For the next several days I am posting letters from my sister about her travels in Italy. Years ago, she and I travelled together. We had marvellous adventures and laughed till we couldn’t laugh anymore. Marriages and family put that on hold. Now she is travelling on her own again. I can’t wait to join her on the next trip. I hope you enjoy reading her letters as much as I have.
Walking around Venice at night it’s easy to believe that the clock has turned back about 500 years. I feel like I should be wearing a cape and riding in a gondola (the gondolas are expensive though.) I thought about putting Erik in a black cape for Halloween but I decided it would confuse him, although here I have seen a cat in a cape, so maybe it would have worked. (ed. Erik is my sister’s cat)
I set out this morning for San Marco square and the famous basilica; both were beautiful. The square had a live orchestra in tuxes at ten in the morning, and beautiful arcades with little shops on the sides.
From there I wandered twisty streets, stopping in church after amazing church along the way until I found a bridge crossing the canal to the Peggy Guggenheim museum. My taste in art tends to be more modern and this is a fantastic collection, in a palazzo facing the Grand Canal.
As I write this I just polished off an avocado, artichoke and orange salad (3 favourite things IN ONE SALAD!) And ordered a hot chocolate to finish. This is a very dark hot chocolate, and when you put a sugar cube in it (on it?) it doesn’t sink. It’s like hot chocolate pudding. I can’t drink it because it sticks to my face so I’m eating it with a spoon. Slowly, and as you may recall my caffeine sensitivity, its possible I may never sleep again.
Having a day (and tomorrow another) to do nothing by myself is taking getting used to, it’s been a while…but I find I’m thinking about art, rather than work, or day-to-day logistics, and that’s nice.
You would love this place…the twisty little streets with a perfect little shop of perfect handmade gloves next to a perfect little shop of handmade pens down the street from a perfect little shop of lacy things. I saw some shoes I drooled over, like my cheap red oxfords but in shades of blue and turquoise, hand-made so only one pair in a 7 and a half…too small. Oh and 650 euros. I suspect your birthday present will be coming from Venice (and no, it’s not those shoes…I know they are your size and much as I love you, not 650 euros worth for shoes).
So, as soon as my system recovers from chocolate shock (note I’m eating THE WHOLE THING) I’m heading off to check out some of the Biennale exhibits. Every two years Venice hosts an international visual art festival (one of the reasons I’m here rather than, say, Florence…)
This is a city for walkers…you know my fondness for just a few more steps – imagine the worst.
As you know, I don’t speak Italian but it turns out I speak more Spanish than I thought, because I keep having to keep myself from using Spanish, which of course would make me seem weird. (Why am I thinking in Spanish???) So I’m doing lots of smiling, like a retarded toddler, and people are very understanding…it is after all a tourist town.
I totally recommend Venice in November. There are tourists here, but not boatloads of them, so there aren’t any of the lineups I was warned about. And years of business travel have taught me that if you march into a large expensive hotel with enough confidence, you can find the conference area and magnificent bathrooms. And no one bothers you.