How To See Venice


Get lost.

Honestly, it's the best way to see Venice. There's literally something beautiful around every corner. The Rialto and San Marc's square are must-sees, of course. They're the major sights associated with Venice, but there's a myriad of beautiful buildings and views and bridges scattered all over the city. And the only way to find them is by accident. Not only that, but you get to experience the real, everyday Venice that most tourists never see. You'll find bakeries tucked away in alley corners and lion-headed door bells on dead-end streets. You'll see the laundry hanging over wrought iron balconies in the residential areas and hear accordian players outside restaurants. Fortunately, getting lost in Venice is the easiest thing in the world. You see, the signs that point the direction to the Rialto or San Marc's aren't exactly accurate. If you follow them, you end up in some abandoned square with no idea where you're suppoed to go next. If you don't follow them, you somehow end up at the Rialto. And once you cross the Rialto (which is actually a bridge, not the name of a river like I thought), it's only a matter of time before the alleys spit you out into the San Marc Piazza.

I was in Venice during Carnivale. It was freezing cold out so the streets weren't as packed full of people as I had been told to expect. Actually, the city didn't feel crowded at all but there were elaborate masks absolutely everywhere - on people, in stores, on stands in every street wide enough to hold a vendor. There were people in full blown masquerade costumes and even the gondalas were decked out in fine array. In the spirit of the day, I bought a mask myself. I didn't wear it very long (have you ever tried wearing a mask with glasses underneath? It's really awkward), but I now have an honest to goodness Venetian Carnivale mask :) 

Before I posted this, I kept trying to think of ways to describe what it was like to spend six hours walking around the city. Only two words came to mind: cold and beautiful. I'll be going back in a few weeks to see what Venice is like on normal weekends and to go inside San Marc's and a few other places instead of just admiring the outsides. I'm desperately hoping that it will be warmer by then. I might have something to say besides "cold" and "beautiful" then ;) Until then, though, these should give you an idea of what Venice is like:










Benvenuto, Italia!

I've been at Saints Bible Institute here in Italy for exactly five days now :) It's beautiful here, even in the dead of winter. It's also freezing cold. As in, I-can't-feel-my-toes-because-its-20-degrees-out cold. Fortunately for me, my work in the kitchen involves lots of hot water and steaming pots so, as long as I'm working, I don't notice the lack of feeling in my toes.

I had grand blogging plans for this trip but time and consistent Internet service are proving elusive. I even had a new series planned: Meandering Monday or Wandering Wednesday (I hadn’t really decided on a name yet). And it was going to be great. I was going to tell you all about whichever city/place I visited on the previous weekend and post all sorts of pictures and…yea, well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.

I will post about my excursions, I will. I just can't promise regular schedule, and it might be a few weeks after visiting a place instead of a few days. Classes start Monday, at which point my activities in the kitchen change a bit. I've been cooking with the founder of SBI, Sam Spatola, since I got here and it's been great fun. He gave me all sorts of good advice, such as: "Garlic, onions, and olive oil are our friends." And, "If you ever have trouble in an Italian airport, start crying." For the rest of the semester, though, the food is catered from a nearby restaurant. All I have to take care of is set up, serving, and clean up. So I won't be spending the majority of my day in the kitchen like I have been these past few days. I should have better Internet connection in the student lounge than in my room and, since they’ll all be busy studying, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get some posts up at a reasonably regular rate. If not, you've been warned.

We went to a city called Pordenone yesterday and after an hour of walking around cobblestone streets (I have a great fondness for cobblestone streets), we stopped for coffee. Well, they don’t have coffee shops in Italy. They have bars. Yes, you go to a bar to get coffee. Also, Italians don’t believe in regular drip coffee like American’s do. Nope. They make espresso and only espresso. You can add all the milk and sugar you want, but there is no such thing as weak coffee over here. As Sam said, "If you can see the bottom of your cup, it's not coffee."

I didn't get coffee though. I make espresso every morning for breakfast (although it probably doesn't taste the same as the espresso you order from a bar) and the hot chocolate was getting rave reviews by the girls who had been here before. So I ordered hot chocolate. Now I don’t know about you, but when I think hot chocolate, I think of the packets of mix and mini dried marshmallows that you add hot water too. That’s hot chocolate, right? Not here it isn’t. Here it’s more like pudding.  You can drink it with a spoon. I kid you not, I’ve done it. You can drink it when it first comes out because it’s still warm enough to be almost liquid. After a few minutes, though, you need the spoon to enjoy every last bit of the incomparably scrumptious, dark chocolatey goodness that is Italian hot chocolate.

In other news, my alarm clock died the night I arrived. It could be said that I killed it, but I maintain that jet-lag and more than 24 hours of wakefulness are the true culprits. I am confident that, had I been in full possession of my faculties, I would have remembered that a 120v doohickey requires something to convert it to 220v, not just an adaptor to make it fit in the socket. Well, Jet-lag and his buddy I’m-Awake-and-Shouldn’t-Be robbed me of that knowledge. I put an adaptor onto the alarm and plugged it in without hesitation. It blinked on and I set it on the floor to unpack something else, figuring I’d set the time later. When I turned around, it was dead. So…yea, note to all those who want to travel: everything except your laptop needs a power converter and an adaptor plug to work properly. Alarm clocks all over the world will thank you.

Oh, and I can see the Alps out my window. Welcome to Italy ;)