August 30-31, 2000
If there was one place that was on my must see list of Italy, it was Venice. I was determined to see this pearl in the sea, yet could not find a place to make reservations that wasn't booked or even get a good word on the street of where to go. My plan was to find a camping ground in the mainland or out at sea (they have something sort of like Long Beach Island near by) and sleep in my sleeping bag out in the open.
All was falling into place, except for when I arrived it was raining and it continued to do so all night. Luckily, the campgrounds have cabins for rent just as well. Two Dutch girls from my train came with me, but had their own tent… it put a damper on their whole experience and they were gone just before the second rainy night. With sleeping bag + aluminium cabin, I had a comfy little nest that I shared with a [white] South African guy who told me of the developing racial and social problems there. "If you want to see Africa, go now. It's falling apart."
Everyone says Venice is falling apart too, but in a different, slow and gentle way. It is crowded with tourists, yet like juggling a schedule in Rimini to have the beach to myself, I stumbled off the map to long stretches of tranquil places not so out of reach that were mine to wander, sharing them only with a few ducks padding beside me.
Aqua green canals lap against crumbling brick stairs below the hundreds of bridges that make Venice a very walkable place. No cars, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, buses, or trains speeding about, just the silent gondolas slicing into the evening sky and ducking into secret corners. The cool waterways and curiosity have put the travel fatigue into remission.
Police cars, mail Jeeps, taxis, buses, even garbage trucks are little motor boats that work the main canals. Venice is another world whose mere existence is improbable in the scheme of things, and with the threat of global warming melting glaciers, it could easily become the next Atlantis.
There are some churches and strange exhibitions to peek inside, but the most enjoyable thing to do is take an hour walk around the streets/canals and winding passages. After all, I am here to see the streets… it's amazing how an hour walk becomes an entire day!