Day 23

Posted by Whit Barringer , Wednesday, June 20, 2007 9:00 AM


CT 5:05
IT 12:05

Solemn Goodbyes and the Promises Within.

(Again, two days have passed since these events.)

I had to get up and be checked out before 9, which is the most ridiculous check-out time in history. After I settled everything, I got some pre-packaged toast and hit the road. The right bus didn’t come, so I went ahead and walked to S.M.E. It was the last time I was going to get to see it, so it was just as well for me to take advantage of the hike. I took the first boat to Piazza San Marco so I could do one of the other museums on my short itinerary for the day. The Ducal Palace (meaning the Duke or Doge’s residence) was my first stop.

The palace is extremely huge and full of decent artwork (it’s not nearly as ornate as the Palazzo Vecchio in my opinion, but I didn’t get to take the secret tour of the Doge’s palace). The Doge of Venice was a duke without much political or religious power (it was mostly ruled by councils and the like). Because of this I’m not actually sure what the actual role of the Doge was. To live in the palace? To have a figurehead ruler for life? I really don’t know. I didn’t have any tour information when I was going through and the book I bought at the end wasn’t really that specific about the office. I suppose I’ll have to do separate reading. The actual construction of the palace was different than other palazzi (if that is indeed the plural) that I’ve been in. There were quite a few interesting differences between it and other places I’ve been, so that was kind of fun.

After I got out of the Ducal Palace, I decided two things. The first was that I would call Dr. Bane and tell him that if he wanted to meet me where I was (it’s fun to be alone and do stuff on your own, but I like having people to share the experience with as well). The second was that I had gotten my money’s worth out of my San Marco Plus pass and that it was time to get most of my shopping done. That said, I headed toward the next boat to the Rialto Bridge. It was extremely crowded, but it was a rather short ride compared to many of the others.

Once I got to the Rialto Bridge, I headed for the lace shop and the glass shop, which faced each other on either side of the bridge walkway. In the Burano lace shop I pulled out my Italian 101 lessons and used “Questo” (“this one”) on three different items and pulled out my card, mindful of the exchange rate that was supposedly phenomenally high. I then went to the Murano glass shop and bought some more families after some deliberation. When they ran my card, this particular shop showed me what it would be in USD as well. It should have said $25 in USD if the exchange rate was what the signs around town were saying, but it said $23 and some odd cents. I thought this was highly peculiar, so I went to a nearby ATM. On the way I saw a sign in a window that said 1.38 – meaning that the place I had seen originally was charging an outrageous rate of at least 12 cents over the exchange rate. I withdrew the last bit of my money that I could, with enough to pay Dr. Bane back for the gondola ride and dinner, and felt a great weight lift off of my shoulders. Exchange rates wreak havoc on your soul. Believe me.
I got some gelato (limone is especially good in Venice, according to my expert opinion) and headed back to St. Mark’s in case Dr. Bane called. He never did, so I wandered around the square once or twice, bought some corn, fed the pigeons, and headed to Ferrovia (lit. “street of iron”) to the train station. I got a tuna sandwich and a water a and sat in the train station for over an hour waiting on people. Slowly people I knew started trickling in until we were all present and accounted for. We all got on the train together and mostly fell asleep. I felt a strong pang of sadness. Venice had been my favorite, especially due to its peacefulness. But with every goodbye, there is a hope of another meeting, chance or no. I’ll wait for my next chance. Goodbyes are never forever anyway.

Toward the end of the trip, most of us started waking up and talking. We reminisced (about the trip, about Baridon, etc.) until we got to Florence. Once we got off the train, Dr. Bane and Paulette invited as many of us as wanted to go to Gilli (the chocolate store that is apparently a restaurant as well) to meet Danielle. I was the only one that went, but I figured I could use a cheap dinner. Much to my distress, it was neither cheap nor a full dinner. I got nearly the same thing I did in Rome at the L’insalata place and it was about 1/3 of the size with harder cheese. I was disappointed, especially since it cost an outrageous 11.50. Win some, lose some.

Afterward, we decided to go in and get chocolate. I got a rossa, cremini, caffe, and some kind of toffee type chocolate. I ate my caffe first. It had a coffee bean on top. It was crunchy and, of course, bitter, but it was good. I had the rossa next, which looked like it was dipped in white chocolate. I took a bite and nearly spit it out. Danielle had hers next, and she described at as tasting like potpourri. We agreed on this (Dr. Bane took a bite and spit it back out). The cremini was the best out of the ones I had had so far, as it tasted the most like a crème caramel chocolate. Then I had the toffee thing, which was pretty disgusting as well. I knew I wasn’t a big chocolate fan for a reason. I think it’s because, for the most part, chocolate is big miss on flavor with me. I’ve never been much of a sweets fan anyway. As good after dinner conversation, someone began talking about Dr. Bane’s daughter being in the girl scouts, which prompted me to tell the story of my feet.*

I walked back with Dr. Bane and Paulette toward their apartment on Bargello and headed back toward my apartment. After I got up the room, I began cataloguing all of my loot for others and tried to figure out who I was missing. Then I realized that I was going to have quite a time getting all of my things home and began brainstorming for that huge obstacle.

After a long day, I went straight to bed. I was exhausted (and extremely hot – the summer’s are just as bad here as they are in Arkansas, except with no air conditioning). But at the same time, I was discouraged at how Venice had simply come and gone – quietly all the while. One day I will have to come back, and I can’t wait to do so.

*“….which prompted me to tell the story of my feet.”: For those of you who are extremely queasy, or are not interested in any sidenotes that don’t have to do with my experiences in Italy or thoughts on the world abroad, you might not want to read on.

When I was in second grade, I was in Girl Scouts. One weekend we all went on a mandatory camping trip. There were something like 10 or 15 girls on said trip, and we were all supposed to sleep in the same tent. As probably could have been expected, there wasn’t enough room in the tent for all of us and the chaperones, so my mom was going to sleep outside the tent. I decided I would sleep with her. My mom let me have the side closest to the fire to keep warm in the night. In no time we were both sound asleep.

Now there is some bylaw in Girl Scout code that has a mandatory time that the fire must be put out. The women who were with us were too absorbed in conversation to really pay attention to what was going on (what harm could come from a fire that was nearly down to the coals anyway?). It turns out that my sleeping bag was on an incline. I more than likely slid than rolled, but the effect was the same: I ended up with the foot end of my sleeping bag in the fire. I woke up to the smell of something burning (you can imagine what), and saw the sleeping bag on fire before I registered that my feet were also burning.

I started screaming and scooted out of the sleeping bag as fast as I could, but the damage was done. The nylon had melted into my foot, and I was in a lot of pain. My mom started screaming, the women started babbling, and the other scouts were flabbergasted. Thus we went to the hospital and I had to be driven to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock – in an ambulance!

Somewhat later on my foot got infected and it had to be scrubbed with a fingernail brush – which is one of the most painful experiences I can somewhat remember in my entire life. In the end, I was in a wheelchair for two months before I could recover enough to walk on my own again without crutches.

That is the story of my feet. Not too pleasant, I know.

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