Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Venice Waterblogged Part One (the trip)

The City on Water. First of all, if you get the chance, go to it. It makes up for the excess of tourists with its beauty and atmosphere. However, I recommend that you wait until you have someone to explore it with.

On Friday I got on the train that would take me to Venice. Monica was wonderful and drove me to Brescia so I wouldn't have to switch trains halfway through. While I waited, I got a cappuccino (a real one) in a cafe in the train station. I thought of my dear friend Barbara and how she would like it because of the massive amount of foam in the cup. I got on the train and found a car that was nearly empty. I had an entire table to myself for the 2 hour ride. I waited until I heard the word "Venezia" and made my way off the train with my backpack.

The sight that greeted my eyes made me tilt my head in confusion. This did not look like Venice, or what the directions to my hostel described. The neighborhood I found myself more resembled an Italian ghetto. My stomach sank as I realized I had no idea where I was. I crossed the busy street in search of an internet cafe. I felt completely vulnerable as my mind searched for some sign of where I was, and nothing was found. I spotted and internet spot that doubled as a small casino. I walked in and was greeted my a row of rough looking men playing the slot machines. Great. I went up to the woman at the counter and asked to use the computer. I had to squeeze past a man to get to the tiny space. He smiled at me past his large nose. Once he helped me find the right button on the Italian keyboard and I found he spoke English. I was able to find directions to the hostel I was supposed to stay in, but this did no good because I was in the wrong spot. I returned to the train station with all of my resources exhausted. I looked and there was the man from the casino, sitting in the train station. He made caught eye contact with me with his eyes that reflected how bad he had been to his liver. "Is everything ok?" he asked. I had no choice. "Well I don't know how to get to Santa Lucia (the main street of Venice)." He got up, offered a smile and said "Oh, well I can show you how to get there." He showed me the bus stop, told me to get on bus #2 and to get off at the last stop. He told me he was originally from the Middle East and that he had been in Italy for 3 years, but was returning home soon. I thanked him for his help and walked to the bus stop.

I had no idea how to pay for this bus, so I prayed that I wouldn't get in trouble and just got on and off. No one stopped me. Don't judge, when you are a girl alone, lost in a completely foreign city, paying for a bus ride to the next city is low on your list of priorities. Finally I made it to Venice, and was greeted by a beautiful canal, water-buses, and gorgeous buildings. Ok, now to get to my hostel. My backpack and stress was making my back tighten up like a clenched fist. I asked directions to the street I needed to take, and the woman at the desk directed me to a bus. Well, according to Murphy's Law, if something can go wrong, it will. I happened to be standing next to an employee of the water-bus system, and he told me we were going the opposite way of my hostel. I tried not to let my face show how frustrated I was, but apparently failed, because he offered to show me how to get there. Can I just say that God provides at the perfect times? This man told the driver of the bus he would see him later, and he took me to the square I needed to be in. On the way, he told me which shops were fake, what were the tourist traps, the best places to eat, and things to be careful of. He wasn't flirtatious at all, and i didn't get a weird vibe from him. He took 20 minutes out of his day to help me get to where I needed to be. I thanked him for everything and felt my back's muscles release a bit of their death-grip.

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