Venice and Rome, 2001

I'd been working really hard for the past year, since moving to Boston and starting at Nearlife. I was working on the Networld project, which culminated in a two month stint in Chicago and then another week spent in there trouble shooting. I managed to find some time to book a flight to Italy for when the project was slated to end, fulfilling a long held dream to visit Venice. Though I almost ended up in Vienna instead when the travel agent I booked through mistook the airport codes. :) I ended up flying into Boston from Chicago the second time the night before I was to leave for my vacation. Since this trip was so long, I scanned the pictures before writing up this entry, so you may want to look at them first if this isn't complete yet.

Sun Apr 1

I woke before my alarm went off, at 10am instead of noon, but feeling somewhat recovered from the week in Chicago. I biked into work and did my expense report and time sheets for last week, and left a NetPass that I'd bought for Steve C on his keyboard. I sent one last email to a mailing list that I'm on, letting them know I'd be offline for 2 weeks, and then biked to Harvard square to deposit the last expense report's reimbursement cheque and the money for the phone bill from Quang. Went straight home from there, took a shower, and was out the door just after 1:30pm. As usual, the bus zoomed by as I was walking up my side street towards Mt. Auburn, so I rolled my suitcase up to the next stop where the Waverly bus came after a short wait. Quick transfers from the red line to the green line to the blue line to the airport shuttle and a short check in line made up for the initial bad start to the trip. I checked my suitcase voluntarily this time, not wanting to have to fuss with it during the transfer in Frankfurt. No problems at the security check, and I was able to change my dollars into lire at a counter by my gate. The plane was there already when I sat down to have a drink and a snack at 3, but we didn't board until 4. My cold had progressed to the point where I could barely breath, but at least my sinuses were okay and the take off wasn't too painful. I had three seats to myself, and all three yellow pillows weren't quite enough to make a comfortable sleeping set up. Supper was a bland vegetarian offering. I dozed on and off across the Atlantic, after watching the graphic of our plane go over Newfoundland. The Family Man didn't hold my attention at all, Nicholas Cage is forever set in my mind as the antagonist after the two John Woo films I saw him in, erasing forever the memory of Raising Arizona.

Mon Apr 2

I woke up for breakfast over Ireland, an odd choice of a salad in a pita for my requested vegetarian meal that the woman behind me was offered first when they mixed up the requests. They turned off the plan and map graphic as we came in to land, since it was slightly off from true, making it look like we'd overshot Frankfurt. Had the second most painful landing of all time, my ears were still producing spikes of pain by the time I made it to the new gate in Frankfurt. It was a quick flight though, 6.5 hours or so. I made my way through the "experience" (in the words of the arrival video they showed on the plane) of a tunnel over to the other part of the terminal - it's walls were covered by a corrugated material, a half cylinder containing the two moving walkways, and lights came up and went down in various colours, first blue/purple and then white/yellow. Disturbing after an all night flight. A huge line at passport control blocked my way from the non EU to the EU part of the airport, but it moved fairly constantly. I had no Deutchmarks to spend in the two hours before boarding, so I went straight to the gate and collapsed in a chair there, feeling every minute of the jet lag. Then they went and moved the gate on me, so I lost my comfortable seat and moved to a more crowded area for the flight to Venice. Quite tired but not about to fall over. Yet. At least Venice is in the same time zone as Frankfurt, 6 hours later than Boston.

It was a full flight and I ended up sandwiched between two guys, but I was able to see some of the Alps as we flew over them. Only the tallest peaks were more impressive than the Canadian Rockies, but they were gorgeous none the less. :) The pressure in my ears had only equalised fully when we had climbed up to cruising altitude and the landing was less painful to my ears (not hard). I ended up dozing a lot on this flight, though, as my night of no sleep caught up with me. I breezed through customs in Venice after being bussed from the tarmac to the terminal - only one stamp in my shiny new passport, from Frankfurt. I bought a ticket for the waterbus over to Lido and managed to just make the next sailing. One of the attendants reminded me a lot of BlackZ, it was somewhat disconcerting. We stopped at Murano first, and then went on to Lido. I took lots of pictures as we were navigating the channel between the markers, though I missed my chance to take a picture of the sign mounted on a pole driven into the lagoon: "Men at work" followed by a barge with a front end loader dredging the water. The boat went on to a stop on Venice proper after I got off at Lido. I found the hotel, Biassutti Villa Ada, with no problem, it was on a street that led off the one along the water, about a five minute walk from the stop. The desk clerk kept my passport for a bit to fill in my info for the tourist registration, and the bell boy carried my suitcase up to my tiny little room, number 22 on the third US floor, second European floor. Switched on the TV for background noise - English music videos and Italian news. Washed my face, dug out my hat and was ready to brave the streets to get some water, more tissues to deal with my cold and possibly lunch.

I wandered around for a bit, found the pharmacy but no tissues. Found a grocery near the hotel and picked up a bottle of water, some juice, pears and yoghurt. I went back to the hotel and had a snack then made the mistake of laying down for a nap, and ended up sleeping from 1-7pm. The room faced west, so the sun woke me coming through the white gauzy curtains. The room was very narrow, with the toilet room on the left and the shower and sink room on the right as you come in the door, then the single bed and the desk with a narrow passage between them, then the wardrobe at the foot of the bed and a clear space to open the large windows into. The walls were covered by green fabric with gold designs and braided cord along the seams and corners. The desk chair was covered to match, as well as the bedspread and the wardrobe. The washrooms had green tile, and the carpet was a darker green with red accents. I liked it. :) One lack was no wash cloth, but I managed well enough without, though I regretted unpacking the one I had put into my toiletries bag just before leaving.

I headed back out in search of supper. I walked down to the water near the bus stop first, and enjoyed an amazing sunset over Venice - the lagoon looked like liquid mercury, reflecting blue-silver from the sky. I sat by the water bus stop and watched a bat eating insects by the edge of the lagoon. The pharmacy was closed now, so I left that for the next day, and went into a restaurant called Roxy for supper. I had the gilled sole, salad and yet more bottled water. The waiter gave me a copy of Modern Woman to peruse while waiting for my bill, it was in Italian but the fashions were interesting at least. He thought I couldn't speak since I was too tired to brave my rudimentary Italian and was pointing at everything and nodding to his suggestions. Granted, my voice wasn't in too good shape either, but still. Back to the hotel around 9:30pm and saw that they had made up my bed while I was out, leaving a delicious amaretto candy on the pillow. Went to bed but ended up tossing and turning for a while, thanks to my afternoon nap.

Tues Apr 3

I woke right up at around 2:30am. I stepped over to the windows and leaned out, breathing in the fresh air and the silence. No sound but for my snoring neighbour in the room beyond. The cars were silent and all the birds had gone to bed. I lay awake for a while longer and then dozed off. Around dawn the birds stated singing and the moon dipped behind the houses to glow orange just over the horizon. I ate a pear to take the edge of my hunger as my body insisted that it was breakfast time.

I came out of the middle of a dream at around 8, and then dozed off again until crashing woke me at around 11am. I misread the alarm clock and thought it was 1pm, so jumped out of bed and took a shower and had a snack. No sign of house keeping, but at least I got to sleep myself out. Made plans to get the train ticket for my trip to Rome and visit the area around San Marco today. I had kept the window open all night, the bird song was lovely in the morning, and the stars were incredibly clear last night.

Went down to the front desk to ask where I could purchase train tix, and they directed me to the travel agent just around the corner. Hit the pharmacy first, just in front of a crowd of people who butted in front of me in the nebulous line. Asked for tissues, turned out that they had them, but only the travel packs, which I had missed yesterday, but were perfect. The first travel agent was busy, but the second place I tried was very helpful and reserved and charged the ticket for me on the spot. 12:28pm on Thursday I'll leave for Rome, and then buy a return ticket once I get there. I walked over to the water bus and bought a return ticket for the day and took it over to the San Marco stop. At the Ducal Palace I bought the 7 museum entry ticket, good for three months, and started with the Palace.

Pictures that I took at the Ducal Palace:

The prisons underneath the palace seemed very cleaned up, especially when I considered that they had held up to 10-12 men each. Most seemed well lit but some on the bottom floor were completely dark. I can see how some of the prisoners went insane, especially those innocent ones. I wandered from San Marco over to the Rialto Bridge and was lured into a stationers shop on the bridge itself where I picked up a neat silver sealing wax stick for Quang. I tried to ask the owner of the store if it would dry flexible, for mailing letters sealed with it, but I'm not sure I got my point across. Oh well, it's shimmery at least. :) I found the textiles museum by accident and toured around it - not a lot of examples, the Victoria and Albert Museum had more, but they were some very nice examples of 16th century Venetian clothing. I started my sampling of Italian gelato flavours with a divine hazelnut cone, and of course never found that store again. Sat and ate a snack by the bridge, with my legs dangling over the edge of the bricks lining the Grande Canale. Wandered back to San Marco, enjoying wending my way through the maze of streets, up and over the canals on tiny or not so tiny bridges. Ended up using up the last picture on my suspect roll with an image of the Bridge of Sighs connecting the Ducal Palace with the prisons. It was crowded on the bridge with the best view, so I took the image from the base of the bridge, almost leaning out over the canal. I was somewhat tired by this point, but decided to hit the Archaeological museum, the Carrero and the library in the buildings around the Piazza San Marco. One of the exhibit rooms, not in the library oddly enough, had a very cool book on display: red velvet covered, with silvery pewter corner designs. I wandered up and down the long corridor of the museums, occasionally peeking out into the Piazza. There were lots of wonderful chandeliers as example of Murano glasswork, and lots of examples of Greek statuary in the archaeological section of the interconnected museums. The sheer size and number of wall and ceiling paintings were overwhelming. I saw the largest oil painting in the world on one of the walls in the Palace, but the ceiling painting in the same room wasn't much smaller. The lion of Venice was represented in lots of different mediums, usually with it's front paws on land, it's hind on the waves, to represent dominion over both. My camera batteries were running low all day so I was lucky the film was actually advancing after each picture. The Piazza was crowded with tons of school groups and the San Marco water bus stop was busy, so I walked to the next one closer to Lido, Arsenal, and caught the boat there, standing on the open deck, hat cord firmly under my chin to guard against errant breezes.

Back on Lido, I did a run to the grocery store and picked up some brie, rolls, and more water, then dropped off the two completed rolls of film for processing at a place that would do it in half an hour per roll. Snacked on the bread and cheese in my room, wrote up the notes from the day then went back to pick up the film. I took the pictures to the bench by the water bus stop and looked at them there while basking in the sunset again. The water of the lagoon was more colbat tonight, and looked very beautiful with the yellow piling lights and ship lights tracking across it. All of the pictures came out okay, luckily. After checking them, I went for a long walk along the lagoon, up past the larger ferry stop, past the military base to get over to the other side of the island where the beaches were, but they were all fenced off after dark. I stopped to call my parents at the pay phone by the water bus stop (later examination of my credit card bill shows a charge of $30 for the call, which was all of 5 minutes long) to let them know I was still alive. I decided to get a cherry gelato for the short walk back to the hotel from there, and "creepy scooter accident man" aka Michael asked me to sit and talk with him for a while. I ditched him when he started inching closer to me along the bench. So much for meeting new and interesting people while on vacation. Back to my hotel room, checking for him following me, and wrote up the pictures so I would remember when and where each one was taken. Asleep by midnight.

Wed Apr 4

Something woke me at 8 or 9am, but I turned over and went back to sleep, waking up finally at 1pm when a young bell hop came by with housekeeping. I sleepily told them to come back later and set about waking myself up. Had bread and cheese for breakfast, after finding the small fridge inside the desk. Walked over to the vaporetto but ended up waiting for the second boat to be sure I got on the right one - the crowds were blocking the line number. I stayed in the covered stop, which swayed as the waves moved it, and occasionally bounced jarringly against the dock when a boat would hit it too hard. I rode the next boat over to San Marco, and a cursory look didn't reveal the tourist office promised in a guide book I had a few photocopied pages from. I took a picture of the Basilica from the Piazza then entered and went straight up to the balcony to see the bronze horses up close. They'd been part of the tribute ships were required by law to bring back on every voyage to decorate the church, traveling from Constantinople to Venice to Paris and then back to Venice. I managed to guard my audio box from the various tourists trying to change the language on me as I gazed out from the balcony into the main body of the church. I forked over the extra lira to see the treasure room and was sufficiently creeped out by the reliquaries to not spend too long browsing. Thigh bones, hands and ashes of saints and martyrs abounded. I left the church and wandered back towards the Rialto bridge, finding a small shop that sold a box of Lady Grey tea, in loose leaf format, so I snapped it up. I tend to grab it whenever I can find it, since I've yet to locate a Boston provider. I've seen it in Montreal, Plymouth, and Hilton Head, but not Boston. I grabbed a pizza margherita to go and found a spot to sit by a gondola stop.

I tracked down the Frairi church and saw the wooden statue of St. John the Baptist by Donatello - he was very haggard looking, not the rounded healthy representation that I was expecting. I saw Bellini's Madonna and Child Enthroned with Four Saints - the saints looked amazingly life like - and Titian's Assumption. I think that the one Titian that I had seen before, in a gallery in Toronto, a portrait of a girl with red hair, had made me assume that he always used his signature red. The ceilings were huge, but plainer than the gold mosaics of St. Marc's. The pyramidical tomb of Canova dominated one side of the main room, with a lovely draped lady carrying an urn, and an angel reclining. It was opposite a huge monument to Titian, almost as big as the one to St. Antonio. Outside again, I managed to snap a couple of pictures of the entrance despite the group of rowdy school boys doing their best to get in everyone's way. A mint gelato sustained me on my walk to the tip of that island, heading to Santa Maria D. Salute.

Pictures of Salute:

This became my favourite church in Venice, mostly for the reason it was raised: to give thanks for the end of the plague and to commemorate the victims of the same. It was very peaceful inside, organ music filled the space and the setting sun lanced through the windows, turning the tiles golden. I sat on the steps of Salute for a while and enjoyed the gorgeous view of San Marco across the canal. I walked a little bit further to the tip of the island and enjoyed the wonderful breeze coming off the lagoon. I decided to try and catch a traghetto over to S. Maria De Giglio, to get a cheap gondola ride and get across the canal faster than walking all the way back to the bridge, but after waiting a while, none came to get me. I walked back to the Academia bridge and over it. I found the church, but it had closed at 5, so I just took a picture from outside.

Walked back to San Marco, and sat for a while in the Piazza, taking in the crowds and resting my feet, until a dashing young man in black came over and talked to me. I said that I didn't speak Italian, and he backed away as if he feared that I'd be offended. I kind of welcomed the opportunity to talk to someone who wasn't a shop keeper or a waiter by then, but he disappeared too quickly to find out why he was breaking off the conversation. I walked to the gardens, and used up the last of my roll of film.

I got on the bus boat there, and dropped off my roll of film for processing on Lido at the same place as last time - to pick it up tomorrow morning at 9:30am. Got water and fuji apples. Need to shower and pack tonight for Rome. Remember to take pictures of the hotel (oops). Also went into a very neat costume shop - tons of rats and bones and painted velvet clothes. Tempted by some of the bustiers. All the cuff links that I saw were gold, with the Murano glass. Got back to the hotel at 8 or so, wrote until 8:40. Wore my hate again today, but found a way to snap the string between the closures on my polar fleece so the wind wouldn't catch it (had to take it off in the churches, of course). Not as brilliantly sunny today, the evening is turning misty. Fraria had big wooden thing with seats for the priests, reminiscent of St. George's chapel in Cambridge UK. Salut had middle circular area cordonded off, great view across the width of the Black Madonna and Child paining over the alter. Rounded panes in window were tinted slightly green or purple, reminiscent of Seattle's underground where the light was coming down from above through wavy purple glass. Took pictures of the statue by San Marco and the public garden, lots of details in the women's dress, and of cobble stones in a fan pattern on the walk - hopefully they don't write over each other (they did, or at least the stones didn't come out). Really want to get a tricorn hat, a white 1/2 mask and the lace to wear below it, so have a Carnivale costume. Should have checked prices today to compare in Rome, ah well. No sign of good flat soled boots yet. Inner thigh ligaments killing me - maybe take a a spa in Rome? :)
Took a long hot shower and massaged my legs a bit and it seemed to help. Ended up eating a cliff bar after all. Finished "Innocent Erendira" collection and started on "News of Kidnapping". Packed up almost everything - books in suitcase make it a lot bulkier. No luck with the phone to make a double wake up call, so off to sleep at 11:38. It rained for a while while I was reading.

Thur Apr 5

Waffle wave blanket has been keeping me nice and warm, should see about buying one. Coverlet in closet. Tossed and turned a lot last night, worried about sleeping late, plus slept late yesterday. Lots of dreams of being pick-pocketed. Did nails before sleeping - black with blue over it on my fingers, and black on toes. Raining this morning, closed shutters after one half banged shut already. Snooze on alarm is greater than nine minutes. Bread and cheese and apple (last ones!) for breakfast. Going to dig out keys and locks for suitcase and backpack. Woman at photo store spoke French to me after I admitted that my name was French - neat how natural it felt to say "merci". :) I got the Reserved rate when I checked out of my hotel, and they'll try to give me the same room when I get back from Rome. Raining for real, turned up my collar and went to pick up the film. Bit of a wait, got 2 postcards as well. Boat there as I walked up, and I took the number 1 all the way down the Grande Canale, to Ferrozia. Saw a DHL courier boat, a but parallel parked at the S. Maria Giglio, emergency boat with a siren on sped by as we were passing the Rialto bridge. I sat inside the boat's covered area, wiping off the condensation on the windows every so often. Gorgeous iron work, columns on mansion front doors. Lots of people loading and unloading deliveries as well. I had gotten on the bus at 10:20 and was at the train station by 11:30. Had a chicken burger standing up in the cafeteria - bought ticket and then got food. Birds caught inside the terminal were flying about.

I talked to a couple from Ohio while waiting for the train to be cleaned on track 7. I ended up in a back facing seat despite picking a forward facing on on entry, as the train turned around past Florenzia. The couple were big bridge players, and been all over North America. On the train (my writing gets even worse here). The sun came out, and Bologna was pretty as we passed through, with an old church up on the hill. Didn't see much of Padua, just outside Venice. Trip to Florence was very hilly, lots of tunnels (after I wished for them, I love tunnels), but they're not as cool when you can only see the black sides of the tunnels. Lots of farmland, 1 flock of sheep spotted so far, lost of red tiled brown adobe like houses. Listened to the Cure and now have the Moors in my cd player. Need some water, maybe some tea? The conductor finally punched my ticket. Think the Italian family beside me didn't have enough seats, the Dad ended up sleeping, mouth open but silent, across from me. Lots of terraces on the steeper slopes. Anywhere but so close to the Alps, hills like these would have had ski slopes cut into them. Pulled into the station in Rome, I was one of the last ones out of the train. I got a map and headed out to Casa D'Este, and found it no problem. Drivers are crazy, here, though. I'm on the fourth floor, five floors up. The room is tiny, but I'm used to it by now, when reserving a single room in Italy, you get just enough room to walk around the single bed. The room smelled a bit smoky, I asked about changing to another one, they said it was a non smoking one, showed me room 114, probably better, but the bathroom was worse, so sticking with this one. Went out with my brolly in hand against the rain to find the colloseum. Got 1.5L of water and drank it down. I found the fourum, and then the colloseum. Very beautiful at sunset, with the moon rising above the ruins. Will try to get to the colloseum at 12:30 for a group tour.

Get breakfast at the hotel, too, apparently. Dizzy hungry, found pasta ria or something. Bruschetta and fuzzilli in cream and mushroom sauce. Very good, far too much of it, esp. with another 1L of Pellegrino water. Another guy came in by him self as I was almost done, I could tell that he was not used to eating my himself. I had to pass on the tartufo, I was that stuffed. Got lost walking home, until I checked my map - think did a detour through the market / bad area I'd been warned about. Up to room, very tired. Dinner much less expensive that I thought it would be. Rome is much more metropolitan than Venice, lots more diversity. Scooters are everywhere. 10:55pm.

Fri Apr 6

Woke up at 8am, noise outside - more birds. Can hear a clock tower's bells from here. Alarm went off at 9, but actually got up at 9:30. Breakfast downstairs - grapefruit juice, chocolate croissant, cornflakes. Shower. They cleaned floors outside - lemon smell. Train ticket back to Venice, goth shop, and catacombs today, I think. 10:30am.

10:30pm. Did all that. Still convinced that Rome is far too urban for my tastes. To the train station first, got the ticket no problem, though eerily enough, it's for the exact same seat I had coming here, car 8, seat 48. Leaves here 1pm, though. Tired to find the 218 bus at stops by terminal, no luck. Finally looked at map, when concierge said San Giovanni, he meant the metro, not the street. Walked down there, grabbed a mediocre gelato on the way. The bus was there, got on with a ticket bought at the terminal and settled in. Next stop a ton of kids got on. Was very glad it was not me driving, though I'm getting almost suicidal crossing streets. The bus dropped us off in front of San Calisto Catacombs at 12:15pm, but it turned out that they were not open until 2:30pm after closing at noon. I walked over to Domitollo (?) catacombs, and it was the same thing, closed for a long lunch. I walked back to S. Calisto, down to Quo Vadis church. It was very sunny, and I walked through a tree lined driveway and then a field of poppies. Stopped and saw a lizard in a bush but some concrete steps up to a field. It was very quiet, others were hanging out waiting for 2:30 as well. Had everything I was carrying in the pockets of my cargo pants, giving my shoulders a break from the bag. Meant to sit on the grass, but ended up walking to San Sebastian (also closed) and past it to a monument to Cecelai Metella where I tried to avoid school kids. Walked back to San Callisto, finally getting ahead of the kids - good thing I don't understand Italian - and behind some nuns.

The nuns were in line for tickets at the catacombs, so I joined them, got entry and went into a huge line. They called the French, German, Italian, and Spanish groups before English. Father Richard kept joking about losing his way as he toured us through the tunnels. I only saw two bodies, in the chapel they set up - people were stealing bits of them, so all were moved down to the next level. We stayed on level 2, at about 30 feet underground. Cool, high ceilings where they'd dug down through volcanic rock to excavate, with shadowy shelves up to the ceiling. Donated statue of a martyr, her fingers extended and and three on other hand - they found her preserved like that after hundreds of years when they moved the body. Saw chamber of 6 (?) popes, and apparently one thousand martyrs also there, though some moved with the popes. By the time got to the chapel and the Father's blessing, claustrophobia began to hit - I was with a pretty large group. Neat to see fragments of the oil lamps that they used to light it when they came down to celebrate secret catholic masses. Very creepy when he told of one pope the Romans surprised in the chamber of popes and killed - beheading is a common way - as we were in there. There are 12 miles of tunnels, very easy to get disoriented. Can tell it wasn't America though, many corridors were unbarred. I bought a postcard for Tony to thank him for the suggestion of visiting the catacombs (the counter dude was contemptuous of my 300 lire purchase) - just filled it in, I did have his zip code after all, not Sue's though. Should call Mum and Dad for it. Bit of a wait for the bus, and then I didn't push enough, so I lost my place in line. Ended up standing right at the back. Rode back to the end of the line in Rome.

Walked to the Colloseum, despite one wrong turn. Line across the courtyard, so skipped it, looked at the monument to Victor Emmanuel II -> apparently it's really a monument to the unification of Italy, but it still seemed huge and vain. I grabbed a mozarella and mushroom crushed flat toasted sandwich with water at a small bar. Water at the second catacomb was going for 3000 lira from an opportunistic cart. It was pretty there, at the gardens I think I spotted a vent shaft in a filed by Callisto). Walked down Vai de Corso - the crowds were amazing. I missed the Pantheon, went into a church instead and then out.

Found the goth shop Bacillario - PVC jacked I tried on was too big, handkerchief skirt not flattering, jackets too big. Tried on some New Rocks - binding across the top of the foot. Really tall London Underground with speed laces and buckles up the back were tempting. 310k lire ~= $160US ~= $250CDN. Hrm. May or may not go back for them - should check Dok's site. Not as many pictures today. Popped into a few stores trying to find pull on boots and a sweater. Got expensive (3000lire) gelato. Past hotel to Chinese restaurant, no English speakers, ended up getting my chicken lychee and spring rolls to go, but at 9k lire not much more expensive than the 6k lire lunch, though still hungry. Tried watching TV but no stomach for more Italian. Washed face with jasmine scrub that I couldn't resist at Body Shop. Should travel with a scented candle or incense for icky hotel rooms. 11:11pm. Vatican tomorrow and maybe check out the Krype site. Maye if up really early, go into the Coloseum. Feet very very sore. Soaked them in sink a bit. :)

Sat Apr 7

Ignored alarm, but dragged self out of bed by 10 for breakfast. Yoghurt, tepid tea, pastry and jus de pamplemousse. Going to try colloseum to avoid going to the Vatican until after 2:30, though may ask at the desk first. Bit colder today, may rain? 11:03am.

7pm. My feet are in outright rebellion after 8 hours of walking. The weather cooperated again, just started raining hard now. Wore turtleneck and wool sweater and it was good once noon passed, and even before with the wind. Walked through the Oppio garden to the colloseum, line up was across the apron, up the stairs and along the walk, so gave up again. Walked to the Metro stop at Manzonin and took it to Cipro / Musee Vatican. Lots of graffiti, same price as the bus. Over the river on a bridge. Got to Sistine Chapel at 1pm (after a stop to try and get a bra, bad fit with sizes 3-4 I'm in between or something). On Saturdays it closes at 12:30. *sigh* Walked around the wall to the Piazza San Pietro, lots of columns around it. Went into San Pietro, around all the chairs set up in the piazza. Didn't wait in line to go up to the cupola, but walked all around the nave. Huge! Not as impressive as San Marco though. :) Not as many gold mosaics. Neat twisty columns on the thingy over the alter. Used my last picture on the piazza on the way out. I bought a stamp and a card at the Vatican post office - wrote one to Mum and Dad and mailed it and Tony's.

Next I went into Castel Sant Angelo - huge St. Michael statue on the roof, saw bits of the original sword and sheath and a detached hand with a metal sword. Nice view of the Bridge of Angels. Neat cannon and a huge crossbow in the courtyards, and white cannon balls. Amazing wall paintings, one cool griffin I regret not sketching, very sinuous. They had you walk all the way around before getting to the ticket booth. The washroom was kind of neat, with a self contained toilet and sink and hand dryer.

I found the Pantheon next. Open air, fairly crowded, but again, huge. Dome had a circular opening in the top, the sun shone through onto the side of the dome. Very rough stone work and then Christians took over the bottom. Two big tombs inside. Had gone down into the tombs at San Pietro - lots of popes. I cut over to Trevi fountain, getting the best tartufo gelato ever - huge amounts for one scoop at 2500 lire. Stopped for lunch first, a shrimp salad pizza from a take away joint. Very pretty server, no English, though. Gorgeous stone work at the fountain, especially in the sweep of the hippogryph's tail. I took a wrong turn onto Triton, and then back to Via De Corso, finding an Anglo-American book shop on the way - got "Tropic of Cancer" and Oscar Wilde's fairy tales (want to get Miller's novel about his life with Jane). Detoured to see if I could find Krypta but a different bar was at the address that I had. Made the right turn, and got down (after up) into the Forum. Walked through and ended up at the Colloseum at 6, very short line this time, so went in. It closed at 6:30 but I was able to get out before they started hunting me down. No audio guides were left by the time I got there, I wish they gave out more paper documentation. Wonder if it used to be paved over, labyrinthine passages and cubbies were under the modern board walks. It started drizzling as I was in the colloseum, I headed back to the hotel just before the downpour. I put my feet up for a while, be hungry, may go next door to Mae's. Of the top 12 attractions on my map, made it to 8, may try really early for Sistine Chapel tomorrow before heading back to Venice - have an extra public transit ticket left since I walked back from the Vatican. Put on dress pants and vest, grabbed trench coat and umbrella and got a recommendation from the guy at the hotel front desk. The hotel elevator has a door you open when the car arrives, glass insets in the door let you see pianos as go by. Next to Hotel Montreal. Got soaked as turning a corner, cars going too fast. It was the restaurant I'd passed earlier - had fettuccine with seafood, amazing mussels, small clams, messy shrimp, good tomatoes, with a salad after of mozzarrella, tomaotoes and basil - didn't finish the last one. Had white tartufo - coffee flavour in centre, vanilla outside and a nutty sugary coating. Long wait for the bill - the Brits at the next table were swearing, smoking and drinking. I ended up getting up and paying at the cash register. Got a dark chocolate egg. Not raining like the downpour earlier, but still a good shower. Had read a bit of Happy Prince while waiting for the meal, from the fairy tale collection. Need to pack up for tomorrow, put pants up to dry. Going to call Dad. At the castle, saw eapme or maybe original of the armature inside the big St. Michael statue. 10:24pm. Called and talked to Mum for hopefully 10 mins, but 15 at most. Got Sue's address for post cards - the street number that I had for her was wrong. At Adrian's Monument that I saw the huge chest that was the Vatican treasury. Bound with strips of metal, the top of it propped up must have been greater than five feet tall, and wider than that. I like seeing things that tie together monuments.

Sun Apr 8

As I half expected, I woke on my own at 7:30am. Gave up trying to sleep at 7:45, got dressed, packed, and went down for breakfast. Brought a bag of Lady Grey tea with me and had it, but the water really wasn't hot enough. Check out is at 11am, headed out by 8:30 for last touristy gasp. Used leftover bus ticket at Metro stop down the street, Vitorro Emanuel, long walk to train. To Cipri and Museum, fast walk to the Sistine Chapel, it was supposed to open at 8:45, I got there at 9, but it was closed today due to the proximity of Easter. *sigh* My bus ticket was still valid (less than 75 minutes since it was used), so took the metro back to Spagna after grabbing a roll of 36 film exposures - 12000 lire! Saw church on the mountain (aka Trinita De Monti) with flower pots all the way up the ton of stairs. There was a neat fountain at the base, suns pouring water out into a boat. I climbed up the stairs, got a good view from the top, could see the Vatican. Service sounded in progress, so didn't go into the church on the mount. There were hieroglyphs on an oblelisk in front of the church. Walked back down the stairs again, up through the metro to Villa Borghese. Very pretty park, a replica statue of Byron was near the entrance. Walked down to the Musee Borghese, but you needed a reservation to enter. Lots of jogger, and tandem and four wheeled bikes. There were lots of coniferous trees with solid looking pine cones and high branches (ed: I love the picture, it looks like another planet). Could imagine Byron cantering down the drive to the villa. The air was dawn fresh and washed clean, very sunny again. Time was running short (it was a bit after 10am) so I headed back to the hotel - same ticket since the machine wouldn't give me change for 10k lira. Up to room, bathroom, no time for shower, packed up coat liner in backpack and down to check out - gave key to maid. Rate as promised, need to double check that I wasn't charged for it when I reserved it, nothing on printout. May have just been a credit check? Sitting in lobby, killing time until train at 1pm. Should get food for the train ride, water especially. Very impressive old wall along road to villa, brown brick at least four stories hight - villa medici behind it, I think, though all I saw were city streets. So. Not sure if it was worth getting up so early, but maybe can nap on train. 11:20am.

Read fairy tales for a bit until noon or so, then made way to train. Got large water and Sam Bacetti and was way over charged for them (5100lire). Train ready, in from Milan so at seat now. Alone in my quad until Firenzia, then one guy came and sat diagonally from me. Got a vegetable focaccia at the snack bar, Dozed for a while. It rained a bit but the sun came out as we pulled into Rovigo or so. Old guy got on without a ticket at Firenzia, looking for a seat and confusing everyone until the conductor sold him a seat. Drank by water quickly after Mestre, finished fairy tales. Took 51 bus to Lido, went around the the other way, not through Grande Canal. Stopped to drop off two rolls of film to be processed, to force myself to go out again - she almost remembered my name, but as Natalie. The water was like liquid silver at Giardini. I checked into my hotel, got the same room, and the porter brought my bags up in the insanely small elevator, though I think this one can hold three, not like the two person limit in the Rome one. Wrist sore, dazed tired. Should see about Vivaldi concerts. Unpacked. Found out that I was missing breakfast during the whole of my last stay here, 7:30am-10am, try to make it tomorrow. Decided to splurge on pistachios from the mini bar. 7:15pm.

Got film and sat on a bench by the water to look over the prints - three pictures from the Vatican are way over exposed, near the end of the roll, no idea why. Saw a gorgeous, breathtaking, amazing sunset - the water shaded from green to pink on the sun track to green, the sun sinking behind one of the islands, a fiery ball outlining the trees in black, the sky swept with clouds, back lit, pink, green, blue, rose, orange. Amazing. Tried a few pictures. *crosses fingers* {these ones came out}

Mon Apr 9

Woke with alarm at 9am. Threw on clothes and took just key, and wore sandals. Down for breakfast. Busy. Stuffed self: cereal, bread and jam, croissant, fruit salad, tea and juice. Wrist/thumb sore. Up to room, but they were cleaning it, so I grabbed my purse and went to the front desk. Bought a ticket for tomorrow's Four Seasons concert at San Bart. No masseurs on Venice or Lido, all in Mestre. Got directions to hospital if need it but took hot shower after and feel better. Dug out receipts for thinks I'm bringing back, addressed the 2 cartolinas I have. Will write them and post them today. To Murano today I think after a walk down to the beach. Finally got a map of Lido, it and an another long island guard the lagoon. A bit cool today it seems. 11:30am.

Tonight, arm is okay. Walked down to beach, wrote two cards there. Very sunny. Large transport ships were passing by in the distance. Picked up a shell that didn't reappear until tonight. Waves and wind were very refreshing. Creepy old man oggled the topless sun bathers. Need to come back tomorrow with more cares. Walked on lots of shells in the sand. Over to the ACN stop, bus to San Marco and then another one to Murano with a one day ticket. Wandered around glass shops. Visited museum with the ticket from the Palace. Decided on a store to patronise and got 2 tiny glass flies for myself, went to find an iridescent beetle at a good price as well, and a zodiac pendant for Mum, normal pendant for Sue, bottle for canal water for Michael. May get ink for Quang. Pendants for the women at work? Wandered through a cemetery after picking up an apple to munch on (was supposed to weight it and get a tag on it - oops) - lots of pictures, flowers on the graves, took a picture of one of the mosaics. Mostly ground and stacks of boxes. Had half a sandwich and water for lunch, got an amaretto ice cream where the guy was contemptuous of my lack of exact change - it was 1200 and I only had 1100 or 1500, I think he took 1100 from my palm. Had bought water at a store on Lido, but it was fizzy, left it when bought the gelato - chocolate with nuts. Saw part of a glass blowing demo, the artist was picking out the horse's legs from the molten body.

Murano pictures:

Found a stop to get to Burano - long ride. Got off one stop early, walked around the island to the Burano stop, the houses are very colourful. Got to the museum at 6, it had closed at 5. Checked out lace shops - gorgeous work. Various shops had women making lace in them. Tempted by tops in one store but they were pricey due to the amounts of lace on them. Caught the bus to the other side of San Marco island. Sunset over Venice was gorgeous. Had bought a cookie to tide me over, it was chilly walking towards Zacharia. Stopped at Marco Polo for dinner. I was at a corner table, the waitress had short spiky hair. Gnocchi with lobster sauce (thought I think they just waved the lobster over it, not much flavour to it) with chocolate tartufo coated in chocolate powder for dessert. Piazza San Marco is very nice in the dark - lamps not as purple as I thought they would be. Caught the #1 bus back to Lido, walked one street over from where I normally went and found a supermarket. Someone doing laundry in the dining room, so I went through the patio and up to my room, where I found ants all over the entry way. The front desk only has mosquito killer, will fix tomorrow, though I seem to have killed most of them. Watched a bit of TV, making of 'Jaded' though missed some of the scenes they talked about - probably due to bad signal on MTV Europe. Postcards and 2 more museums tomorrow, then on to Church art. Bus pass good until noon or so if it's really good for 24 hours. Passed another carneval costume shop and a fabric shop. Another bra shop carried see through straps. Need cuff links or something for Dad - mail them? 11:13pm

The Adriatic sea is cold. Got a bit stressed today, think dealing with the language barrier and others snippiness is getting to me, as well as the crowds. May just sleep in tomorrow and relax, I have the concert to look forward to, but need to remember my coat for the trip home. Ticket was checked twice today, on the way to and from Burano - same guy, maybe only one boat? The bus from Burano back to Lido was crowded, so took off and got cookies but when back found out it only went once an hour so that's why I went round the long way.

Tues Apr 10

Closed the shutters to keep the sun out totally, but my eyes still popped open at 9am. Showered slowly, thinking had lots of time, but ready at 9:50 and dashed down the stairs for breakfast. Ate too fast, when could have tarried, they were still bringing in croissants just before I left. Had some of my lady grey tea that I brought. Pastries were good, though. Used up my 24 hour ticket getting to Murano, ended up repeating St. Elena to Zucheria in reverse, but oh well. Found ivy etched wine glasses that I like so much. Six for 126K lire! But worth it, diamond etched and very light. Took pictures of San Donato Square where the bus let me off: I found a whisky glass for Dad. Confused about where to get a ticket for the trip back, ended up back at museum stop and bought one on board. To San Marco and straight back out to Lido. Everything closed but for one restaurant. Famished. Bought post cards and so out to eat and write in them and hopefully g et them sent out today. Need batteries for palm! 3pm.

Sat on the beach until 5pm, after getting a mozzarella sandwich and a mediocre yoghurt and berry gelato. The sand is very soft. Sun came out as finished writing my 10 postcards, so I lay back in the sand and basked for a while, sandals off while sitting of course. Saw an emaciated looking timid greyhound sticking close to 2 women, as a shepherd bounded around them. Two boys were playing soccer, one had to run into the ocean as he missed a kick. My sandal broke, the strap came off the sole at the ankle, so I ended up step-flapping back to hotel. Shower and now changing for the concert. Need water and 4 stamps for the US, 8 for Canada. Wonder if the Vatican is the only place to differentiate or if North America is the only place that has 2 or 3 rates, at least in Toronto it's stamps for Canada, stamps for the US, and then stamps for the rest of the world. 5:30pm.

No luck finding amaretto candies at a shop that sold that brand of candy, should ask at the front desk as they left them on my pillow. Didn't' end up getting enough water, slugged down 1/2L from the room fridge. No stamps either. put on my black empire waist dress and touched up and ruined the blue polish on my nails, splurged with eye liner and lip stick and went out to catch the boat. Took the #1 to Rialto. Found the statue in the square of San Bart. but the restaurant that the guide Marilyn recommended was now a Chinese restaurant. Found another place - expensive, but great food. Fish appetiser, ate a calamari head, but skipped the squid and the other thing's head though. A French couple seated at the table next to me that the waiter moved 2cm away. Guy also spoke Italian and English. He and his wife at one point talked about how they'd never eat alone - like I have a choice. *sigh* Bills from tons of different countries on the wall, 2 US, Bolivian, Czechoslovakian, Belgian, Luxemborg, etc. Had scallops and pasta for my main course and berries with cream and grappa for dessert - yum, But 1 hour was not quite enough, they took 10 minutes + to get my bill, plus 5% for credit card - couple next to me done first and I didn't get to the church until 8:50. Got a seat at the end of the aisle row that was decent until intermission with people past me. Two encores, one a piece by Paganini that caused me to buy a CD from them - listening to it as I write. The cello player was very flamboyant. The church was also the instrument museum, so violins up to the 1600's I think, as I walked around during intermission. Walked back to San Marco, quicker than I thought. Tons of purse, flower, and moving gadget sellers (the eyes of the dogs glowed red and the bunny's were green!) (the crawling and shooting soldiers were sort of neat but all the sounds were very annoying). The dancing Disney characters absent too. Purse sellers were African, flower sellers Asian. Bit of a wait at San Marco for the #1, walked away from the Bascilla and back first. Stood in the back, very neat effects on the water when the red and white lights cross their trails. The water level was quite high as we were leaving San Marco. Just warm enough with sweater and jacket. Straight to hotel, front door not locked. Into pjs, drank water, put on music and wrote. Museums tomorrow for real. 12:13am.

Wed Apr 11

So. I'm missing Covenant tonight. *sigh* Grey and misty today, a bit cool. Had an odd dream (in that it felt right) involving a couple of co-workers, one out and the other with her arm around a woman and kissing her. Dozed on and turned alarm off at 9:30. Down for a quick breakfast. Apparently full sized rooms do exist, with double beds and bathtubs and everything. :) I saw one as it was open for cleaning. Stamps first thing and then try the natural history museum and S. Maria Giglio. Figured out why the restaurants give out cards with maps on the back - so you can find them again! Galleria, Ca Fozari, Nat. Hist museum... Yesterday saw a cruise ship from Holland navigate the pass between Do Soduro and Guidecca - it was higher than most of Venice, only the bell tower really stood out. It went slowly, no wake at all, with a tug behind it. To post office when went out, cost three times more to mail the cards than they cost in the first place (1500 lire for both US and Canada - Vatican must be odd). Bought a return ticket and off to Accademia. Line at that gallery was around the corner, so decided to go to Ca Rezzonico, but it was closed for renovations. Popped into a lot of mask shops, finally found one a bit cheaper, but got burned on the lace head wrap thingy that goes under it. Paid cash. Raining harder. Found the natural history museum - closed for renovations as well. Over the Rialto bridge and passed Ca D'Oro first try, fonts of cheap good son sale in stalls on the Strada Nova, even a guy demonstrating a mop, all under tarps to keep the rain off. Backtracked and found the gallery. Some of the Dutch paintings looked like photographs, they were so detailed. A statue series of the virtues ended with Strength, a woman who's cape was held on via rings in the nipples of her armour. Could go out on balconies over the grande canal. Checked my shopping bag so I could wander unencumbered. Terracotta statue of Hercules and the giant was very cool - the muscles looked like they were straining. And a bust of a middle-aged to old man in marble was correct down to the wrinkles around the eyes. I put my umbrella up and made my was back to San Marco amide crowds of annoying skids, and the water bus there. Had grabbed a cookie and a water around noon, but still hungry. On Lido, the little supermarket opens at four. Got a sandwich and a pizza square, walked eating the square to the hotel. Going to have a quiet afternoon. reading and gloating over my tricorn hat (longest point is worn forward). 3:40pm.

Read for a while then ended up sleeping until 7:30. Odd dream involving friends back in Boston. Picnic and a walk toward the cinema for tonight I think. Know it all on the way to Murano was annoying - insisted that the pilings were rotting below the waterline and pointed out each example we passed to his companion. Then on Lido saw a sign berating people who shopped on Murano since all the prices there were inflated by a 35% commission - though the list of people it's paid to made no sense. Tempted to ask for a discount in price... Just missed the small grocery store's opening hours - he locked the door behind a customer as I walked up. Coop was closed too. Got two scoops of lemon sherbert at Bar Inconntru in a neat plastic cup - orange and almost fluted. Kept the spoon for the yoghurt tomorrow.

Walked along Laguna, when they decided what colour to call Royal Blue, they got it from the water here. Absolutely breath taking. One island a low black streak breaking the line of orange lights that formed the boundary between the dark blue of the water and the 2 shades of lighter blue of the sky. Pilings on a close island (gondola poles bare wood, hotels seem to stripe theirs) black strokes against the water. Crossed the island to the Adriatic side, in front of the casino area was a beach with a railing and a paved part. Watched waves break on the shore, as it misted rain. A lit up cruise ship sailed in the middle distance and tankers in the far. The waves crashed up against a break water - makes you believe in tritons (they're shown here with two legs that are scaled and end in flippers) and hippogriffs. As the waves broke on the shore, they seemed like layers of water like some glass sculptures I've seen. I continued on, thinking of relationships. Saw Saint Sebastian with arrows at the gallery today - eyes up to heaven but damn, it looked painful. Across from a hotel near the S. M. Elisabetta, a gate to the beach was open. It was kind of creepy, so I only stayed at the end of the walk were I had gone before for a bit. Two girls I'd passed earlier in my walk in matching red jersies peeked in as I was coming out. Down the main street. Heard loud thunder or shots, 3 went off, no idea why. Turned on to the cafe passing as they went off. Mozza and tomato sandwhiches and water I scarfed down. A creep in the bar was looking at me, so I ate fairly quickly and went back to the hotel. Got them to bring me up another water. 10pm. Hope I can sleep after my nap!

Thur Apr 12

As I suspected, I tossed and turned for a while last night. Ended up dreaming about arm wresting guys and worrying that I was no longer lifting weights. Woke on my own at 7:30am. Shower, down for a quiet breakfast - the new busgirl hovered annoyingly. The one from yesterday remembered my room number. Missed Vivaldi played in costume last night - poster was put up late. Try to find Vivaldi's church today, try the Accademia gallerias first thing, traghetto to S. Maria Giglio - need to find a box or a new water proof bookbag or else post the wine glasses back. Almost 9 now, hopefully the stores are open.

Got off at Giardini, took pictures of statues there. Walked to San Marco. I went up the bell tower just after 10 and the ringing of the bells. The mountains were very clear, snow capped. Crowded up there, only room for 2 people at each window. No breeze, Wonderful views of Venice, but I wish my camera wasn't taking sepia printed photos.

Finally got into S. Maria de Giglio. I think Tintoretto's my new favourite artist. Saw Madonna and Child by Rubens in a side chapel - could just see where Rubenesque description comes from. Found the Fortuny Museum after some backtracking - makes it only the lace museum that I didn't go to. Gorgeous lamps and photos from 1900 or so, Got a post card of the Saracen shield lamp, and at the end of the day I passed a store selling lamps in the Fortuny style. He did the lighting for La Scala and other theatres. The paintings were okay, fabrics lush. Across the body of the island to the 1st Ghetto and Madonna Dell'Orgo church - which has the grave of Tintoretto - lovely painting of the virgin presented at the temple by Tintoretto, and I grabbed a postcard reproduction. Walked along Misericordia trying to find the restaurant Paradisio Perduto that the Gaylean's in Chicago suggested, but no luck. Across to San Pietro - leaning large white tower outside it - after lunch in garden of smoked salmon and cheese on bread. One of the first two churches had a reliquary with bits of St. Francis of Assisi. Back to the grand canal, got a gelato, mama mia flavour, and went to the WC by the Sn Marco Pizza, then went towards Accademia but got distracted by a shop - got a glass bug after all, and a pen for Quang. Forgot to get some canal water for Michael, got on the water bus and went back to Lido. Dropped off film for processing, same place, and again I was called Natalie, and then back to the hotel. Think I got a tiny burn from the sun, put Noxema on my cheeks and nose. Hungry, cookie (Pan de Mozzo? good bread with raisins in it) and salmon not cutting it. To pick up film at 5:30pm, my just do dinner. Paid cash for the ink since Q as the last present. Need 19K for the airport, may go back for a gondola ride tonight, or not, only 100k in cash left. Hrm, take a nap and go back and hang out at S. Maria de Salute? Need a good place to watch the sun set on my last night in Venice... And need to pack, no joy on finding a water proof bag. From the bell tower saw the robots that ring bells on a lower tower - scaffolding hides them a bit, apparently they pushed a man off way back when, giving him the honour of being the first person killed by a robot. I really want a bedside table like the one here, it's perfect for holding a lamp an d books. Think I pretty much did all I wanted to do, except for 1 scola, but it can pass. Hopefully napping will make it easier to get onto a decent schedule quickly when I get home.

So much for the nap. :) Picked up film - got 39 exposures, most are okay, sunset ones all came out but there was lens flare on one. Finally ate at the place on S. M. Elisabetta - waiter rushed my selection didn't choose anything but grilled salmon steak. Did have a quarter litre of house white - very nice, but tipsy for an hour on one glass, didn't touch the second one. Long wait for the dish. Watched the beginning of sunset from Lido, then from the #1 front seat. Got off at S. Maria Della Salute. Sat for a while on the point, another guy was there, long hair in a pony tail with two bunches, neon yellow stripe on his black warm up suit. People zwooping around wooden barricade to get to the point. Guy said Ciao to me as he went the other way. Soon after I got up sat for a while on the steps of Salute. Water was too far down, I went around the the canal and negotiated the steps there to fill a water bottle. Over to Fondameta Zatterie, saw the guy again, as he stopped on top of the first bridge to admire the sunset over Mestre. I stopped at the second bridge, later and sat on a bench for a bit. The water is like quicksilver again. Made my way to the car park before turning back toward Accademia. I hit the canal too early, back tracked, Salute lovely all lit up by lights in the dusk. Found a bank machine on the Plus network and got out 200K lire to offset the hotel bill so hopefully can charge $500 to it and pay the rest cash. Sat a tiny while in Piazza San Marco. Gold mosaics catching the light - noticed this morning in the tower that angles above the horses have guilded wings. The golden angel on top of the bell tower was catching the light of the setting sun. Ran and was one of the last onto the #1 night bus. Better after Giardini and St. Elena, more room to stand. Tired. Had been lured into a sweet shop on the way to San Marco, girl asked guy if he liked it and he was all "mmmmmm". Asked for an assortment up to 5k lire, but three truffles were 5k lire. A bit put out, but they were so worth it. Almost enough liquor in them to get me tipsy again. Chocolate with soft chocolate inside, and orange chocolate topping. Mmmmm indeed. Nice and cool in here with the window open. Trying to work up to packing so can get out of here quickly tomorrow. Want to catch the 11am Alialaguna boat. 9:36pm. Labeled my pics. One more water from the fridge bar was consumed.

Fri Apr 13

Beautiful morning. Though I was disturbed by a neighbour talking on the phone at 12:30am. Up with my alarm at 8am. Stomach was bit upset last night, think the salmon was undercooked. Had seen a taxi at Lido as leaving the second time with the name Nicole. Down for breakfast - predominately English this morning, French yesterday. Have 2 hours to pack, shower, and check out and get to the Alialaguna stop. Managed to get everything into my suitcase and pack but for the wine glasses. Checked out, paying 200k lire cash and the rest on my bank card, which came to less than $500 thankfully. Slow walk with everything to the pier. Bought a ticket and sat in the shelter. Very early at 10:20. Read for a while. One Alialaguna boat came an d let people off but not on, no explanation. But as I was getting nervous, another docked behind it after 11:05. Same guys as for the trip here - bald guy just as relentlessly sexy. We went via Murano and then to the airport. Lots of dredging and construction where we had to slow down to 10mph. Near the airport one barge was blocking most of the way. It was low tide.

Can't check in yet, was here 2.5 hours early for my flight. Waiting for check in counter to come up on the info screen. For some reason one board displaying 13-04 continuously, while the other gives the time. Long terminal, walked past arrivals to get to counters, have to go further on to gates. 12:30.

Turned out that I was sitting by my check in counter, I was the second checked in, get to keep the glasses with me, they put a fragile sticker on them. Need to check in again in Frankfurt. Got through security with no problems, now at the gate where bus will take us out to the plane. Still lots of time before boarding. Hagen Daaz very expensive. Tartuffo grappa is tempting, no sign of vermouth though. Grappa = ?.

Frankfurt, B44 waiting lounge. I just did item by item conversions - was getting close to 2K lire to the dollar, guess it was good that I didn't know that before or I'd have spent more. :) Flight here was choppy going up and coming down. Got a cheese sandwich, and sleeping seat mates. Read Lufthansa's inflight magazine. On landing, trekked to the transfer point, long distance between gates here, got boarding pass and trekked through oddly lit tunnel to the concourse. Was quizzed more at the gate to the departure lounge for my flight than at passport control. They checked my visa and the passport itself twice. Waiting area quieter with no random people in it, I'll grant you that. Chocolates that I got in Venice were okay, but I wish I could have found the amaretto candies, but no sign of them or any vermouth. pizza and water at a stand. Bus to plane again, in through the tail. Kind of dazed, bu tat least no pain from air pressure changes. Realising more and more that it's Easter weekend - all sorts of good wishes flying about. Should double check date of Lee's dinner/reading and need to get modem fixed.

Boston. Moved to middle, end of four seat section, with 1 woman on the other end, since pair seat mate hogging arm rest. Watched news, sports, 49 dead in South Africa soccer match. :/ Veggie dinner - eggplant good. The movie was "What women want", good but for the ending. Crashed at about 11pm. Made my own tea. Pretty sunset as we were descending - all shaded pastels. Very tired, breezed through immigration an customs, got a new I94. Got Quang's phone, left a message. Up and down for taxi. Just put cases down when Q and Chris got here. Out with them for dinner and to Michael's after party for Tonya's birthday. Flew out on April fools and back on a Friday the thirteenth. Taxi home. Midnight, unpacked glasses - suitcase tomorrow, or maybe just the hat...

Back to my diary page.