Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It’s decided. I am moving to Italy (and Brussels, and Dublin and probably every other European city I go to).
Venice is incredible! Mindblowingly incredible. I cannot think of a better adjective to describe such a phenomenon (I’ve decided it can’t just be considered a “city”). Wildly romantic, aesthetically perfect and simmering with the best smells, food and drink I’ve ever experienced. What kind of God descended upon this place back in the day and said “this shall be the most beautiful place ever known to man in every regard?” Whoever it was, proved to be extremely successful, and then some. Narrow bustling streets, overly excited Italian discussions, and crystal blue canal routes jammed with black gondolas.
But let me backtrack for a moment to my last day in Belgium (can you tell I’m excited about Italy! Hahah). After getting quite the exposure to Brussels, traversing just about every inch of the cobble stone alleys with some friends, I decided it would be a good idea to get out of the city and experience some authentic, un-tourist tainted Belgium. So I took a train out to the country side. Doing things by my usual play it by ear mentality, I walked over to the train station, found a name on the map I liked and got the first departing train. About half way through I figured out that no one was routinely checking tickets, and that it should be, hypothetically, a breeze to get off the train and back on at my own leisure. So that’s what I did. Every town that either looked interesting or I could see some kind of big statue, I jumped off and walked around for a bit. It was a really hit of miss methodology, but enabled me to at least sample some of the northern areas. Eventually I ended up in Antwerpen, which is this totally random shopping district out of New York City, except all of the Gucci stores and what not are constructed in to ancient, castle-esque buildings. It was just about the most bizarre fusion of old and new architecture I’ve witnessed. I heard that there was a world famous chocolatier who was attempting to build a church (on a slightly smaller scale of course) solely out of his homemade goods. All I can say is: my nose has never been so totally tantalized. (luckily I had a handful of Belgium chocolates in my purse form the day before). Yum, and quite impressive.
When I got back ended up talking to this guy who was on his way to Cario and had been living in Barcelona from Missouri, and a girl who had just been travelling the Middle East and been in France for 2 months. To put a long story short: it was a trio made in heaven. According to them, I had been in Brussels for 3 days and not yet experienced proper Lebanese food, and considering the fact he was fluent in Arabic I found myself being whizzed to a back alley Arabic speaking nook in the wall ordering the best falafels in town. It was cool, because all of the people in the restaurant were so interested in the fact this random white dude was speaking perfect Arabic, we were flocked by interested, talkative, inquisitive Lebanese. What was supposed to be a hour dinner, ended up being about 2 ½, with an intensive introduction to Arabic lesson for me. Eventually we had to end the diner short, since there were some other people waiting back at the hostel for us to go out, but I’d say it takes the cake for the best dining experience thus far this trip.
Later that night there was an epic thunder/rain storm, so the only natural thing to do was to run around like wild animals dancing in the rain in front of ancient churches. I think “raining in Brussels” would be an awesome acoustic guitar song. Again, my happiness levels exceeded an unprecedented degree. It was hard to say farewell to such invigorating folk, but at the same time that is the nice thing about travelling like this: it is like a constant sample of people. It is actually very freeing, since you know you can just be yourself with no restraint or repercussions in the long run, because the likelihood of waking up the next morning and never seeing them again is very probable. Biggest lesson learned so far= the power of confidence. It is a totally valuable skill to know, and one that I am hopefully getting better at as a product.

Okay…so Venice! I don’t think I’ll ever be quite sure if the fact I am in Venice is a magical experience, or it is the fact that being here was actually a gift from some dude in the sky. Seriously. As a product of my inability to understand time differences/setting my wristwatch to the appropriate one, I ended up waking up 1 hour and 8 minutes after when I had planned on taking a taxi to the airport (at 3:00 in the morning mind you!). It was bad. Especially since at that hour (being 4:08 a.m.) all public transportation is closed and the only way to get to the bus I needed to be at was to take a taxi. I stuffed all of my things into my backpack and ran out into the streets praying to god the taxi, by some miracle was still there, albeit pissed I was sure. Unfortunately it was not. So I was left with no phone, no way of contacting the owner of the hostel, and no number to the nearest taxi service…all of which were increasingly not good due to the sheer sketchy factor of Brussels after dark. So... there was nothing else to do, but to sit on the steps, convincing myself it would be okay that I was going to miss my plane, and see what the universe would present. But then, three Italian drunks staying at the hostel came into my life….and I can honestly say I’ve never in my life been so over joyed to be in the presence of drunk men. They were totally decent, let me use their phone, called a taxi for me and waited until it came to keep me safe while giving my iced muffins. You never know what to expect in life.
Unfortunately my only choice was to take a taxi directly to the airport, which was 45 minutes away, since I only had about 55 until the plane began to board. In the end, I made it with about 10 minutes to spare, as a product of me somehow explaining to the drive that speeding was okay despite a thick language boundary. The only major issue of the process was that the ride alone cost 112 Euros…yeeeah. Major bummer.
BUT! I AM HERE IN VENICE! Sipping peach juice after feasting on about a pound of fruit from a huge market nearby. When I got here I checked in to the hostel and bought a 3 day water taxi ticket. Since I was (and still am) totally sleep deprived, I decided to order a wheel of licorice, some handmade meringues and a pizza margarita and set off for the farther destination the water taxi would take me. That way I could be a passive viewer, while still getting a sense of the city. (trust me the roads that mimic Italy’s primary pasta dish are not easy on a tired mind).
The taxi ended up taking me through the major water canal and on to Lido, a small Island right off of the Venetian coast. It was quite the ride. For the remainder of the day, I sat popping meringues, sleeping on a white rock with my toes in the water, and breathing in the rawness of the ocean air. Seagulls, crystal blue water, white sand, and (as is typically European) half clad gents and ladies. It was the best remedy for a stressed, sleepless mind.
Anyways…now I am back in my hostel (which is on the 5th floor of an alley that a 300 pound person would, without a doubt, have a difficult time in regards to width.
Life is good.
And I am one VERY thankful lady.

p.s. sorry there are no pictures, I lost my camera chord. So as soon as I can figure out how to get a new one or have someone (AHEM *cough cough*MOM) send me one. Sorry!

1 comment:

  1. You could've bought a bike for the cost of that taxi ride, just FYI.

    Another FYI, SPELLING ERROR!:)