Day 7: Venice Meanderings

Our overnight train brought us into the Venice, Italy train terminal at roughly nine in the morning and we quickly deboarded and headed for the water taxi which would bring us to our hotel. We were rested well enough, I suppose, even though my legs were cocked sideways during my slumber due to the tight quarters the overnight train's cabin presented us with and my arms were stiff and shoulders hunched from the top bunk on which I slept.

A group of fellow Americans spotted us and asked if we'd like to split fare to San Marco, the location nearest our destination. They were smiley and happy and looked more American than us. We said ok.

Our water taxi pilot looked exactly like the actor from 'The Professional'. That is not pertinent to the story but if you're looking for pertinence here, then you my friend might have the wrong blogger.

Venice was built, one of the fellow Americans told us as we inched through the Grand Canal, by a group of thieves fleeing the Huns. They constructed it on a marsh with stilts and it still stands till today. I wonder if there are still thieves here, and as if on cue, a seedy individual piloting a trash barge passed us by. He glared at me violently. I winked at him.

We departed the taxi and paid our actor friend turned boat pilot, man he could pilot that taxi, twirling it on a Euro to slide next to the dock. Shelton tipped him an Euro extra, I think. That Shelton. I will admit his nee backpack gives him and in turn us an air of professional backpacking authenticity that we lacked before. Brad mumbled something as he passed me. I think I heard an 'espresso' or a 'let's go.'

We found Venice amazing. Unfortunately, so did every Japanese tourist in the entire world. All of them, right there with us as we strolled into St.Marks square to find our hotel. In fact, it is not so much Venice as EuroDisneyland, in a way. Tourists there, tourists here. Ipso facto. Tomato Tomato.

At the Puma store, Shelton found some new shoes he liked and decided to try them on. Meanwhile, Brad had been free-balling for the morning, so he found some new Euro manties, bought them, and went to put them on in the Puma dressing room. As I was helping Shelton decide which pair of shoes to get, Brad called me from the dressing room. For whatever reason, I turned around. There he was, standing outside of the dressing room with his shorts pulled slightly down so that I could see his new manties and half of his upper pale ass cheek. He smiled. I told him to never do that again.

As if we are not American enough over here, Shelton proudly wears Dallas Cowboys and 'Gig' Em Aggies' shirts, along with an Astros and Aggies hat. He is proud to show his team spirit even on days when his teams don't compete, which is, to me, the truest sign of a diehard fan.

For the third straight day I've worn a tank top. I feel loose and raw, like a beast may suddenly spring forth from the depths of my soul and devour nations of evil and queens might lay at my feet, basting in the glow of my tank top and what lies beneath.

We decided to break apart for a bit, to reunite at the hour of 19:00. I took to the streets with my sketchpad for the first time on our trip. I don't sketch that often anymore, even though I make a living by doing it professionally. But drawing in Venice is a must, I tell myself, and away I went. I also brought my new video camera, the minuscule GoPro2, of which I've used incessantly this journey and am excited to share a musical edit of the footage with you once I'm home safe and soundly.

Earlier in our trip, we navigated through a human size bush-labyrinth at Schunbumm Palace in Vienna, and now, through the narrow alleys created by the ancient dwellings in Venice, I'm back at it. In keeping with the EuroDisneyland theme, I'd call this attraction of bumping into Japanese tourists in narrow passageways the 'Kamikaze Maze Mountain'. And even though there are no mountains in Venice, the best rides end in 'mountain' in Disneyland.

Wandering is one of my all time favorite activities, I'll have you know, and find people need to do more of it. Put down the GPS for once and just meander. That word 'meander'. Me. And. Her. I wish. It's more like me and dudes. Ugh.

I don't know if I've ever seen such ancient beauty, though, as this city of Venice. I find myself filming doors and walls and windows and graffiti and locals. Then, all the sudden, I got done filming this particularly unique old man walking with a cane down an ideal path perfectly lit by the afternoon sun and completely unaware of my filming, and then after he passed by me, I looked up and I was lost. Getting lost was what was on my agenda for the day so I was happy.

After sufficient filming and drawing, I met up with my friends and we went to dine. Brad and Shelton took a boat tour and went to a palace, so they were in great spirits. As we headed out for dinner, it was clear once again that we would not know where to eat. Brad asked a waiter standing outside of a cafe if he spoke English, in hopes of getting directions to a restaurant he had been told was an authentic local eatery. The waiter nodded his head, confirming that yes, he indeed spoke English. Brad then asked him where the street was that our destination spot was located. The waiter handed him a menu. Brad then said 'so, you don't speak English.' The man shook his head, confirming that no, he did not speak English.

Dinner was especially touristy, and it was mainly my fault. I wanted to dine on the canal, or near the canal, and once we found a place with people merrily munching away, we sat immediately. We soon realized that the restaurant was, as Brad so perfectly coined it, a total shitstain. We drank a bottle of red wine there, ordered the cheapest things on the menu, lasagna, and went on our way.

We then found a local spot that served, wait for it, pizza. So we drank another bottle of red and ate the pizza and created a stir with our big American laughs and stories of raunch and Shelton had his new shoes on and Brad his new manties and I knew I'd put a tank top on the next day and life was fine and right and we were good.

We decided then that our next stop would be Budapest, for we all have heard the US coin goes forever there and there is much to do and much to see. After that, looks like I'll hop on a flight to Paris by myself, and meet back up with my squadron in Munich.

That is the plan right now, today the 24th of May, as we ride silently on a train in a tiny cabin with an old Italian couple, dreaming of greenest pastures and delectable meals and amazing sights and the women. And the world, let the world wait.

(Flattie in Venice)