The train would leave at 2:30pm for Rome. It was our last day in Venice.
No solid plans; we wanted to see our beautiful town one last time. Boarded a water bus for San Marco Plaza (if you are going for a final stroll, what better place?). Worked our way down the Grande Canal, smiling at the newbie tourists shooting everything and anything with their cameras – what a difference a few days made. Stepped onto the ancient paving, walking slowly through the plaza one last time (careful not to pass between the pillars). Listened the the cries of the hawkers, the whine of cameras, the screams of the gulls. Streams of tourists, Orientals, Germans, French, English, Italian, and nobody got uptight by this babel of languages.
My sister wanted to show us a specific mask show, the shop-of-shops, Ca’ del Sol. Nice place a couple of tiny twisty blocks in on a quiet canalled street. JB and the sis oohed and ahhed and laughed, trying on new faces. I bought a small pin, a trip trinket to set with the rest. JB put on one mask and asked me to take her picture. When I did, the range-finder / face-recognition software went crazy, picking this face and then that, not sure who was who. I got close, set the distance, snapped.
Back to the hotel area, lunch from a vendor, then recovered our bags from the hotel and slipped aboard our first class rail accommodations. A smooth, unremarkable ride. I watched the last of Italy rush past the window, bluring.
Back in Rome, our familiar stomping grounds. Checked in our bags at the station, found a restaurant, sat inside because of the gathering chill. Nice meal, plenty of bread and olive oil, generous portions. Soccer on a distant telly but nobody paid attention.
We picked up tickets to the airport express, which originates so far down the platform you feel you’ve walked halfway to the airport already. Seriously, 400 meters. That’s over a football field away, a bit of a hike. Thank goodness the ever-attentive sis reminded us to punch the tickets – almost forgot. We rattled through a rainy night to the airport.
Trust the Italians – if you need five signs to find something, there will be only four. Eventually we found where the airport shuttle would have been if it hadn’t just departed for its last run for the night. The cab ride was like nothing I’d ever experienced – if racing at high speeds on wet roads, crossing the double-yellow line, heading off to God knows where appeals, you should consider Italian taxies. But he got the three of us there in three hyperventilating pieces. Good enough rooms though a step down from our customary digs.
Only with the next morning did we realize our balcony looked out over a grey Tyrrhenian Sea. After breakfast, the shuttle carried us to the airport. The final surprise of the trip – across from the hotel was a life-sized replica of an ancient trireme warship. My camera was in my bag; I could only fog the window and whine. Apparently there is same sort of maritime museum there. How could I have missed it?
And that’s our trip. Overall, the early-year weather was perfect, the food wonderful, the sights inspiring. Outside of a little squabbling, our group hung together well.
There is talk of next year. Tuscany, perhaps?