Thursday, May 29, 2008
I arrived in Venice today and the first thing I had to do was strip off half my clothes. For the past three weeks it has been cold and rainy in Torino, (I blame the weather among other things for this lovely cold) and I arrived in my Torino clothes - sweater, trench coat, and scarf. But when I exited the train, I was hit with the sun and 80 degree weather and my system was shocked by this sudden change of season. I tore off my winter gear happily, although carrying everything and all my clothes was a challenge.
When I came out of the train station, one of the first people I saw was somebody I knew. This dancer from City Opera named Billy was boarding one of the tourist boats with some people, and I would have had to go screaming after him like an american tourist to talk to him, so I didn't get his attention. But when I run into him in New York, it will be funny to say, "so, what were you doing in Venice on May 29th?" and freak him out.
Venice is like disneyland. First of all, it feels totally unreal to be riding in this boat along the "streets" of this floating city. I kept thinking I was on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The second reason it's like disneyland is that everyone here - every single person it seems like - is a tourist. I didn't realize how lucky I was to be in Torino for my Italian immersion until I arrived in Venice today, and noticed that all the people in the service industry here automatically speak english to everyone.
But I digress - so I exited the train station, spotted somebody I knew, and then had to figure out how to get to the hotel. This was no easy feat. Below I have cut and pasted the exact directions on how to get to the train station to the hotel from the hotel's website:
Get to the Venice train station of Santa Lucia, continue with vaporetto Actv line 1 or 2 (stops in front of the station) towards Saint Mark and get off after about half an hour at Vallaresso stop. Continue on foot along Calle Vallaresso, turn left, cross the bridge and continue on Calle Larga XXII Marzo. Turn right on the second street, Calle delle Veste, and go straight to Campo San Fantin where the famous La Fenice Theater stands. Turn right on Calle del Fruttarol: You will have arrived, Hotel Becher is at number 1857.
Okay, seriously? And it's not like you can just hop in a taxi to get there - you actually have to use the waterways. I mean, I have been in Italy for 2 months, I speak Italian, and I totally got lost, as I knew I would when I read those directions. Imagine some poor person who didn't know how to get around Italy? I got onto the vaporetto, which is like a water bus, just fine (although the line to buy tickets was excruciatingly long, and I tried really hard to avoid it by speaking Italian to people and showing I'm not just "another tourist", but no dice.) and the ride on the vaporetto was very cool although surreal. Then I arrived at San Marco stop, which said nowhere Calle Vallaresso, but it was the last stop so I got off. I found Calle Vallaresso, but the next street in the directions was nowhere to be found. I finally found a police officer and asked where La Fenice, the opera theater was, and they directed me. Still, once I got there, I had to go down a few wrong streets before I found the right one. But it ended up being worth it because my adorable little room has a balcony directly overlooking the canal, and gondolas are constantly floating by, sometimes with singing gondoliers. That's pretty fun.
I spent the afternoon exploring, getting lost again, finding myself, and taking photos. The only annoying thing is that while I had been feeling much better all day, about two hours ago I started sneezing a lot, and now my nose is completely stuffed up. I seriously still don't know if I'm even going to do this audition tomorrow, because my health keeps fluctuating even more than the weather. I guess I'll figure it out when I wake up. And no matter what, I'm glad I got the opportunity to at least see Venice.