And as we descended towards London, all I heard was ‘We’re goin’ down!!!’

It was everything I’ve ever wanted in a birthday.  Desserts all day, foreign languages flying around, bold colors giving way to crumbling decadence, and not a car in sight.  After Jenn and I regained our senses from being dazzled by the beauty Venice smacked us with as soon as we got off the plane, we made our first pit stop…for some pizza.  Yep-in Italy for an hour, and I was like a crack addict jonsing for a hit of that pizza-deliciousness.  After we devoured an entire pizza each, we dove headfirst into the twisting, turning alleyways that eventually led us to our hostel, which was a mere 5-minute walk from both the lagoon and Piazza San Marco (my navigator might refute these calculations, but moral of the story-we were really close to gorgeousness).  As we were checking in, the attractive Italian working was quick to give us a detailed map and a weather update…only he should never attempt meteorology in the near future.  ‘It’s going to be quite sunny this morning, and possibly rain in the afternoon’ was apparently code for: clouds in the morning and brilliant sunshine in the afternoon.  He tried really hard, though…

After we dropped off our bags and wound our way to the water, I apparently decided to let out one of the most ignorant questions that has ever passed my lips (I am forced to admit this embarrassment as I’ve shared some of Jenn’s gems in previous posts, and if I don’t write this it will appear in the comments section…she’ll probably grossly exaggerate, and then no one will believe that I’m actually in grad school.  So really this is just ‘crisis management’ and I’m trying to save face.  Sidenote?  That’s all probably a lie-I don’t think Jenn even knows how to exaggerate.).  You see, I’m horrible at navigating my way through a city (I have to lay a little background before I lay this embarrassment out there for all to judge, mock, laugh uncontrollably)  Subways?  I could lead you around blindfolded.  But above ground, I have come to be heavily reliant on Jenn’s amazing map skills.  So when she was telling me that we were working our way towards the end of the island (and as we were surrounded by water in the forms of various canals), I genuinely blurted out ‘But how will we know when we’ve reached the end of the island?’

That’s right.  That just happened.  If anything is misspelled in the next couple of lines, it’s because I’m hanging my head in shame whilst I type…

SO, after she patiently waited for my shame to set in and I answered my own ridiculous question (The answer is: you run out of places to walk.  Unless you want to try and impersonate Jesus by walking on water; that’s basically your only option.) we began ‘The Venetian Experience’.  Or whatever you want to title me pretending not to be slipping into the later years of my 20’s.  ‘The Venetian Quarter-Life Crisis, Minus the Ferrari’ could also work.  Or ‘Girl overdoses on gelato, antidote found in spaghetti carbonara’ would also suffice.  The first day we simply walked around, aimlessly taking in the sights while eating gelato and having pastries for dinner.  One of the more interesting finds of the day was a random woman ominously dropping blue powder from a bowl while walking in a backwards fashion.  Absolutely no idea why she was doing this, but no one really seemed to care or pay her attention.  Except for me…blatantly taking photos.  That was an incredibly uninteresting story, but as I included a photo of her in the slideshow below I thought I should add some narrative that didn’t lead you to assume I was stalking some random Italian woman…

As our second day was my celebrated day of birth, it was on me to decide the day’s itinerary.  Which is hard for me to do, because I really don’t like making other people participate in my interests; I’m always worried that someone will be bored, and feel like they’re wasting their time.  Which isn’t fun for anyone, and then I’m labeled as a bore.  And no one wants to be labeled as a bore on their birthday.  But Jenn was a champ, and let me do whatever I wanted.  And so, of course, I found a self-guided ‘Venice Ghetto Tour’ online, and decided that I wanted to pay a little attention to the place where the word ‘ghetto’ originated.  But before we attempted this expedition, I decided to incorrectly pay heed to the hostel’s meteorologist, as he told me the morning would be sunny and a better option to climb the Campanile to gaze down at the beauty Venice had to offer.  So we climbed flight after flight after flight of stairs until we finally made it to the top of Venice’s tallest building.  And by ‘climbed flights of stairs’ I mean we ‘pushed like cattle into an elevator and were taken directly to the top.’  The view was so breathtakingly gorgeous that I didn’t even mind the wind that was whipping my hair into my viewfinder as I was taking photos.  It also distracted me enough to not realize that the sun was hidden behind a thick, gray blanket of clouds.  Mario the Meteorologist strikes again.  (His name wasn’t really Mario…)

By the time we made our way to where the ghetto stood in Venice from 1516 until 1797, the sun was slowly making its introduction to my 26th birthday activities.  We walked around the Jewish community, looking at old synagogues and Holocaust memorials until I saw a tent sign that caught my eye.  ‘Keep calm, it’s almost Shabbat’  was placed outside what appeared to be an art gallery, so I popped inside.  The owner and artist was an Orthodox Jew who was fascinated by pop art, and was the friendliest person I encountered in Venice.  The island was, of course, swarming with tourists, so to have a normal chat with a local was refreshing.  Especially someone who was so interested in photography and art.   So I bought a couple of his small canvases before we ventured back outside, where you couldn’t turn in any direction without seeing at least 5 people staring with puzzled expressions at a map.  (To defend my aforementioned embarrassment, there was one American who proclaimed for all to hear ‘You know what I just realized?  That over half these streets are water.  Huh.’  Dude?  You’re in Venice…)  It was a weird experience when, at times, you could hear more American accents than Italian.

On our last full day, tragedy struck.  One of my most beloved belongings in the world is my camera, who I call ‘Big Bertha’ because she is massive.  Bertha was my Christmas/birthday/college graduation present in 2008, as my parents apparently think that my only artistic ability is behind the lens.  (I’ve been trying to tell them that stick-figures are becoming stylish, but they don’t listen.  I’m the only person in my entire immediate family who can’t draw.  But don’t worry, I’ve inherited my parents’ horrible vision in its place.  Thanks, genetics.)  The only things I’ve ever called ‘my children’ are my computer and my camera.  So when Bertha died on June 3, 2013 I was devastated.  Especially since we were on the Rialto Bridge and the sunlight was perfect for snapping photographs.  And no, contrary to popular opinion, I did not break her by falling drunkenly into a canal.  BUT, Bertha’s death was the only thing that wasn’t absolute perfection for my birthday extravaganza.  I honestly couldn’t have dreamed a better trip, and now I can say that I’ve crossed off the #1 destination on my Bucket List.  For reasons unknown, Venice has held the top spot on this list since I was quite young, so now I can continue down the slots until I have seen all there is to see.  AKA-I guess I’ll just have to keep traveling until I end up like Bertha.  Except maybe I’ll want to go out by drunkenly falling into a canal on my 96th birthday…

I was quite ready to come back home to London…until I realized how many children were on the plane with us coming back to Gatwick Airport.  Not only were these delightful tiny humans kicking my chair on most of the journey, but they decided to narrate the trip as well.  Which is why pretty much everyone was uneasy when, as the pilot began his descent towards the runway, all we heard was a tiny voice exclaim ‘We’re goin’ down!!’  Don’t worry, he was just being directionally accurate instead of alerting us that the oxygen masks might be making an appearance any second.  Kids say the darndest things…

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4 thoughts on “And as we descended towards London, all I heard was ‘We’re goin’ down!!!’

  1. Wow! Most excellent photos Kobi! For some reason, I was expecting the woman with the blue powder to be a hunched over little old lady, maybe casting a spell on the canals. The reality was more “I’m a crazy mime who found blue powder!”

  2. Pingback: It’s kind of like ‘What About Bob?’, but in real life. | Lollygagging in London

  3. Pingback: In mystery the soul abides | Lollygagging in London

  4. Pingback: Bertha pulled a Jesus | Lollygagging in London

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