La Serenissima – Thursday, September 28th

Joss and I converge on JFK despite typical traffic bullshit. She was late and I was a little later. Not a race. We wait with the rest of humanity on cusp of trajectory. Escape velocity arrives in a timely fashion and we are aloft. Passengers are weird. They have quirks and needs that magnify when hurtling through time and space in a metal tube. Like the young woman who won’t stop talking to her mute companion or the guy who gets out of his seat at regular intervals to bounce on the balls of his feet and stretch his lanky frame in the aisle. I manage to sleep: Joss not so much. Immigration and customs pass in a blur. A ferry, which we locate with ease, transports us over the lagoon. Our ship maintains a stately pace as water taxis buffet our craft with their wakes. We approach Venice from the north – first stop Murano, the island of glassmakers. The journey winds around the city, passing the Arsenale, Venice’s enormous shipyard, where in the 13th century a galley could be built in a day. This was the first instance of mass-production on a scale not duplicated until Henry Ford devised the assembly line. I point this out to her, feeling the self-consciousness of internalized guidebook knowledge for the first time. We debark at San Zaccaria, the Piazza San Marco stop. Our B&B is up an alleyway and down another and behind a not very well-marked door. Many flights of stairs, toting valises. We are offered water and coffee on a terrace overlooking rooftops and the crosses atop the Basilica. The color scheme throughout our lodgings relies heavily on lime sherbert green.

After a blessed shower, we hit the pavement. I suggest it might be a good idea to find Piazza San Marco in order to theoretically give us a sense of location. It’s not far. Jesus, is it congested. They tell you, but words cannot convey the mass of not-moving humanity. At least in Times Square, there’s some tectonic movement to the crowd. Still, the vast scale of the plaza strikes awe. The façade of the Basilica. The shimmer of the Doge’s Palace. The majesty of the Campanile, replaced in the early 20th century when the Renaissance one collapsed. The glitz of the high-fashion shops lining the narrow streets that radiate from the piazza. Gradually, we leave the touristic maw behind, arcing on footbridges over nameless canals, catching vistas of listing campanile blazing the setting sun, slowly copping to our epic hunger. “Where do you want to eat?” “Any place.” We just stop at the café we will never deliberately find again for a semi-adequate meal and the promise of future gelato.

More wandering. Then, attempted slumber.

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