Monday, October 26, 2009

Leaving Venice (Uscito Venezia)

At 4:00am I hear a loud buzzing above and to the left in the darkness. I realize that it is my phone going off for the alarm I set the night before. Luckily, in Italy, the time change for autumn was at midnight so I had a healthy full five hours of sleep. As I'm getting ready for the day, it hits me that I need to redistribute the weight in my checked baggage and carry-on pieces. I have purchased about 80 kilos of hard-to-find marble and glass to bring back to the US for making mosaics.

So I frantically unpack one bag and shove little plastic bags of stone and glass into another lifting and carefully assessing the weight. Then, I get a bit nervous about the time because my flight is a very early one out of the Venice Marco Polo airport, which for sound and practical reasons is not actually on the chain of islands which make up Venice, but on the mainland.

So, leaving the key in the room I set off into the darkness of Venice at 4:40am. It is still a magical place as there is not a soul to be seen on the Fondamenta Misercordia. With my 200 lbs of various bags and a backpack, I fire up the trusty GPS (which at this point, I really don't need but just in case...) and cross the first of what would become several bridge crossings.

I set off south to get to Strada Nuova where the day before, I'd seen the signs for the airport water shuttle. After up and down a few more bridges and a kilometer of twisty streets, I find the water bus stop. Confidently, I stroll up to the waiting platform and notice on the sign that the first boat picks up at 9:00am.

If you do the math, this is something of a problem as my flight was at 6:30am. If you have ever seen the movie shots where the background seems to rush out behind the actor and the camera tilts at a 45 degree angle as the protagonist grabs his head and yells 'Noooo!!!', you'll have a pretty good idea of my frame of mind.

After I get through with my initial shock, I set off to the south thinking, maybe I can find a nice 100 euro water taxi along the way... But no, no such luck.
Apparently on Sunday morning, they are all sleeping, inconsiderate bastards. Anyway, there are several more nice bridges and the water bottle I'm carrying with the 200 lbs in luggage is getting annoying to carry loose, so I put it in a bag. After about 600 meters of twisty streets, I hear a pleasant gurgling water sound, the sound a water bottle makes after the lid has been twisted off inside your bag under the weight of 20 kilos of marble. So I have a nice little waterfall going in my bag which I have a grand time emptying out before trudging on happily to the south.

A few minutes later, I get to the train station and consider that I could buy a ticket to the mainland and then cab it to the airport. So I lug my bags up the steps to Santa Lucia station and go to the ticket counter, no, wait, I cannot believe that there is no hard working Trenitalia employee there at 5:00am eagerly awaiting my questions. So I check the schedules and it looks like a no-go.

I arrive at the conclusion that the logical thing to do at this point is to go to the only garage / bus / car entry point on Venice, Piazzale Roma. So in front of the train station after lugging the heavy bags down the steps again, I see possible salvation. A 100 euro water taxi is trolling for people, but no, he's going on to the north because he apparently has *too much money*. Sure, I understand, he needs a better quality of life. He can't be hauling troublesome tourists back and forth *all* day long, that's just silly.

Based on my GPS calculations, I stare down my opponent directly across from the train station. It is the mother of all marble bridges when you have luggage, 'il Ponte degli Scalzi' as pictured in the photo above except, in the dark with no people on it. I begin my ordeal already tired and almost certain my right arm has been stretched an inch longer after carrying the heavier of two bags for such a distance. Up the bridge I go and the trip down is only slightly less tiring. Another kilometer to the south and over another smaller bridge, I notice that a new larger bridge without a steep grade ran between the station and Piazzale Roma. I almost want to go back and cross over that easier bridge just out of spite, but coolness prevails and I go on to the bus stop, find a taxi, and make my way to the airport.


  1. I was waiting, just waiting, for the moment you built a makeshift ramp by the waterside and launched yourself, marble slabs and all, over the river.

  2. Yay! Eric is back!

    Just think about the muscles you worked.

  3. Haha, poor you (and your right arm)! I'm glad coolness prevailed. I can’t wait to hear about your other Italian adventures. Just don't post about all the wonderful food you tasted. I don't want to know *runs off sobbing*

  4. Good lord. Do they make you yodel when you get to the top of that bridge?

  5. That was seriously like the end of a good love story!! As long as you made it...

  6. You had to bring your own marble? I think there is a rule about complaining in Italy. There is no such thing.

  7. Oh no! I'm glad you made it back in one (slightly stretched) piece!

    : )

  8. I was seeing this as a movie in my head - you, the heavy luggage, the silent streets of Venice. I want to hear more about your trip!

    I once walked from the Vineyard Haven ferry dock to Oak Bluffs, on Martha's Vineyard, with heavy luggage. Not stone and marble, but not a huge treat either.

  9. I knew the glass and marble was special, but it must be really special to have gone through such an ordeal to bring it all back.

    I'm sooooo excited to see what you got!

  10. I don't know. I think anywhere on a Sunday is not the greatest when you need to be somewhere early. Did that make any sense?

  11. Mo, next time I'm in Europe and find myself in a quandary at 5am, you will be the first person I call for advice.

    Otherworldlyone, Good to be back darling and yes, I worked lots of muscles if you know what I mean. heh. heh.

    Dutch Donut Girl,
    :) Some of the food was truly wonderful (and the wine that went along with it), but mostly not in Venice by comparison.
    More stories are forthcoming!

    I think there is some sort of homeowners covenant and restriction that for a bridge to be over the 'Grand Canale', the bridge must be 'grand' or something.

    I did indeed make it. Hey you know that song 'Love Hurts'? I should have put that on the iPod to listen to while I was 'playing the pack mule'. :) Wait, that sounded innuendous (and so did your comment).

    I wasn't complaining, I was just sharing a story about how much fun it was. Most of the marble and glass transporting was out of Italy, this story was my last night there and I'm working backwards.

    Soda and Candy,
    Thanks. Say, I understand why they call it 'luggage' now. You 'lug' your crap everywhere.

    More fun stories on the way, lots of things to catch up on here being the first week back.
    Your luggage ordeal doesn't sound like much fun, especially if you don't just lift weights for fun anyway.
    Someday I *will* visit Martha's Vineyard (it's on the list).

    Oh, it is awesome glass and stone. If you'll excuse the goofy turn of phrase, I'll post pictures of the 'glass porn' soon.

    I totally understand what you are saying. I live in Texas where you still can't buy alcohol until noon on a Sunday, and when I was a tiny kid, all stores were closed.

  12. Venice doesn't want you to go.

  13. I hope you enjoyed the trip and that coming home is not too depressing and boring for you.

  14. Oh my! Thank you for the chuckles over my coffee this morning, what a wonderful story to share... lololol. Surely we're not laughing at you, but with you ;).
    However, it sounds like you've had a wonderful trip, and we get to see some very cool new glass and marble work from you! Whooohooooo :D.
    When you were little all the stores were closed eh? Hmmmm me too, boy are YOU dating yourself! LOLOLOLOL!!!

  15. WendyB,
    It really didn't. It was like that 'Final Destination' movie, but less, um, how you say, violent.

    The trip was great I have to admit, but now my focus turns back to all the projects I have going on at home. So I wasn't really depressed, well, until you reminded me. Thanks, I guess. :)

    Toni James,
    I'm glad someone was laughing over my ordeal ;)
    It was a great trip, I love love love Italy, especially Venice.
    It wasn't *that* long ago that all the stores were closed on Sunday (at least here in Texas).
    Um, wasn't it that way in 1979?