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bridges and umbrellas

It’s raining in Venice. But I don’t mind. Its beautiful in the rain.

I’ve always loved being near water and it really is everywhere here. Especially right now. Lamps dotted on bridges reflect golden stars from rain-coated cobbles. The time worn slabs laid across every Campo show off a glaze that krispy kreme doughnuts would be jealous of. The tide is high. Apparently this is not a regular thing. It might happen once a year. There can’t be many places where quiet waves lap up onto something other than beach. Even as I write, water is cheekily teasing the pavement outside Ostello Venezia.

Even the umbrellas in Venice are stylish! All old fashioned curved cane handles and a sharp five inches piquing the top (you could definitely do some damage). Some have tasteful fringes of colour around the outside circumferance. There’s been something charmingly Jack Vettriano to the view today.

The extra water does, however, screw up the Vaporetti lines. As Emma and I found out this morning, when we arrived tired and dry eyed from the airport after a 3.20am start to the day. The lady at the on the Bigletti desk could not have had a face look more like a smacked bum. Like seriously, unless her entire extended family had just died in some sort of incongurous but avoidable tragedy there really is no excuse for being that bitter faced. Needless to say, my fledgling attempts at Italian were not appreciated, so I just gave up and shoved the gmail print off under the window of the counter. Imagine having the audacity to ask for a Vaporetti ticket from the Vaporetti counter?! I’m convinced that there is probably a coat of dalmation puppies’ pelts under her counter somewhere.

It would have been all very straight forward, had all the lines being running. But it was obvious that something was not running somewhere, and I’ll be damned if we could work out which were and which weren’t and what stopped where and when, and what the alternative options might be. As it was, we spent a good few minutes staring fairly blankly at half a dozen floating jetty’s as if they would somehow surrender the answer if we just looked at them hard enough, before asking someone who looked like he knew the deal. He did. Unfortunately however, random names and illogically organised information rarely stick around in my brain for very long (Emma’s neither it seems!) and we forget our new plan of action immediately after being told what it should be.

Thankfully, French-Italian Fabio “-it-doesn’t-cost-anything-to-help-somebody” materialises to reset the off-kilter karma caused by the dalmation killer, and tells us that we are indeed waiting for the right Vaporetti, explains about the high tides (currently 8cm higher than the ideal), treats us to an impromtu guided tour of the Grand Canal (“this here is Pescheria (fish market)”; “look, the Ponte Di Rialto (Rialto bridge)”) and recommends that we buy “the long shoes” (aka welly boots; yellow please!) as “walking is certainly the best way to see Venice”. He tells our flame haired Emma that he’s visited her native Ireland “but not Belfast”, and would like to head for Scotland next, although maybe it rains too much for him (!). I tell him that my sister lives on the Island of Jura there. Very different to here as “she probably has a car” (well…yes). Not so here; “you cannot have a car”. Which is tricky by all accounts. Especially when all your food comes from the mainland and your children live in a magical place where stop, look and listen for cars is not a neccesity for survival.

Clearly, we deserved more than a little karma re-balancing act: having disembarked with our bags in tow at Zidelle on Giudecca Island a nice lady starts spouting in friendly Italian. Startled I search for “non capiche” but it escapes me and we just shrug hopelessly. She points at our bags:
“OS-TEL-LO” point point…something else…points at our bags…points again..smiles…walks off. My brain and tongue reconnect:
“Grazia mille” I call after her and we tromp down to the hostel, skirting around the pockets of overlapping canal.

Venice is magical. Even more so in the rain with those characterful umbrellas adorning the bridges and waterfronts. We lost outselves in icecream earlier: coconut and pistachio for me, coconut and nuciolla chioccolata for Em. Somehow we strolled to the Fondemente Nuove side of the island (did you know there are more than 100 islets, 400 bridges and millions of wooden stakes supporting this floating artists haven?!). The Celestia Vaporetti finishes at 20.23; just so you know. We realise we need to get back to the San Marco side and head off, confident that our internal compasses are in tact.

Apparently not. 25 minutes we happen upon Campo della Celestia:
“Em, do you think that means we’re back at the Celestia Vaporetti stop?!”
“No!”. Erm.


My thoughts stray to Owen Wilson and ‘Midnight in Paris’ just for a moment.

Okay, time to engage the residual map reading skills. We make it back to where we were and realise that the icecream shop was literally an lcd-city-souvenir-blue-lit-ball’s throw from where we were. I blame the coconut.

We track down the right water-bus and surrender our tired limbs to the plastic seats. First stop.
“Where are we now?” Emma murmers.
“erm..” I squint out; “Zidelle – shit! Go go go!”.

The (less miserable than dalmation-murderer, but only a beat) skipper-lady tosses the rope over a post, re-anchoring us to Guidecca Island just long enough to to hop off and avoid what could have potentially been a very long walk home. Somehow though, I don’t think it wouldn’t have mattered. Being lost in Venice is a treat, full of bridges, umbrellas and coconut icecream.

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