That is what someone said to me just after I successfully gave them directions to a location in Venice. As I was walking away, they called me back and the father asked me that question. If I was quick-thinking, I would have asked which movie star they thought I was (because they were discussing something in Italian before they asked me). But I politely said I wasn’t and continued on my way with a cup of gelato. Pistachio and cherry vanilla gelato, in case you were wondering. Then I came back to the room where Kellie was working on her blog. As I started to work on this very blog entry, I fell asleep for almost two hours. Hmm… But, we did find two places near us which have free Wi-Fi and we are at one of them now. So what happened before these events?
We definitely enjoyed sleeping in today, with no concrete plans for today or tomorrow. There are some islands in the Venetian Lagoon which are popular day trips, called Burano, Murano, and Torchello. Our plan was to take the water bus from Venice to Burano and Torchello for the day. The weather forecast for today was occasional showers, and as we walked out of our door, we saw people carrying umbrellas. We were prepared with rain jackets, and Kellie brought her umbrella. As we worked our way to the water bus station, about 10 minutes away it was drizzling lightly, and when we got there it started pouring. Enough rain that Kellie noticed it leaking into her shoe and I was concerned about now having something waterproof for my camera bag. And, we were reminded (informed?) that the water bus prices are 6.50 euros each way, so it would basically cost us $20 r/t each just for the transportation to what we were considering a low cost getaway. We went back to the hotel to change shoes and get a plastic cover for my computer bag, and decided to cancel the plan. It was only going to be daylight for another 5 hours anyway. We decided to wander through the city again, but on a different route through a different part of town. Venice is divided into six neighborhoods, called sestrieres. We are staying in Cannaregio, but at the southern end of it, near San Marco. Yesterday we walked through parts of San Marco, Dorsudoro, San Polo, and Questura while hunting down the internet café. That was all basically south of us. Today, we went north, in a counterclockwise direction, visiting Cannaregio (the largest one), Santa Croce, and more of San Polo.
I don’t know enough about the sestrieres or their history to explain how/if they differ from each other. But obviously certain tourist spots are in certain ones. Our walk today took us away from the tourist sights. There was still quite a bit of traffic just because we were on the main walking street heading away from the train station, but it was leisurely and definitely quieter because of the rainy weather. It never rained as much as when we were standing by the boats this morning, it just drizzled off and on. An amazing thing about Venice is that it’s like a maze. Kellie and I joked about what you would possibly do if you had to call the police or ambulance. Frequently, you aren’t even sure what street you’re on, and it is a challenge (a fun one, for me) to use the map and keep on the correct path. And with the maze aspect, it is remarkable that if you are stuck in a crowd of tourists, you can turn off onto a side road, take a detour, or wander accidentally, just a few steps and be completely out of the tourists. And similarly, you can be strolling peacefully down a quiet street, get to the end and make a turn, and then suddenly be surrounded by tourists again. Today, we wandered just off the main road and walked through the old Jewish ghetto. There are some holocaust-related memorials in a beautiful serene courtyard, probably 500 feet off the road packed with people rolling their suitcases.
Before our trip, I searched online for the top things to do in Venice and number one on several lists was something like, “Wander, even without a map.” I agree with that. This is a great place to walk, and I imagine there are enough signs and people willing to help for you to reach your final destination. But it is certainly enjoyable just to stroll, view the artisans’ shops, walk into bakeries, step into a church (well, one of the very few that doesn’t charge admission in this city), and look at your map of the city, point to a new spot and ask yourself, “I wonder what that area is like?” I’m sure you would enjoy the journey to find out.