L’Observateur : Death in Venice Edition
The day before arriving in Venice, the city was hit by its fourth-worst acqua alta since 1872. After a few hours of rethinking the trip, I read an article about how many travelers were canceling their reservations, and that sounded like a great reason to go. The day I arrived the city was basically abbandonado.
The apartment I rented had two floors. The kitchen was on the bottom floor, but the internet connection was on the top level. One morning I made a coffee – left the gas on – and went upstairs to check my email. When I went back downstairs, the gas had been on for at least 40 minutes. I smelled it, immediately got light-headed and realized what was happening. I managed to turn the gas off and open the window before I passed out, but it was close. What can I say? I hadn’t had my morning coffee. Oh, the irony. Then I thought about Death in Venice. Oh, the almost-irony. Then I enjoyed a caffeine and propane high followed by a dull headache.
One of the only great things about Venice is that it is completely pedestrian. No cars, no buses, no trains, no mopeds, no bikes, no roller blades, no skateboards. Just feet – and boats in the canals. It’s very pleasant that way, but it brings up all manner of off-beat solutions like ambulance and postal boats. It was explained to me by a local that everything is more expensive in Venice because it is brought in by boat.
The boat-as-metro system in and around Venice is interesting when compared to that of any other city. (We’re not talking gondolas, that’s another – more expensive – story.) With a metro pass, you can take unlimited boat rides within the city or to any of the nearby islands. If you happen to visit, get out to Burano and the island cemetery.
The only people I saw riding in a gondola were of the touristy Asian persuasion. I did not ride in a gondola.
At the weekend, Venice might as well be Euro Disneylandaccio. It reminds me of the central part of Paris, Manhattan, or, um, Disneyland. It’s disappointing that many once-great cities have become dumbed-down tourist playgrounds.
The Italians like to sell common mass-produced items like ties, scarves, and gloves in every imaginable color.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection includes works by Magritte, Kandinsky, Dalí, Picasso, Pollack, Tamayo, and Di Chirico.
Venicians are less tolerant of those speaking Inglese than their Parisian counterparts.
The food in Venice is not nearly as good as what you can get for the same money in Paris, Seville, or Austin. Also, the mood in Venice is not nearly as good as what you get in Paris, Seville, or Austin. I’m glad I got to see the city, but I doubt I’ll be back unless I become a famous artist and they invite me to the Biennale – and that ain’t gonna happen.
On two separate occasions in Venice I used French to communicate with strangers as a common language. Once in the street: Vous sont Francaise? J’ai une carte ici, en fait. La piazzale c’est la bas ... and once at the airport: C’est un couteau en moin sac? Mon dieu! Poubelle.