Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

So it has been a long long while since I have last updated.
I will try to address everything in order (because i get ocd about these things) and then tomorrow will come the massive pictures.
First: last update was coming back from Florence. I left on saturday morning with roomate gabby, and friend monica and our other two friends justina and roberto and justina's boyfriend. we arrived 11 ish or so, and got breakfast and put our stuff in the hostel (which was AMAZING). we were 6, so we shared two big 3 bed-rooms and had a shared bathroom. it was extremely clean and basically hotel like. we walked around ALL day, hit up the leather and open air market. i wasn't planning on buying anything, but you know how those italian vendors are..i got a jacket and a bag and a scarf. the jacket was thanks to friends who came in the store with me and basically bartered for me and got the price way way down. from there we made our way to the duomo, which was spectacular as usual. we climbed all the way up the campanile, where we got magnificent panoramas and views on the entire city. the weather was crystal clear and warm, honestly could not have asked for a better day. we walked all the way across the city to the ponte vecchio, which was beautiful. on the monument on the ponte, there is a gate where people attach locks as a symbol of love, and since it was valentines day...there were a lot. we saw a couple attach one, say something, and then close their eyes and throw the key backwards into the Arno (i think its that river).
At night we went to have dinner at a restaurant by the ponte, which wasn't super good but we had a really good time chatting and laughing and reliving the day. saturday night we got wine and had a quiet night at the hotel chitchatting some more, learning some polish (justina and areg). we were very tired from walking around all day, but sunday morning we did it all over again, this time carrying our bags with us (check out was at 10:30). we walked the market again (open 7 days!!) and this time went past the Uffizi where the Davide by Michelangelo, we didn't go in because the line was an hour and a half long of wait. we walked up the side of the river, and up to another beautiful church and piazza (where those four boys were, busy being italian). more walking around, and then we headed home around 6 or so, got into perugia around 8 and immediately went to a pizza place to buy ourselves our own personal pizzas. it was an absolutely amazing and fun weekend, Firenze is really a unique city.

the following week (last week) was nice, it was quiet, on wednesday we had Tandem again, and went to aperitivo for it which was nice as always. talked a lot with an italian girl named Marisa who Gabby had previously met, we are planning a dinner soon because we both love to cook. Much of the week was spent in anticipation for Venezia.
It finally happened, thursday at 11 we all ran from school to catch our 12:17 train headed to Firenze and then Venezia.

So Venezia...gosh there are no words to describe Venezia, and even less to describe Venezia during Carnevale. I had been once before during a senior year exchange, but this time was just a thousand times different/better/intense. It was completely indescribable. Let's start with the arrival: we get to the train station, and we just see hordes of people outside. I see water, and my first thought is aw cute there's a fountain in the piazza by the train station! but no...its the canal (obviously). we find our vaporetto station, get a ticket, and take it down to Zattere, our 'neighborhood' if you will. we get off, walk right along the canal and get to our apartment. this apartment was ridiculous. it was RIGHT on the water, you open the front door, and a yard and half from it is the water. it was like having your own boardwalk and view of the ocean. the apartment had a huge kitchen/living area/dining room area, with couches, tables and a tv. there were two rooms for two people in each, and TWO FULL BATHROOMS!! the couches in the living room were beds, so me and gabby slept there and the other girls got the rooms. it was so nice having an apartment to come home to, you can't even realize.
immediately upon arrival, Monica, Gabby, Sara and I went out to walk around. our neighborhood was quiet, but as we got towards the center we found that every little piazza was filled with these mini 'raves', people in costume having a good time and dancing to people who brought huge stereos or had brought instruments and were banging away at them. it was phenomenal, and only got us more excited for the next few days. we headed home not too late because we wanted to have a full day on friday.
Friday morning we got up early and were out the door by 8:30. We just explored and explored and explored, walked absolutely everywhere. we wandered the streets near us, crossed to the main island, and got to st marks which was full but not too full. we walked down the walkway by San Marco's, where we stopped and got a cafe and enjoyed the view and the SUNSHINE. we had bought masks, and decided to put them on. they were barely on our faces when this barcelonian girl asks for a picture with us! needless to say it made us feel very happy/authentic. after cafe we took a vaporetto to Murano, where the blown glass is made. we got a free demonstration of glass blowing (very impressive) and then walked around Murano, which is a very cute residential island. it is different from Venezia proper, but has a lot of the same feel. the architecture on all parts of the island is clearly influenced by the middle east (Venezia having been a stop on the silk road). the houses have middle eastern windows with cool curves and really nice shapes and colors. in addition, everywhere you looked there were people dressed up in elaborate costumes, usually in pairs, with magnificent colors and ribbons and lace and masks. that took up so much time, seeing a splash of color in the corner of your eye and running towards it before it disappeared into the crowds. after murano we took the vaporetto home, which itself is like a mini tour. Friday night we all had dinner at home, and headed out all masked up to experience the streets of Venezia during Carnevale. we found a piazza full of people that had a band playing what I felt was authentic Brasilian style carnevale music. there were saxophones, drum set, a bell, whistles and big drums (the kind slung around your back). the music was great, and we danced for a long time.
After crashing at home, we woke up saturday morning ready to go again. This time when we got to San Marco...the hordes of people we hadn't seen on friday had all of a sudden landed. there were so many people i can't even convey the sheer masses in any way. the pictures tomorrow will explain it all :-) me and Sara walked down the San Marco walkway again, and got panini and sat in a sun filled piazza. the weather was gorgeous, and everybody was sitting and soaking up the sun and just enjoying life. Something I love about Venezia is the feeling of absolute joy and happiness in the air. it seemed like the air was saturated with a joie de vivre which is missing from a lot of places in the world. We then walked all the way to the other side of the Venezia island, from which we could see Murano and the Cimetero, the island which is entirely a cemetery (brings to mind Pere LaChaise). We were exhausted, and after a while headed home. We had dinner at a restaurant just a little ways from our apartment, and then Monica, Gabby, Caitlin and I headed to Piazza Margherita just around the corner, where it seems the Venetian italians go. mostly a bunch of crazy kids running around and having fun, we got accosted by so many who saw we were obviously tourists, but for the most part they were all really nice. We learned some Veneto! (dialect). here goes: 'sta festa ze bea (questa festa e bella) and mi stago ai zattere (i'm from zattere or i live in zattere). it was loads of fun, confetti was EVERYWHERE (it's still in my pant pockets, bags and boots). Sunday morning we got up a little big later, and headed back to Margherita to see how the damage of the night before had been cleaned (they have cleaning crews on standby, literally, who work all night to make the piazza clean again). we got pastries at a really cute pasticceria (where we all found our dream man, a very cute pastry chef/apprentice. i mean really: cute, venetian AND a pastry chef?!?!?! could it be real?!?!). by then it was time to go home, we packed the bags and headed off to the train station, leaving beautiful Venezia behind...
of course me blabbing about Venezia doesn't really represent how beautiful it was, so tomorrow definitely will come all the pictures.

I miss Venezia :-(
But next stop: Roma questo weekend!!!!

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