The ride to Venice on the ItaliaRail took three and a half hours, bringing us through lusciously green countryside, moving along at speeds of up to 240 mph. I got some work done writing, edited some photos from the night before, and stared out the window watching the world fly by. When we arrived at the Venezia Santa Lucia train station in the early afternoon, the host of the Airbnb we had booked to stay at met us and was going to bring us to the apartment. Originally when we heard she was bringing us there I envisioned a small car, typical of those that are seen buzzing everywhere around Europe. Having no real clue as to the ins and outs of Venice, shy for a few movies (namely The Italian Job’s opening heist scene), I had no idea that we would be snaking through the labyrinth of stone streets, through countless courtyards, past compact glass storefronts with every kind of souvenir and local artistry you could ever imagine, and what seemed like a million small footbridges crossing the causeways. I was enamored, my camera’s viewfinder pressed against my eye as if I was running out of time alive to take photos of my gorgeous surroundings. At one point the hostess turned to Brad, noticing I was no longer with them, and asked if I was going to be okay navigating on my own… he laughed and explained that I’d catch up shortly as soon as I had snapped a photo of whatever scene caught my eye.
We arrived at the house in about 15 minutes and after being acquainted with the sparse second floor apartment, were left to our own devices. Having not had breakfast we arranged our stuff in our respective rooms, and headed out for lunch at one of the many courtyard restaurants, sitting at a table in the sunshine and people watching as we ate. After settling up our tab with the hostess, we attempted to recreate our path back to the train station, knowing it was the most centrally accessible area we could wander from. The narrow streets made for an exciting walk, and we made a lot of u-turns at dead ends where the walkway would simply give way to a river with no forewarning. I took pictures as we walked around the Venice, and we stopped after a while for Brad to get some gelato. As the afternoon hours passed, the sun made its way across the sky and the shadows on buildings became too harsh for me to photograph. We went back to the house to hang out for a while, and each inadvertently passed out on our beds for close to two hours. Waking up to the sounds of people in the streets outside my window, I swapped camera batteries, loaded up my tripod, and woke Bradley so our adventures could continue into the night.
Venice is famous for the Rialto Bridge, a behemoth of stone originally constructed in 1531, that spans over the Grand Canal. I figured that would be a good place to start shooting during sunset, but turned away when I found the bridge covered in tourists taking their own photos; it didn't speak to me the way I hoped it would, and I was envious of painters who can simply opt to leave people out of their images. Not one to let a good sky go to waste, I led us back across the San Polo district of Venice until we arrived back at the train station. I set up shop with my tripod on the north side of the city, my lens aimed east down the Grand Canal as ships made their way down the river. As the sky lost its bright blue tones and settled into deeper hues, we moved to a different location to shoot. I spent quite a while taking pictures down a small causeway, eventually getting enough material to put the lens cap back on and meander on towards dinner. I’m immensely grateful that Brad has been on enough photo adventures with me in the past to know that I say “just one more shot” a hundred times before actually being done; his patience was not taken for granted... sometimes it really is worth while to stick around for one more shutter click.
Despite being in an incredibly old Italian city, the fact that it was Cinco de Mayo left us in the mood for margaritas. We used Google to our advantage and found a Mexican restaurant a fifteen-minute walk away, making the perfect destination for dinner. We were seated after a short wait, a table for two outside the restaurant where the waiter would occasionally remember to check in on us, refilling drinks and eventually bringing our meals. We called it a night around 23h00, getting incredibly lost on the way back to the house when Brad’s iPhone kept suggesting roads that ended at the water instead of those with bridges to where we needed to be. I eventually ruled his phone out of our navigation equipment list, and used my own to get us back to our apartment.
After rinsing off in what honestly may be the world’s smallest shower (it’s literally 22”x22”, impossible to move around in without bashing elbows on the frosted Plexiglas sides) I sat on my bed and talked to Bradley between the walls about what was on the schedule for tomorrow. The weather is supposed to turn to rain in the late afternoon, but if we manage an early start we can probably get most of our itinerary completed before the skies open up. We walked eleven miles around Venice today, most of which I did with a heavy backpack on… Not bad for a guy who isn’t actually hiking anywhere.