Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day One- Proseco and White Wine

After finally arriving in Italy after three dreadful plane connections we are finally here. It feels like 4 am to me but here in Italy, it is just the beginning of the day. The plane from JFK to Frankfort was actually the best of the 3. The Plane was a huge Lufansa aircraft that featured TV’s in the back of every seat even in coach (all though Darryl’s up in First class was much bigger). On this plane I watched half of season 4 of Dexter, which was one of the many show options available on the TV.  I did this whilst playing on my computer the whole time, which was plugged into an outlet, An outlet! The plane had freaking outlets! The time went very fast and soon I was in Germany. From Germany we flew to Venice Marco Polo, this was the worst stretch of the trip because I walk down the isle to my seat, 25A to find a toddler sitting in my assigned seat, great…I think to myself. The parents pick up the kid to let me into my seat and the kid immediately begins screaming like a Velociraptor…this is going to be a fun 2 hour flight. Somehow two hours later I arrive in Italy and my mood is much brighter, It may have been those two jack and cokes I had on the plane. We leave the airport and hail a cabdriver who drives 140km/hour weaving through cars like a madman…of course my seatbelt is not functioning. We arrive in Venice and take a boat to our hotel.  To get from where the boat drops us off to our hotel we had to lug our bags up and over a huge bridge called the Rialto- one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal. I am carrying my laptop bag, my camera, Darryl’s camera bag and my 50lbs suitcase. We get to the hotel to find out we are getting upgraded to the newer hotel, back across the Rialto that we just lugged our suitcases over and another few blocks away….Not to worry we are told by the hotel concierge who speaks very broken English…her “associate” is on the way to help us with our bags. Darryl’s bag was 8lbs over at the airport so his bag is 58lbs. I add the total weight of all our bags up in my head and it is over 160lbs. Not to worry the “associate” is here. The associate the concierge sent was just short of a midget, he could not of been more than 100lbs himself. He loaded all of our luggage on a dolly and we were off. It was painful to watch as he lugged our suitcases back over the Rialto and over about 3 more bridges…Venice has a lot of bridges. At every bridge I offered him a hand with our bags but the boy denied, probably some sort of hotel policy. At some points I thought going down the bridge that our luggage was going to pull the kid down with him because he had to put his entire body weight against the dolly on each step down, I gritted my teeth closed my eyes. We got to our new hotel safely and they showed us to our rooms. The rooms came with a complimentary bottle of proseco- a type of Italian champagne. The three of us went through the proseco in a short amount of time and it was off to dinner at the Cipriani. We stopped for some white wine on the way, then got on a boat in San Marco square which would take us to the Island of Giudecca. We ate dinner overlooking the lagoon back at Venice as the sun went down, the sound of the water rhythmically splashing against the dock below us, it was quite relaxing. We finished dinner and took the boat back to Venice, it was dark and we were drunk. We got back to the piazza de San Marco to find it flooded, it was high tide and the water was covering half of the square. Darryl told me that he has been to Venice when the water was a lot higher, all the stores actually put a piece of wood down by the door to keep the water out and that you have to step over it to get in, Venice is sinking and if you live here you deal with it. Venice aka The Floating City, City of Bridges, or the City of Canals is a large city of stone and marble buildings built atop a bunch of wooden posts in a muddy lagoon-what a great idea. I eventually located our hotel after about 20 minutes of us wandering around in the dark, it is very easy to get lost here especially at night. It was about time to retire but not before another bottle of white wine. Their wine here is much better here without the added sulfite...all in all it was a great first day!

Dexter on Plane:


Monday, May 30, 2011

Day Two- Every other Year

Today on our schedule is the Venice Biennale. It is a large art exhibition that takes place every two years. Biennale is Italian for “Every Other Year”. The Biennale is hosted on the grounds of the giardini, a large park created by Napoleon Bonaparte. The gardens are home to some 30 pavilions that are filled with art from different countries, each country has its own Pavilion and each Biennale only one winner is selected. The very first American to ever win the Venice Biennale was Robert Rauschenberg in 1964. We left the hotel around 10 and hopped on a vaporetto that would take us to the gardens. The vaporetto is Venice’s equivalent to a city bus. Today is the first day of the preview, which is open to the special people like me with gold cards. There is less of a crowd during the preview, however today it is still very crowded. The Biennale operates much like an amusement park, the best rides have the longest lines. The whole exhibition is very big so today we only visited about half the Pavilions. We saw the Swiss, Canadian, Denmark, Swedish, German, Russian, Korean, Japanese, and American Pavilions. My favorite was the Swedish, and Japanese Pavilions, and my least favorite were the Swiss and Russian. The American Pavilion was attracting a large amount of people because it featured and upside down tank whose treads were spinning, being powered by a runner on a treadmill. It was a very interesting and fun filled day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day Three- Explorations and Exhibitions

Today my boss decided against going back to the biennale, I was fine with this decision because I kind of wanted to see a different part of town and get more photographs of Venice. I am up early and out way before them. I settle on against bringing a map and head right out with just my camera. I want to cover as much ground as I can because I have too little time in Venice and too much of Venice for my time. I wander around taking random turns trying to work my way farther from the hotel to see parts that I have not seen before. I took many pictures as I explored for a solid 2 hours. I meet Darryl and Mark back at the hotel then we head to the Dorsoduro, one of the six districts that Venice is divided into. Its only about a 10 minute walk to the Dorsoduro from our hotel in San Marco. We are bound to the Peggy Guggenheim. At the Peggy Guggenhiem they are currently exhibiting the Ileana Sonnabend collection. Ileana Sonnabend was to be among the greatest art collectors of late 20th century contemporary art. Her collection of art along with Peggy’s art collection blew me away. Amazing works by the worlds top artists. I learned a lot about Peggy as well as Ileana’s and Rauschenberg from Darryl’s lecture as we went through the show. Lunch at the gallery was amazing as well as dinner- Sea Bass at a nice restaurant. 


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day Four- Lazy Lasagna

Day four started with a pretty bad headache…needless to say what we had been up to. I am awoken by my rooms phone ringing, its Mark and Breakfast is way over with…Today is going to be a Lazy day. We head to the Dorsoduro for a quick brunch. Lasagna was a good choice for a hangover. We decide to check out the Biennale after brunch. The Chinese Pavilion was close by so we elect to head here. When you get to the Pavilion you walk into a walled in Garden, every tree and branch in sight hung beautiful White wired decorations. Man was the art awesome there, I was very impressed. The Chinese Pavilion was my new favorite and I even saw one of the artists there. Since one of the artists was there Darryl thought that a group of Chinese people that were sitting down in the garden might be the other 4 of the five artist exhibited there. It became apparent that none of them could speak English but it was funny watching Darryl try to have a conversation that was very unsuccessful that went on for about 5 minutes. After a day of more art and photography we retire for they hotel for a short nap. Its our last day in Venice and I don’t feel like napping so I go out exploring more. After another few hours of exploring its time for dinner at Vino Vino. Vino means Wine in Italian. A Suiting name, It’s the last night in Venice…Cheers 


Friday, May 27, 2011

Day Five- Leaving Venice

Today we are leaving Venice, I’m sad because I really liked this city a lot. We are all awake and packed and out of the hotel by 11:30. We are meeting a water taxi that will take us to the train station. We stand at the dock for about 10 minutes until a boat pulls up and docks. The Boat is a merchant boat and is loaded with all sorts of food and drinks…definitely not our water taxi. We hear the approach of an engine, but the merchant boat is still docked and in out way. No problem though the venetians are used to the jam-packed canals. The water taxi docks to the merchant ship and we crawl with 200lbs of luggage over the merchant ship and onto our water taxi. The next obstacle is making our way through the mass of gondolas, which are stupid tourist boats that float around the canals aimlessly propelled by a gondolier. We make it to the Grand Canal and its full speed to the train station. At the train station we get on the train and it’s a two-hour ride to Florence. The train was pleasant and soon we are in Florence. In Florence we hail a cab that takes us to our apartment. The apartment is and has a stairwell that takes us to the roof, which overlooks Florence. Once there Darryl blasts all the AC and we soon discover the room has an electrical problem because it goes out every 15 minutes and we have to run down 3 flights of stairs to flip the breaker. I’m not physic but this room cannot handle our electrical needs and this is not going to bode well with someone who likes its at 69 degrees. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day Six- What the Hail

Our first full day in Florence and Mark and Darryl are just hanging around. I’m feeling antsy so I jump on the computer and type in Florence bike rentals. Florence by bike is a pretty far walk from our apartment but to me its worth it, I haven’t been on a bike in a week and this is the perfect time to get one, with a bike I can cover more ground and see more of Florence than I could walking. I set off once again without a map but I have Google maps seared into my mind, I wont get lost. It’s about 13 blocks away. I get there and the people are nice, I pick out a bike and when its time to rent it I am asked for a credit card or a passport to complete the rental. I don’t have either so I tell them Ill be back in a half hour. I walk about a block and it starts to rain. I didn’t think much because it wasn’t a heavy rain and there are overhangs and things I can get some cover everywhere. The rain turns to a frenzied storm about a half a block later. Great I’m still like 12 blocks away. I duck for cover under an overhang by a shop that’s closed and has its metal door down. I’m soaked already and a little cold. I hear a faint clunking sound and am surprised to find that the rain has turned to hail. Hail is fairly common though here. The hail was a good size for how consistent and heavy it was coming down, it was about the size of an American dime. I stood there in the cold for about 10 minutes, about 5 minutes I recorded for you on my phone. After 10 minutes it was still raining I’m getting bored. I was cold and already completely soaked so I decide to make the 12 blocks run to my apartment. My only worry is my phone because I can’t put it in my pockets because they are already saturated and would surely destroy the phone. I cannot take my time and look at the street names either like I did on the way to the store; any stopping and my phone will be ruined. I tuck my phone under my underarms, the only somewhat dry place and run. It was still pouring hard, after a block I couldn’t see from my glasses, I take them off and continue to run. I make it back drenched and safe. The rest of the day was rainy and dreary which is disappointing for the first full day in Florence. Oh well tomorrow Ill get my bike and make up for the lost day.

Common View the last 3 days in Florence:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day Seven - Biking Florence

Today I get my bike! Once again Mark and Darryl are resting so I head out on my own to get the bike. Mark asks me to make copies to the passport while I’m out so I take them with. On the way to the bike rental I find a copy store. Only 0.22 Euros for the copies…not to bad. I get my bike this time because I brought my passport and my credit card. I look up in the sky to see if my luck has followed me again today, it hasn’t it’s a clear blue sky. I hope on the bike and the first thing I do is find a grocery store, I buy some juice and yogurt, just what I can carry on the bike…I should probably go back and rent a basket. I get back to the apartment and decide to bring the bike inside rather than lock it to a pole outside. That doesn’t last long the old and mean Italian witch lady who lives below us in the apartment comes down the stairs barking at me in Italian, she continues to do so despite my blank stare, she must not realize I do not understand a word she is saying except it probably has something to do with my bike. I point at my bike and she continues to bark at me and point at the door, ok I get your point mean old Italian witch. She is probably in a bad mood from the other day when Darryl was trying to get outside and was pressing her buzzer over and over wondering why the door wasn’t opening…he still had a flight of stairs to go to get to the door to the street. Either way I humble her and take my bike outside and lock it to a street sign.