It’s been a crazy couple of days. This one is a long one:
I’m not sure if I was more glad start the day or to FINALY see it end. The day started at 545 the bus was leaving at 7 and we had to meet in the town square by 645. I was smart the night before and didn’t stay for the after party which means I was in bed by midnight, most others got home at 3 or 5am. The bus ride to Venice was around 4 hours and we left a little late, 7:30, which means we arrived there around 11:30. However, you don’t just arrive in Venice by bus, as it is an island; we had to take a ferry to it meaning we got to Venice around noon. We were given pathetic maps and told where we were to meet at 4:50 saying “boats don’t wait and we aren’t going to wait around for 30 like we did this morning. If you miss the bus you’ll have to buy a train ticket back.” We then dispersed. I began my part of the journey with a group of 6-8 but Rachel and I soon broke off because when you have more than 4 people in a group you don’t get very far. Rachel had to use the bathroom and we were hungry so we tried to find our way out of the tourist section to find affordable food. The staff on the bus had said the best way to find great food for good prices was to get lost in Venice so we set off with that goal in mind. We stopped only to take some pictures of San Marco and then, after a few accidental circles of the tourist section, found streets that were completely silent and nearly empty. Soon after we stopped for pizza and a bathroom break, Rachel was VERY grateful it had been over 30 min. With our stomachs full and bladders empty we wandered aimlessly around Venice finding some neat architecture and even green space! It had been over 2.5 hours now and we found a lovely park to sit at. This gave me time to examine my purchases. Venice is known for their papier-mâché carnival masks and they have stores and street Vendors selling them everywhere. I was just looking at one vendors cart and found myself haggling with him. To make a short story shorter I received my mask for half price and received two magnets for ‘free’. I was pretty proud (especially when a local came up to me just after and congratulated me on my deal ^_^ ) So after a short sit in this park we asked a local to point where we were out on the map so we could no longer be lost, or so we thought. As I mentioned before this map was…well about what you expect when you receive a free map. The streets were small and their names miniscule. We made our way in the general direction of San Marco and eventually found signs for it. On the way we stopped at a Murrano glass store, as Venice is also known for their Murrano glass and picked up a few things. The lady behind the counter told us that if we have time we should go find the old Jewish district as it has some of the oldest Synagogues and is quite interesting. So we decided to skip San Marco and pass through this district on our way to the meeting point as we had just under 2 hours left before we had to meet. Sure enough there was a sign for it and it was near. We never found the Jewish district (at least I don’t think we did) but we did find a lovely housing area with hearts graffiti everywhere and a great place to rest our tired feet and look out on the ocean. In hindsight we probably spent too long chatting and resting as we left with just under an hour to get to our meeting point near San Marco. However, I wasn’t too worried because the area of town in which we were relaxing had many signs to point the way. We soon found that the signs were not a sure bet as the streets would end with no sign to be found and sometimes 3 directions in which to go. So we learned when in doubt “Dove sono San Marco?” to a local would get a point. We had 20 min when we arrived at what was not the San Marco. It must have had something to do with it but we learned very quickly that we were quite a trek from home, almost on the other side of the Island. Exasperated we quickly got better directions from someone with a better map and promptly lost our way only to run into a pair of New Yorkers having the same problem…except this couple spoke fluent Italian and Spanish, and almost more importantly a better map. He called over a few locals who argued over which San Marco area was intended and eventually found the quickest way there, we now had 10 min. We got to know him as he guided us toward our destination. He found out that I am very gullible and made a good sport of it. He was on vacation to see his wife’s family, who lived in Italy and informed us that he had just seen some “ahpra” last night and that it was good. He said he suspected that he was going the wrong way before he met us but “you don’t argue with the boss. He then made sure we were aware of the two rules: #1 the boss (wife/girlfriend) is always right #2 when you know the boss is wrong see rule number 1. He got us most of the way there before we parted ways. We thanked him and I offered some Euro as thanks but he wouldn’t hear of it. We were now 20 min late and not even to San Marco yet. The signs were much better in this area of town but almost unnecessary because all you had to do was follow the traffic of people and you would be headed the correct way. We finally came out in to the plaza of San Marco 25 min late and rushing to the meeting place, all too aware that we were now bordering on that 30 min mark that the leaders said they weren’t going to wait for. Around 10, or so, min later we arrived at the rendezvous, no people no ferry and no dock workers to be seen…crap! Rachel was quite upset and I was not excited myself. We went to check with the concierge at the hotel Gabrielli, the nearest building, to see if someone had left a note or information, no luck. We were given no contingency plan except that there was a train that could take us close to home. After a quick bathroom plan Rachel and I did a quick analysis of our situation to decide where to go from here. We didn’t have phones or any way to access a phone and we both found out that we didn’t have Brygida’s cell phone number anymore, Rachel had left it with some of her things on the bus and mine had fallen from my wallet at some point. We decided that the bus must be gone and even if it wasn’t that we had no way of knowing how to get there. We asked the concierge how to get to the train station and he gave us directions, and so began our journey home. As Venice is a city on the water the bus system is much different, in fact their bus system is a boat system. You buy a ticket for a period of time and get on this cramped boat which makes stops like any normal bus. The problem for us became the lack of open ticket booths. We decided to risk it and look to pay for the boat while getting on it because it was getting late and time was of the essence. The boat ride was 35 min, during it I had a great chat with a man from England who was with his family on vacation. We talked about the UK, Venice, and Opera. Rachel was exhausted and took a short nap. Having arrived at the train station I bid farewell to my new friend and Rachel, in better spirits, and I made our way into the station. Turns out there was one train left could take us to Rimini, a town on the coast near Novafeltria, where we could take a bus home, lucky us. The cost was around 23 euros and the train left in 30 min, 7:30PM. Rachel and I tried a few pay phones with no luck and quickly got a bite to eat, making sure to find our train first. We boarded with plenty of time to spare and both let a out a sigh of relief, at least we had a plan. This train would take us to Bologna where we would board another train to Rimini. Rachel and I thought it would be good to practice our Italian so we struck up a conversation with the people sitting next to us, turns out their Italian was about as good as ours. One of them was from Chile vacationing with some friends and band mates. She was in a folk/jazz sort of band and spoke Spanish. The second person was from Seville and he to spoke Spanish. Between Rachel’s very basic Spanish their broken English and my broken Italian and few words in Spanish we all talked and had a great time. It was nice to have a distraction from our unfortunate day. They got off the train at a stop about half way to Bologna; we wished each other safe travels and got a passenger to take our picture. We were than joined by two ladies excited from our previous encounter we strove to start a new round of chat up my seat partner only to find that these people were Russian and communicating was going to be much harder. Nevertheless we attempted a conversation for a good hour before we ran out of simple talk and gave up. Rachel put in her Ipod and I began working the diction for what songs I could remember. It was now sunset. We arrived in Bologna at 10:40 our train was supposed to leave at 10:30, stress again. After getting some help with directions we rushed to our train very grateful that it had not left yet. This train was made up of compartments instead of just seats and was half as full as the previous one. Rachel and I had a whole compartment of 6 seats to ourselves, it was wonderful to stretch out. This ride was shorter and that is a good thing because we were really running out of things to do, we played “I’m thinking of a color” (limited to the colors in big box of crayons) It took Rachel 20 min to guess Macaroni Yellow with well over 10 hints the most obvious were: milk, margarine/butter, and cheese all are needed to make me and yellow is the last name. Even after this hint it took her 5 min, we were really tired. We got into Rimini around 11:45pm and found, not surprisingly, that the buses to Novafeltria were done for the day. We inquired a cabbie about price and were shocked to find it was 90 Euros! Rachel REALLY wanted to just pay it and jump in a cab. I reminded her that 90 Euros is around $150 and had to talk her out of charging it. I reminded her that we can look for a hotel with a price limit and that cabs will still be around if we don’t find a hotel in 30 min. She reluctantly agreed and we stopped in the first hotel we saw. It was ritzy and I knew it wouldn’t be cheap but I wanted to be thorough (midnight negotiations can usually achieve steep discounts). We told the desk worker our story and he gave us his minimum 40, Euros each, to which we replied no! He asked us our minimum and we said 40-50 Euros. We told him that this was because the taxi cost 90 to which he replied “Ninty Euros dey are teaves!” He graciously called up 4 hotels for us and found the cheapest hotel room for 50 Euros. Afterward he pointed out that someone may have ‘accidentally’ left open to the public computer in the lounge if we needed to contact someone and even let use his personal phone! Needless to say we left Hotel Card praising the name Ricardo! We made our way to our new hotel, Albergo Moderno. Rachel described this room as somewhere you take a sleazy woman; I think she hasn’t seen many European hotels. The room had a king size bed, a small TV, a wardrobe, a bathroom which doubled as a shower, yes I mean doubled, the showerhead came out of the wall and you could probably sit on the toilet and shower at the same time. Most importantly it looked like someone cleans it everyday so despite the room being only slightly larger than the bed I thought it was a nice hotel. I mimed that we needed a wake-up call to the desk worker and told him in Italian the time (so I’m learning something over here). We were both very stressed but managed to fall asleep because we were more tired after walking over 12 miles.
I woke up 2 min before our wakeup call and as I was already dressed just laid in bed until around 640 until we left for the bus. We got on the bus at 650 were dropped off 40 min later not 1 min from our apt. We got home and told the story for the first time to our roommate who greeted us heartily. He volunteered to spread the news of our safety and told us to get some more sleep to which we did not protest. I took a quick shower because I felt sticky and then brushed my teeth because they were coated with grime. :-p I woke up 3 hours later giving me just enough time to check on my schedule for the day and discuss what happened with the facility in charge. We were understood and didn’t receive any slap on the wrist just some instructions for next time which had already passed through my head. This trip gave me a real appreciation for the role that random people play in our lives. I’ve talked earlier about the power of interaction with established figures in our lives but the social effect is huge as well. When I think of the past day and a half I don’t think of the fact that I got lost or missing the bus or the LONG train ride and “teaving” cabbies. I think of the New Yorker, the Chileans, the Spaniard (Sevilleian), the attempted Russian dialogue, and the amazing desk worker. These people made a really crappy adventure into one that I can think of smiling. The rest of the day was pretty easy. Normal rehearsal and no extra lessons to tax my still tired body. The rest of the day was uneventful. I went to bed exhausted at midnight.
I’m still tired but I managed to make it to my early Italian class today. I had my lesson in which I continue to make strides now it’s a matter of holding on to the new techniques. I’ve begun a new Italian art song which needs to be performable next week (I was hoping it would be ready by this Friday for a concert but that’s not possible). I’m continuing to struggle in Don Bucefalo, largely because Rigoletto trumps Don Bucefalo whenever they conflict which happens most days. Today is a “short day” because of a concert tonight, meaning that we are done before 8 PM. Short is in quotes because with the concert we get out later and almost more tired. I’m carefully watching my funds I have enough to get me through this week before I need to start tapping my credit card but payday is on Thursday and then I will no longer have to stretch as much, the extra special end to Venice set me back 50 Euros (about a weeks worth of money) It’s getting warmer everyday and the breeze is becoming weaker. This heat matched with long concerts makes you tired no matter how good the singers are. Today was the sacred vocal concert I didn’t participate as I have no sacred music in my repertoire but it was great to hear a different style. The day starts early tomorrow like everyday and I wish that I could have Skyped with Christine (my girlfriend) as it was our 4 year anniversary today. I’m very glad we celebrated before I left. Goodnight all!
Lucky number 13 I can’t believe I’ve been here for almost two weeks already time sure flies fast when you get lost in Venice. This week is flying by fast and the days are getting so warm. I’m now the only one in the apt who gets up at 7 pm, mostly because I’m usually the only one not out drinking every night. Once I’ve caught up I’ll try and enjoy my evenings more but for now good sleep makes for good days and will hopefully keep me healthy. My Italian is getting better everyday and I really notice a difference in my songs, mostly regarding the diction. I am trying to absorb as much of the stage advice that I can get. I listen to everything our director for Rigoletto says even when he talks to others. Having a smaller role is nice because I now have 90% of my role memorized and can focus on my character. Every time we repeat a scene, or portion of it, I get to try something new sometimes it so bad that Bob (the director) stops the scene and says “what was that?” but most of the time it’s up to my critique. Become the character on stage is becoming easier, most days, but I still feel like I can keep tweaking. I think I’m making progress. I got off rehearsal earlier today so I’m actually going to get to post these today! It’s also nice to have some down time before I have to go to bed. On that note I’m giving up waiting for my love to come online and I am heading to bed, maybe I’ll get to read my book tonight. Buona serata! Ciao.
3 more weeks to come!