We were exhausted when we finally climbed the stairs up to our rooms that first night in Venice. It was difficult to give in to sleep in such a wonderful city with all the sights and sounds it had to offer, but we had been traveling since the evening before, a long flight from New York's JFK to Milan, then a train from Milan to Venice, a quick stop in our rooms, and back out again to explore the streets of Venice and find that enchanting little restaurant.
My travel companions planned to get up early and explore more of the city, but I felt a need to sleep in, and ultimately was glad I did. It was warm that September night so I opened the bedroom window and lay there listening to the voices of the people passing by on the street below. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep only to wake in the dark to what sounded like gunshots. I lay there holding my breath while trying to make sense of what I was hearing. The loud voices persisted as did an occasional "gunshot." While I never did have the courage to get out of bed and look out the window, eventually I realized someone close by had a TV on and the volume was turned up. It was two or three in morning, and I was wide awake. As the morning dawned outside the window, the loud TV still blared away, and the morning sounds of delivery trucks and doors being opened and closed joined the campaign to keep me awake. That's when I finally fell asleep.
It was mid-morning and the sky was grey when I woke. A half hour later my travel companions returned from their morning walk. By the time I left the apartment it had begun to rain. I stopped at the shop on the corner and stood at a small counter where I ate a freshly baked croussant and drank freshly squeezed orange juice and watched people traffic as it passed by the big picture window. When breakfast was finished, it was time for the adventure to begin.
I popped open my umbrella and headed down the narrow street toward St. Mark's Square, occasionally bobbing up and down as I walked to avoid poking passers-by or being poked by someone else's open umbrella. Small leather shops, tiny restaurants, and a few footbridges later the narrow street opened into enormous St. Mark's Square. Rather than "opened" into the square, maybe a better word would be "spilled" into St. Mark's Square. By the time I arrived at the square it was pouring rain.
It was warm that day, which meant even as my summer dress began to soak up the rain, and my open sandals sank into the ankle deep water that had accumulated in spots around the square, I wasn't chilly at all. I believe it was around that time that I decided to abandon my umbrella, give into the rain, and enjoy Venice. As I stood in the square, the magnificant St. Mark's Basilica in front of me, I had an epiphany and decided to include my open, yet useless umbrella, in every picture I took that afternoon.
As a result, I created a complete and unique album of that afternoon in Venice. My open umbrella in front of St. Mark's Bascillica, next to the ages old lion statue protecting the basilica, on a bench in front of the square's beautiful clock tower. I left the square via a side street, and found myself standing on a footbridge. In the distance two more footbridges spanned the same canal and I recognized an imagne of the city I had seen before, but couldn't place where. I placed my umbrella on the footbridge and stepped back to take a photo as a filled gondola rolled closer. The wind picked up and moved the umbrella but luckily two young men were standing nearby and grabbed it before it went airborne and conked the gondolier on the head.
Moving on ... I turned the corner and there in front of me was the magnificant Grand Canal. The water was choppy in the Canal, making the hundred gondolas and water taxis parked at the blocks-long landing bob up and down precariously. Across the lagoon I could see the beauty of Venetian architecture on display. It was pouring rain, my hair and dress were soaked through, but it truly was a stunning moment.
Gradually, my umbrella and I made our way down the Grand Canal landing, crossing untold bridges, passing hotels and buildings from the 14th and 15th centuries, stopping near statues, at the water's edge, sometimes just stopping to drink it all in, always taking photos. I had only a vague idea of where I was in relation to where I was staying, but it didn't matter.
Eventually, and quite reluctantly, I wandered down a side street that I thought would bring me back to my apartment and, with a few minor detours, much to my surprise, it did. I climbed the stairs, and entered the apartment to find my travel companions, my completely dry travel companions, waiting for me.
To be continued ...