Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lost in Venice

Having arrived around midnight, I caught the last ferry into Venice. I got off in the wrong spot, and my directions were unclear, and I started to walk in what turned out to be the wrong direction: the first of many, many wrong turns. I walked in the dark for perhaps 15 minutes before being found by an English couple who thought I looked like I needed help. They took me back to their hotel, where the concierge tried first to decipher my directions and ultimately called my hotel. He drew a pencil line on my map which meant I had to cross the Rialto bridge to a different part of the city.
Once I got myself onto the right side of the Rialto Bridge, going "straight" was a matter of interpretation, and finding the proper street took quiet a bit of circling. There is a late night party scene here only at certain osterias, but it seemed pretty benign. I was frightened by the tone of a group of young drunk men, and then an enormous rat ran across my path, which only made me mad. By the time I found my hotel I was rather wound up.
The next day I had blisters on my feet, so I wore different shoes, which gave me more, different blisters. At the end of the day I wore my third pair of shoes (flip-flops) which gave me the worst blisters of all. We ran into the people who helped me in the dark in the afternoon, and they admitted that they rescued lost people every night as they come home from dinner.

A Flight from London's Gatwick Airport to Venice

It was an Airbus A319 (I think), and it made a lot of high-pitched alarming noises. "Business Class" was the first three rows, with the exact same seating configuration as the rest of the plane. The differences were the presence of a curtain, a lack of passengers in the middle seats, and the presence of a flight attendant serving drinks and food. Too many drinks were served to a woman on my row, which was noticeable from her rising tone of voice and laughter. In the end, she could barely walk unassisted from the plane. The more desirable entree was chosen by all the passengers ahead of me, and there was no apology for me (as there had been for the man plying his female companion with too much wine): there was simply a tray with cold salmon shoved in my face.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"the promise being made, must be kept"

I am still reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Lincoln, Team of Rivals. The time constraints of my life mean that I have been reading it for many months now. I am on page 567 with perhaps 150 more to go.
The flight to London was uneventful, and I can't help but reflect on how it took Lincoln as long to make a visit to the battlefields of the Civil War as it took me to get here. Plus, I got dinner and wine served upon doll-house dishes, slightly startling but cheery flight attendants, and a cheese course for dessert.
I had to change airports in London, taking a bus between them. Normally an hour's ride, terrible traffic problems on the M-24 (I think) meant that we took the "cross country" route. To my mind, this meant driving off-road, but what he meant was off-the-freeway. The bus driver apologized once before we left, once after he closed the doors, twice on the way and once more at the end. I am not a regular bus rider, but I have never heard one apologize for antyhing before.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I am packing for a trip

I have a new suitcase, which was just the right size in the store and grew to monstrous dimensions on the way home. I have tried to take only what I will really need; this includes a sun hat and a flashlight, which were recommended, and some books, which were my idea. My suitcase is not full. The dog Captain is worried about what I am doing and gets in the shot.

I am not a runner, so I am leaving my running shoes at home. There are some things I know I will miss, like the New York Times, my own pillows, and the jokes my children tell me. I do not know if I will miss these shoes.