’t think about food, so I just smiled.  When it came time to pay, I realized I had no money, so they let me skate until tomorrow.

And then I couldn’t find a working cash machine, so we walked on to the vodafone store, I got my sim card (and had to duck outside when it got too damned hot and I started dry heaving again), and we walked back using much the same route as before, and took a vaporetto back to Sant’Elena.


This time, when we went to the restaurant for pizza, we were too early.  The night before, we were too late and thank god I had thought to buy frozen pizza at the Coop store.  We paid for a pizza and then went back to the flatlet, set the alarm, and I napped while the boys played.  An hour later, we went to get the pizza.  I still had a raging headache, so ate nothing, and the boys filled themselves up and we went to bed at 9.

This morning I feel much better.  I finally had the cup of coffee I made yesterday, and the boys have eaten the half of one croissant we still had, and we’re about to go out the door for the day.  After Avery gets out of bed.  Connor’s coloring, and i’m writing this, and he’s still trying to sleep.  But never mind that.  We left the house at around 9, and didn’t come back to it until 3.  And we walked practically the whole way.  Avery didn’t want to take the vaporetto because of the wind, so we walked to every playground between here and there.

hey marie, look who copied your dress

We walked to Riva Schiavoni, where Avery decided he needed a hat, so we got him one, and one for his dad, and one for Connor.  Because it’s shopping day.


We made it to San Marco, but they’ve got a new rule where you can’t take backpacks in.  I guess people got tired of being hit by swinging backpacks full of rocks.  So we had to go around the corner to the church of San Basso, which is now a left luggage place.  OK.  So I left the boys on the lions on the side of San Marco, and came back to get pictures of them.

a tiled floor.  tumbling blocks

And then we walked some more.  We managed our way to Rialto, and went up to the top of Fundaco Tedeschi to look out over the city.  Avery was very interested in everything I had to show him, which is very gratifying.

Avery took a billion photos with his phone


Then we walked up to Strada Nova and stopped at a pastry shop.  The boys got pastries with custard and strawberries, and I got a strudel, and a caffe latte with grappa.

he’s only pretending not to like it

IMG_1669IMG_1675IMG_1677IMG_1680look grandpa, it’s you

After that, we made our way to Piazzale Roma, so I could show the boys the glass bridge, and we crossed over to the little playground so they could have some more fun.

the marble is very slippery, and Connor loved showing Avery how to get to the top


Then we went to the fritelle store to pay our bill from last night, and this time we all got pizzas.  And who should show up but Michaela.  She recognized me right away, and then saw connor, and it was like time stopped.  She knelt down next to him for a big hug, and asked if he remembered her, and he said no!  So she showed him the picture she took last year, and he still didn’t remember.  But we’ll be back tomorrow, and he’ll be as nice to her as he ever was.  Big hugs.


We walked some more, but only to the vaporetto at San Toma’, and then I parked the boys in seats and went to the back, because I don’t like being inside when I can stand out in the wind.  Besides, it was a full vaporetto, and only got more crowded as the trip went on.  In the end, we couldn’t get out at the Arsenale stop because it was so crowded, and had to elbow our way to the front to get off at Giardini.


But we finally got off, and made our way back to Via Garibaldi so we could get something from the Coop store – spaghetti, sauce, more croissants, more milk.


What an interesting thing to find.  Something from the Bienale, no doubt.  We got a picture of all of us reflected in the sides of the thing.  Tho to be honest I can’t find us in there at all.

our favorite statue

connor’s favorite statue, tho he doesn’t remember

After a short nap, while the kids played on their devices, we went back out to play on the playground.  I was surprised to find no other kids there; the vaporetto had been full of them getting out of school, and so we expected to see them everywhere on the playground.  Oh well.  Avery spent the entire time on the zip line, and Connor got to do it a few times, but he’s still a bit short to make it to the platform.


He did manage to fall between the ropes after I reminded him how hard it all was for him when we first came to Venice.


Tomorrow is our last day in Venice.  We still have to go to the t-shirt store, take a traghetto ride, go to the candy store for my menta fernet candies (medicinal), go back to the fritelle store, make it to the bar next to the boat yard.  I think we can do it all, it’s not supposed to rain.  The boys have given me big hugs and thanked me for bringing them to Venice, so I’m as happy as I can be.

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