A Moment in St. Mark’s Square

August 28, 2011 - 5:42 pm No Comments

Frank and Alex are continuing on a tour through the rest of Italy with Intrepid, giving them another week in the country. For a while, I thought about changing my plane ticket and joining them, but a girlfriend and work commitments at home prevented me from doing so.

Do Not Get On or Get Off During the Closing

This morning, Frank and Kirtan met up with me for a water taxi down the Grand Canal. Water taxis are a good substitute for the more famous but stupidly expensive gondolas, since you get essentially the same ride for about 1/10 the price.


Venetian Carnival Masks

We visited the some of the shops on the famous glass-making island of Murano. Pretty cool history.

Approaching Murano

Glass Painting

Church of Santa Maria e San Donato

Green Window at #3

We stopped for a lasagna lunch, which was not amazing. I’ve had frozen lasagna that tastes better. Where is the good Italian food?

Venetian Lasagna: Bad

Calle Marco da Muran & Calle Briata

The famously colored houses on Burano made for some nice photos.

Colored Houses & Bike

Colored Houses & Canal

Colored Houses & Bridge

In Burano, Without Sunglasses

Back in Venice, the doors of St. Mark’s Basilica were slammed in my face a second time. WTF.

Venezia Santa Lucia

After relaxing at my hotel for a bit, I returned to Venice to walk around at night and take some photos. Without referring to my map, I quickly lost my way. Venice at night is cool and quiet. The canals are still and there’s not a soul in sight. I walked past an open window just over my head. Stopping to listen, an Italian family was sitting down to eat dinner to the sound of a woman singing opera. Through another window, wild kids played with each other.

Campo Santo at Night

Artist at Rialto Bridge

Dark Alley

Canals & Bridges

A Quiet Moment

An Italian guy noticed all of my camera gear and asked me to take a photo of him and his drunk friends. He invited me to a party in Venice later that evening, but I declined.

Found my way back to St. Mark’s Square, where tables filled with tourists poured out of restaurants and live bands played classical music. When a performance on one side of the square ended, a performance on the other side would promptly begin.

Classical Music in St. Mark's Square

Under my feet, the ground in St. Mark’s Square slowly began to fill with puddles. Over several minutes, they grew and merged, forming larger pools that crossed the plaza. This was acqua alta, a regularly occurring high tide that submerges parts of Venice a few times a year. After a few minutes, the mirror-like water reflected all of St. Mark’s Square from below. It was magic.

St. Mark's Square at Night

Classical Music in St. Mark's Square

Here I was, in the middle of a flooded St. Mark’s Square, a cool breeze and classical music filling the air, I had one of those “moments.” Thoughts cascaded from “I’m leaving all of this tomorrow” to “What am I going back to?” to “Am I where I want to be in life?” Lost in thought, it was one of those end-of-the-trip moments that I’ve had a few times before. When you travel, you see and do a lot of great things, but those moments that make you stop and think about yourself, your past, your present, your future, the world and your place in it… Am I where I want to be in life? Am I happy with my life back home? Travel that has that magical ability to put you into that existential state of mind. For me, it’s what travel is all about.

Time for dinner. I was on a mission to find authentic Italian food. I looked for Chicken Parmigiana, my favorite dish, but couldn’t find it anywhere. (Subsequent research shows that Chicken Parmigiana and most dishes with tomato-based sauces come from southern Italy). Discouraged and hungry, I found a tucked away, almost authentic-looking Italian restaurant and ordered a pizza with sausage and spinach. I was surprised to learn that sausage in Italy is not what one would get when ordering “Italian sausage” back home. Here, the sausage was slices of what seemed like a Safeway-brand hot dog. The pizza was gross.

Venetian Pizza: Bad

Italian food, one of my favorite cuisines, is not that good here. Either I’ve had bad luck choosing spots, there is more authentic Italian cuisine in areas further away from tourists, or Americanized Italian food really is better. On top of being mediocre, the food and drink here are very expensive, almost 10 times what we were paying in other parts of Europe.

Having taken hundreds of photos and having filled my tummy with expensive garbage, I called it a night.

This morning, I had breakfast with Frank and met the group he’ll be seeing Italy with. All women. Frank was a little shaken at the prospect, but he’ll do fine. We said our goodbyes, and I vowed to visit Frank in Melbourne someday.

And that was it. The end of my trip. Off to Marco Polo Airport for my journey home.

The airport was a complete cluster. While this would normally throw me into a rage, I to the airport early enough to deal with it. I waited in the baggage line for 30 minutes. With no ropes and people cutting in front of me, my forward motion was negligible. I saw sign for machines that offered online check-in, got into that line, learned that the online check-in machines were not working, and went to the customer service desk, where I was promptly redirected to baggage line.

It was positively frigid on the plane. In Paris, another long and clunky walk between gates. They need to fix that.

Terminal E

Terminal E

Now on my flight home. I’ve just missed Hurricane Irene. With better timing, it might have extended my stay in Italy. Apparently, I’ve also missed an earthquake that has damaged some of the buildings in DC. For now, the natural disasters are over. I’ll be home in a few hours.

Leave a Reply