Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Last Post Of Italy

It is on principle that I am posting the last few weeks of Italy!
April 2010

Last Week In Rome

Tuesday, April 20th 2010-Last English Second Language class.

I usually just watched the lessons from the corner, or writing on the dry erase board. But I realized how much I gained, from listening to the questions they asked, from hearing the Italian they mixed in with the English they were carefully using. They thanked me, and the ladies I had talked to more said goodbye. They are really great people. And Justin was great to listen to and explained things when I didn’t understand or know what was going on.

Dinner afterwards made by Cathy and Dawn! The only thing that kept me from tearing up like a total emotional and sensitive wreck was that we would see them Sunday.

Then of course Jill, Jason and me got gelato afterwards with Luke at the gelateria near the convent. J “our gelateria”

Thursday April 22-Choir!

We havnt gotten to go too often, but it’s always fun! And then we walk around for the rest of the week with the songs in our head. One of the ladies was celebrating a birthday, so the Philippine ladies cooked a meal of rice noodles and cooked vegies, with dessert of rice and honey.

Afterwards we got directions from Cathy for a very good Tiramisu place..called Pompi! We only got a little lost, (and luke asked for directions and was able to understand the directions given…without hand gestures). Tried one of each, frutti de basco (wild fruit?) a fruity mix, plain strawberry, and classic tiramisu!!! Ordered those three and passed around, trying bites and designating favorites. Conclusion? Definently classic..but my preference of espresso made me biased. Also the fruit mix one! So very very full though…

Friday, April 23

Perhaps one of the most fun, fabulous, fantastic days in Rome. Jill, Jason, and I met up with Luke and Joel Bennett in order to clamber up Saint Peter’s Dome! We walked along the edge of the inside of the dome, right up against the beautiful ceiling tiles. A tall sturdy-ish wire netting kept me securely on the walkway. We could look down on the floor far below us and the teeny people below on the patterned floor. If we had a laser pointer…the fun would have been brutal.

The second set of stairs were inside, under the dome (so the ceiling sloped down making any tall ish type persons duck) Finally, after much lines and crowding, you emerge on top with all of the Vatican city at your toes. From one side you could peer into the courtyard of the Vatican museum, but the front was the best, with the courtyard of St. Peters and the walls topped with the many saints framing the view.

We clambered down and went to the Old Bridge Gelateria. Possibly more fantastic then the one by the Convent. ..but only barely. Despite the rain, we wandered to St. Angelo’s Castle.The circular castle is not like one where I plan on living one day… but the Angel Bridge in front of it, well, I could stroll across it every day. Bernini sculpted the angels that pervade over the bridge, lining the sides. Each Angel holds an object of the passion of the Christ. Cross, crown of thorns, INIR sign, garmets and dice, cat of nine tails whip, the pedestal, the shroud, the nails (?). After dinner, we crossed the bridge again but this time after dark, the bridge was lit up with the angels separated from the shadows, and their features dramatized. So Bernini’s stone angels had shape from their cold forms.

Dinner, high Italian style of caprese, pizza, and Perrier. Oh,and back to the Old Bridge for dessert!

Saturday, April 24th

Last Saturday at the soup kitchen. Yes I was in the way. But still sad to go. There are some incredible people there. That are inspiring in so many ways to my vague self. Met up with Jill and Jason (she packed me a sandwich) and we Saint Pauls Outside the Walls. It was an impressive church. With a layout that was long and wide, and tall columns separating a walkway on tboth sides. A choir was singing when we entered and a mass was going on, so the sound echoed off the ceiling. Yes, they sang the Halaluiah Chorus, and my soul melted a little. You could probably see the residue on the marble. The courtyard outside the colossal doors. And thedomed ceiling behind where the pastor/priest stood was a huge mosaic of Jesus and the apostles.

Next we went to Saint John Lateran. With it’s fantastic organ and the many prophets lined up on both sides of where people sit. Above the prophets were different sculpted scenes of the Old and New Testament. There was also had a fantastic organ!

Sunday, april 25th

Last Sunday at Rome Baptist church. Silly how the church came to feel like home itself. I know it is a building full of people coming and going, but I guess some of the people dug into your heart a little bit. Maybe because they spoke English, but I wasn’t that desperate for English speaking friendly people. Even though I knew from the start that we were only visiting for a short while, I somehow managed to feel the sadness of goodbyes anyways. Thank goodness for Jill’s companionship! Or I would have felt singularly insipid for the sniffling and snuffling. Plus, hiding out in the back room is easier that way (less obvious one is avoiding people and blatantly hiding) as well easier to play of tears behind self-chiding laughter. But most importantly, friends help with Un Dolce Pensiero.. sweet thoughts.

Set off my Rome Baptist church by myself, off to meet up with Erika…a friend of Ursula’s who I met in Switzerland. I had an address, and I had instructions of which subway line to take and to get a bus ticket to Rocca Di Papa. It turned out to be one of my favorite afternoons in Roma.

After taking the subway to the end of the line, I arrived at a very empty bus station, got a ticket, and settled in to wait for it. Dolt that I am forgot that Sundays…nothing runs as scheduled, but on a more spaced out and even more sporadic timing. So as the afternoon was wittled away while I waited for over an hour, slowly more and more people arrived for the buses. I was, very clearly, the foreigner. Between the unfortunate timing of wearing a bright pink shirt, and the deer –in-the-headlights look, along with quietly asking if this was the right platform… I feel it was an unavoidable assumption to be drawn. Made friends with two Spanish nuns while perched there. Then we all squished on the bus and went speeding along a random road. At the correct stop, it felt like half the bus helped me get off at the right place. (i’d hardly uttered a peep the entire time, except once on the bus to find out the time it took to arrive at the right stop). Yet, everyone was so nice and helpful, directing me on my way.

Once safely and happily on the ground I checked out each road sign in the square, and “confidently” started down that road, checking house numbers as I went. It was a perfectly blue sky day, and plenty warm. Just the day for an adventure! After walking for a while, I did ask two men on the street (in Italian) if this was the correct road for this address, and if they knew how much farther the address was/ if it was the right direction. One recognized me from the bus even!

I got to the right address and rang up, what a relief to see a Erika! She showed me to her apartment, on the top floor of a lovely complex. It was small, and airy, and full of sunshine and comfort. Her patio almost had a roof, but it was like a circular cut out had been taken at a slant, so walls rose up on both sides, and it opened so that you could lean against the edge and look out. (if that makes any sense. Basically, it was a lovely way to have the patio meet the roof.

Erika does not speak much English, and I speak even less Italian. But we got along fine! Though the afternoon was short, we went for a walk around Rocca Di Papa, working our way up the road that went through the center of a town that seemed edged into the cliffs. She pointed out that the glimmer in the distance was the ocean, 20 kilometers away. And on a clear day, you can see San Pietro’s in Roma.

She led me through the narrow winding stone streets, and we stopped outside a café she likes and she treated me to a cappuccino and light little pastry that had whip cream that was perfectly sweet and light in the middle and spilling out the sides. It was delicious!!!!! We sat there for a little, every sip perfect, by a fountain. Looking at the crowded homes that shouldered next to each other around the square (circle?) the streets were narrow as well as steep. And when a car came, we just took a turn that incorporated narrow stairs into it’s turns.

And yes we did encounter another guy who explained to Erika that he had been on the bus with me! Either I’m very obvious, or half the town was on that bus! (or, of course, I’m wildly popular and extremely famous!!)

I wished I did not have only the piece of the afternoon to spend with her in that little town. It was absolutely lovely in every single way. Yes, the thought of living there did cross my mind. Perhaps it was good I left before any serious plotting could occur.

Her friend living in the apartment below her was driving back to Rome, which was fantastic because then I did not have to play hide and seek with the buses! I felt bad because I was so tired, and not as chatty. Plus the winding roads are preferable to get sleepy on. Still, we talked away and I learned all kinds of things. The final of which being that I am no help at all driving in rome. Not with maps. Not with roads. Not with other drivers. I trusted the man, familiar with it. Because I was beyond clueless.

Arrived a bit late (as Italy tends to be) to the church dinner at the Mongolian Buffet. I tried a little bit of everything. Decided I could not like crawfish, and could perhaps,one day, warm up to octopus?? Some rubbery sea urchin. Most of the food was very good tasting, and (in the continued spirit of adventure) tasting things that I had no clue what they were went very well for me.

It also gave me another round of goodbyes, but without the crying. Already did all that earlier! And besides, full stomachs at the end of a good day surrounded by all kinds of strange food staved off the “goodbye pains”. Topped off with a walk to our Gelateria with Joel, Jason, and Jill.And I acted like a normal human being should (until I got safely into the courtyard or the convent).

Monday, April 26th

This afternoon, sat on the park bench and got to have a fragmented, pieced conversation with the violinist who plays at the street corner that I run past on my loop. He always waves his bow and says “Ciao Bella” and I say “Bonjourno!” and sometimes he plays a little tune for me, with an uplifting beat.

Then Jill and I packed up a lunch, dessert, and some pear and apricot juice for a picnic at the park at Mussolini’s home. Because it was such a nice day out, everyone seemed to be out. But we found a patch of grass, and like most tend to do, plopped down for food and relaxation.

That evening the whole group went out for dinner. And every bite was sad and delicious at the same time. I may never have an affair with food like this again. (I gained close to 25lbs while over there…even with the running and constant walking. That’s what happens when you go from eating like a rabbit/quasi vegetarian to slowing down to city running and having dessert after every large pasta/cheese based meal! Was it worth it? Absolutely). It was fun being out as a group, we usually did not all go out to eat together. These friendships that were built, and the way I lived with this group for three months and got to know people during that time would never have happened without Rome. It was even weird to realize that when we returned home, we would all go back to our separate lives, seeing each other only in passing. They are a fantastic bunch of people, and we have shared good laughs and exciting new experiences. Places we’ve been and seen that seem like a dream, or like it should only happen to the luckiest people in the world. But here I was, there, one of the “Luckiest people in the world”! freaking surreal.

Jill, Jason, and I visited the Bennetts….for one last trip to the Old Bridge Gelateria. We wandered around, visited the Trevi Fountain, and I tossed a penny over my shoulder and made a wish to come true…just like you should! Then we walked up to the Victor Emmanuel monument, finally free of all the construction, cleaning, reinforcing scaffolding that had covered parts of it the whole time we’d be there. We clambered up the stairs to the church behind the monument and perched there awhile. Talking while we looked out over the city, and all the twinkling lights in the night that designated monuments and streets.

Tuesday, April 27th –last day in Rome

Epic run through Rome. How could it not be? Wove my way past the familiar shops, past victor emmanual, around palantine hill- with glimpses of the red brick ruins amidst the trees, around past the colosseo (Colosseum). Then deviated from the normal breath taking route and headed toward the Vatican. Down the main road into St. Peter’s square, down to St. Angelo’s castle, then down the Angel bridge. Found my way to the Pantheon one last time, pausing inside real quick to see the inside again (minus the cold and rain) then back again! Past The Bernini fountain, past port a pia and the guards for the embassy there.

I do not think I will ever find another run that will include such fantastic buildings and pieces of history. It’s the “bee’s knees”. Completely and totally fantastic. But my favorite parts of the every day runs was getting to see the city and its people. The shops, and the people that occupy them . The way life runs in the morning or the afternoon (depending on when I’m out) and the rhythm of the street. The trucks trying to back out of too tight of a spot, and the groups of ladies shopping for groceries or for clothes? I learned all kinds of things, how to keep your eyes and ears open all the time, to notice the little things. To be okay with getting lost, and finding something interesting from it.

Spent the rest of the night frantically finishing everything up. And using super powers to fit everything into that suitcase!

Wednesday, April 28th Home again!

First thing noticed? The American flag… it was the first time I felt a twinge of excitement to be back. Biggest difference? LINES! Organization, a method to get people quickly and efficiently through the process. Maybe it was just joy in getting off the plane.

Lugged me and my overpacked bags through the airport (probably humorously so). Found mom because she had the camera, classic of her. And my dad with a full bouquet of flowers! Purple ones that he bought J amidst a cluster of lilacs from our house. Then they tolerated my cheery, 110 mph babbling the whole way home. Arent families the best? They supported me so that I could go off and experience so many things! It was growing into realizing myself a little bit better. and doing some self-improving too (being more responsible and becoming capable in handling the scary or just straight out-of-the comfort-zone situations). learning about God too, how he looks at different angles..more of what he is, not how society or culture defines him. Because what better way to understand something when the culture surrounding you becomes very fluid.

Old Bridge Gelateria

Inside of Saint Paul's (above) and outside (below)

Angels Bridge
St. Angelo castle
Vatican City from top of St. Pietro
narrow stairwell (yet another) and low curved ceiling!
along the top of the inside of St. Peter's

VENEZIA! Venice!!

April 14th

We were only home for two days before the whole group of us left as a “class trip” (epic fieldtrip). Complete with fearless leader (Dr. Szabo) and our brilliant organizational planner and pack herder…Kristin!

Before leaving, there was laundry to do! (only a few changes of clothes demands laundry to be done, with time to hang out up on the line and dry) Also, Papers to write and turn in! but it was rather difficult to focus on such things with a friend online who was willing to listen to my chatter, journaling to do(with that up to date I could then later catch up on the blog with my journal to reference.)

With some crunching I got the final paper on the Madonna and Child (broken into small groups assigned topic, specific area of the subject focused on by each). I actually somehow ended up sort of liking the Byzantine style Madonna and child I had initially galloped past in the museums while on my way to stare at other century’s artists. It grew on me. (thanks for Dr. Szabo’s passion and interesting descriptions of the subtlies of the pieces).

We boarded the train, with separate compartments that sat six, and had a little sliding door to block out sound, and thick curtains to darken the compartment if one so desired. Jill and I were separated from the group and got a box all to ourselves and the other interesting people we met! I bunched my jacket and scarf under my head, leaned against the wall and promptly fell asleep for the whole entire six hour ride.

Disembarking in Venice, we came out of the train station to a see the city no longer founded deep in the earth and stretching into the sky. But rather, buildings leaning against each other, built and added to vertically! (for space allowance)..all of them on the water! The floating city of Venezia truly looks dreamlike, with the water lapping at the front doors of some buildings. One hotel even had a sort of “water lobby” it seemed. For boats to pull up and guests to disembark at the front door when the flooding filled the small space normally used for walking.

Bus tickets were distributed. I initially was just so relieved at having my previous trip payment take care of the cost, and Kristin, our site director, deal with the hassle of finding ticket location and buying while I could lean casually and observe the bustling canal with boats and gondolas floating up and down laden with people and cargo. Everything here is transported by water to get to its destination. When loaded or unloaded it is all done by hand (prices increase admirably) and you can see people lugging these large box/wheel barrow sort of things filled with anything from food delivery to bags of sand, powder concrete…heavy building supplies. There are also no cars or vespas…no type of automobile here at venice. All the traveling is done by water. Doesn’t it sound lovely and romantic? HA. That’s what I thought. Until we got on the bus…the boat bus. The waiting dock shifted under your feet with the waves while we waited to board onto the boat that was rocking up and down, back and forth until finally starting to moveforward. I sat at the front, leaning into the wind. Realizing how much I would miss those horrible, lurching buses of Rome compared to this motion sickness nightmare.

This did not keep me from craning my neck at everything. Trying to get a grip at the fabled city I had just arrived in! Jill and I were squealing “ I cannot believe we are here!” and elbowing each other to point out things. (no this never did get old). It was kind of a sensory shell shock though.My brain was still on overload from paris….so to be here, in real life, left me stuttering and incapable of normal processing.

We passed under bridges of all shapes and sizes until disembarking at the academia bridge, which we trooped across , sidled down a street to the hotel that had been booked for us.The room itself did not have the square feet for the beds needed. But a narrow wooden staircase with a banister went at an impressive vertical angel to the upper loft where more beds were perched.

Traveling with the group offered a different dynamic. Good and interesting, but complicated to stay together in the narrow streets. After the first evening of frequent side streets, and misplacing half of a group…I stopped fretting and figured being a worry bear was pointless. It just made me seem a stickler. That evening was our first dinner with the “Ticket booklets”. We were supposed to be using them the whole time, with each ticket worth five euros to pay for food at restaurants or groceries from designated stores and establishments that would accept this form of payment. Thank goodness it took so long! I would have spent more of my own money (instead of the food stipend provided until the ticket books arrived in our final two weeks) trying gelato, pastries and such! The booklets were also a mega pain because 1. You would lose money if you didn’t spend in even 5 euro incramints, so you 2. Spent more to make the amount even, which seemed like an advantage…but was really just annoying and limiting. But especially problematic was 3. Our group seriously struggled to find a restaurant that would take these! Eventually succeeded and divided for the sake of space.

Back at the hotel, played games of cards with stifled laughter and suppressed giggling, so we wouldn’t wake neighbors through the thin walls.

April 15th-Thursday

Though my favorite way to explore a city is by running, I gave it a bypass this morning. The narrow streets of venice follow no rules or predictable patterns like most cities. And landmarks cannot be spotted over buildings.

As a class we went to San Marco, a few blocks and bridges away! It was a building that showed the middle east meeting Italy in its architecture. The basilica stood at the far side of the square, and the square was formed by the solid buildings that framed it to the left and right, they had uniform windows and matching structure the whole way around, except for the variety shops and restaurants at the bottom that opened into the square. Chairs and tables were clustered neatly outside the restaurants off to the side of the open piazza to allow dinners to eat outdoors, to enjoy the square, and the music that floated across the space from the live musicians or singers performing.

The church has five onion shaped domes . and inside, the frescos we so commonly see are absent. Instead the whole interior is covered in mosaics! (including the floor) because of the moisture in the air, plaster would clearly not last. So the chips of color create designs and stories that cover walls and ceilings. The inside was all gold mosaics! Detailing and imagery all made from gold pieces to form scenes of Christ’s life. Light’s turned on overhead, bringing the walls to life, illuminating the gold mosaics, making the scenes even more breath taking. Up the standard narrow, steep staircase, worn in the center from the tread of so many people. From there we could overlook the church, and had an overview of the church and at the mosaics that were closer to the ceiling…on that side anyways.

From there, you could step outside to see the square from above, as well as the area off to the side, where the plaza met the grand canal. Directly to the right of the door, were the five bronze horses that had been taken to Athens from Venice, until they were finally returned to their homeplace. (the originals are inside the church, on the top level among some other historical pieces and carved stone from pieces of walls) From the higher level I could better see the clock tower, a winged lion is in front of a blue backgrounded with gold colored stars, which is above the clock face that has astrological signs inside the roman numeral numbers. On the very top, two bronze worn to green were two green men that swiveled to hit the bell on the hour. There was a random brick tower that was across the square: purpose unknown. And we could see the people and pigeons down in the square, surrounded by the many windowed apartments, atop which statues lined.

Next we filed after Kristin and Dr. Szabo to the Doge’s palace. (Doge meaning Duke) Highlights were: the room with the largest oil paintings were hung, depicting a scene when 1700 people had once gathered in the room. Also walked across the Bridge of Sighs, named because it’s where prisoners were led across before disappearing down into the prison cells below. There was a window that allowed “one last look” at the bustling grand canal outside”. It was depressing to wander around those dank chambers. To entertain ourselves while walking through the endless rooms, We started with Kristin deciding which room we would like as our bedroom/dining room/ dance room. (factors included: ceiling height or pattern, windows, chandeliers) this evolved into Jill and I deciding the function for various rooms. Mainly, a different dance for each day of the week! Ballet here, polka there, waltz another day, especially swing too!

Part of the group went on a gondola ride. Sounds lovely, though over priced and nauseating sounding. So I shopped around with a few other people of the group, using an obscene amount of self control. All the pretty jewelry, and glass designs I wanted to buy for so many friends! Some window fronts were filled with masks, some heavy, others delicate wire and glittering with sparkles (especially the swarovski crystal store window ). Other windows how glass art. Vases 3 feet high, or taller, made of colors that twisted and melted together in a complex design that sometimes looked more like a living flower than cold glass. Another window had a bald eagle, with it’s wings outstretched…and looking so lifelike and fierce…I could not help but get a twinge of patriotism. The boys were getting things for girlfriends, sisters, and mothers, I slid in advice when needed…but they did a good job of being sweet J

Gathered together and managed dinner…at the same place because we still hadn’t found any other places we could pay with tickets. But this time as a whole group J passed around dishes to try each other’s plates. Afterwards, Jill and I wanted to continue walking along, so we crossed the canal on the bus with Jason and Seth along as well. We wandered along the sidewalks that wound by canals, and over bridges. We followed it to soccer (football!) courts. And then followed the twisting sidewalks to a hotel…specifically, the Hilton. And with one initiator (Seth) anadventurer (moi) and two fellow, willing adventurers. We had a spontaneous escapade through the hotel. Strolling casually through the halls, up the elevator to check out the pool on the roof (albeit closed for the night), down hallways to a fitness center …where I would probably feel out of place sweating among the clean machines, water bottles, and white fluffy towels, oh! And the marble floored, heavy wood stall doors bathroom (better then many changing rooms I have been in) you know what they say, you can judge a place by its bathroom. Finally, in the lobby, where Jill and I played piano (okay, well she whipped out a song..fur elise.. and I plunked along a few notes I remembered). We just acted like we belonged there, and no one asked us anything or stopped us. Final visit was the roof top (access totally legal by a type of fire escape) hopping across bulky concrete, and contemplating rooftop climbing. (dismissed for various, valid reasons).

Honestly, the best part may have been the boat/bus ride back. I was comfortably nose out, and we took an extended way back, around the floating city (or one island of it). We watched the twinkling lights be reflected in the water, to double the evening’s lights. We passed buildings of all kinds. Many brightly lit and romantic along the water, inviting to the weary or the wealthy. Along side these lavish buildings that cast lights cheerfully onto the rippling waves, were dark buildings. Those ones stood gracefully in the shadows, unobtrusive as they emerged from the ebony, swirling water. My favorite was watching these buildings on the water, and imagining the people or events that may have occurred there. We motored slowly through the water, frequently bumping to a stop for an exchange of passengers, then continuing on past peaceful streets and under shadowy bridges. Maybe it was the time of year, but the air didn’t smell bad either. The speed of the boat created wind to brush against our cheeks and pull our hair away from our faces while we turned our heads back and forth to see the passing buildings.

Friday, April 16th

Went for a little run this morning. If I’d ever thought other cities were difficult to navigate and explore while running, sheesh was I wrong. Venice, after just three turns your sense of direction starts to waver . Then I had to constantly remind myself which side of my body the grand canal is, the canal nearest our hotel, and where San Marco may be in relation to where I was. Then I would find myself turned or facing another direction with the grand canal in front of my toes…where I didn’t think it would be. That wasn’t so bad, I could re-orient to that. The hardest part was making a turn down a street or unto a an ally (major portion of the streets are narrow allies) and a couple steps later, the stone street would stop, and a waterway would appear in front of my toes. Sometimes a bridge would be appear to connect the two sides, sometimes I would crane my neck around the building and see a bridge further away in the mist, so I could figure out which direction to aim for. (sometimes I didn’t find the bridge I was looking for, which was either a good surprise or just confusing). So running wasn’t fast, because I kept stopping and had to leave ample time to get back since that could be any direction….

Best part: found a church by the water side. There were two large stone lions nearby…like guardians of the gate. The inside of the church was large and open aired. I don’t remember architectural details, just the peaceful stillness that was inside the building. how it was cooler in the big stone building and the little sweat I had quickly evaporated off my skin giving me goosebumps.

The group went to the Peggy Guggenheim museum of modern art. Dr. Szabo lead us through pointing out the different styles. If it wasn’t for her contagious interest in it….I probably would have drifted a little aimlessly through it. It felt like so long ago that I was an abstract addict. So I tapped into that side of me to appreciate the art made of colors and angles of shape and shade.Because the point is to evoke emotion. It’s like poetry as opposed to classic just approaches it differently and has a different expectation of what to take from it.

Jill and I walked about, shopping a little. For lunch we found a little patisserie/bakery. For 5 euros you could get a little triangle sandwich filled with egg. Or a little croissant with ham and cheese. A little sweet dessert cake or treat. We grabbed some extra for later, and went to meet up with the group taking a boat bus to Morano. It was over a half an hour…plus stops and such. Despite the cool air I remained perched at the front part of the boat, nose to the wind to watch the activity on the water…and by doing so remained mostly un-queasy. We arrived on the small, lovely and brightly colored island. The little stores and shops were brightly colored and their windows were full and glittering with different colors and shapes of glass. I shopped around, angsted over picking one for myself. I talked it out, back and forth between a couple stores before settling on a pretty blue heart with green traces through the glass and a swirling pattern of gold on the inside.

The group also payed a “discounted” group fee to hear someone with a thick accent explain a glass blowing demonstration done by a guy from..I think japan..who had a long black hair and only a thin sheen of sweat despite the furnaces hot temperatures. They said he came there, and in an extremely short amount of time had risen to a high level of a master glassblower.

I was mesmerized by the pendulum like movements of the long iron pole he had the glass on the end of. Slowly the brilliantly hot glass took shape, as it slowly cooled. With a few pinches and twists of his wrist, a little glass horse stood on the work bench. The second part of the demonstration was watching the glass cool too rapidly, and shatter into pieces as it hit the floor, because the class was old and no good.

We shopped some, indecision squishes my efficiency! Finally settled on a pretty blue one with a green inside and a spiral design in the center.

Hard Rock Café in Venice! For Kristin’s birthday, with some plotting and planning we managed to surprise her. I scarfed the extras of those little sandwiches, and got an ice tea. (ridiculous how expensive it is. I don’t miss hamburgers that much )

Afterwards, we were walked around and the groups split off. Later in the evening Jill, Becky, and Jason joined up with Seth, Willie and Phil. We bought two bottles of red wine, a merlot and a chardonnay. Split it up in little plastic cups among those of us who wanted some. It was the best wine I’ve ever had. Though could have been the location. We sat at a couple of the little tables we pushed together at one of the closed restaurants that boardered st. marco’s square. A couple places remained open and had live bands still singing and playing familiar songs.

So we sipped the wine, and talked of things good and true. Because there’s nothing else you could do, with the music all sweet, and the wine filling your mouth, and lights of the church turned it into a still painting. And the buildings surrounding and creating the square had a candle in each of the uniform windows, all the lights mixed and played shadows across the square.

Jason and I ended up dancing, jurst a swing, then a polka, and a waltz, followed by an even faster swing. The wine blurred the cobblestones under me feet as we spun around and around. (which was difficult with boots on). I searched for a point to use to spot as we circled and spun, because the piazza was spinning along with us. I kept up nicely and was only a little breathless when we stopped, and the evening went silent and soft again.

Saturday, April 17th

Before departing we stopped at the little sandwich shop. Then an Italian told us about the open market. We had 15 minutes to spare before we had to meet at the train station. So Jill and I hopped off at the designated stop and the market booths were right by the water. We bought peanuts, dates, (like, not dried and in a bag) dried kiwi, apples/pears. We didn’t have time for more, but you could see the meat hanging fresh (sheep heads) , and (of course) the smell of fish that hung thickly in the air. I would have enjoyed investigating the crowded streets on that side, but we hustled onto the train (which was packed in the compartments and in the isles too…even standing room.this is because of volcano eruption in Iceland cutting off all air traffic…so people were getting places or home by any means possible. Which I found out details on the boat by asking a couple vacationing from Australia)

bus boat!
Murano island of glass!

waltz/polka/swing in front of San Marco

atop san marco looking towards the canal
Note: San marco's bronze horses!
clock tower!

lovely gondola boats of sea sickness death traps!

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