Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Renaissance Fare

No. 44: Become a Renaissance Man

...Becky and I are in Italy now and are spending our second evening in Venice picking up phrases like ciao bella and bring me spaghetti.

When we landed at the Venice airport yesterday morning we were more than a little dazed from our all night bender in Barcelona, though meeting that restaurant-manager turned out to be a stroke of luck. Simmo, as his name believe it or not turned out to be, introduced us to his friends, showed us a good time and then very nicely drove us to the airport. So no date rape there. Now in Italy, however, we were going to get screwed.

Standing in the airport we were confused to realize we weren’t actually in Venice. I mean, the name of the airport has Venice in it. But a bit of investigating, in which I gesticulated wildly at an Italian security guard and he smirked at my American-ness, revealed to us we must take some sort of boat transport to reach the floating city. Which was a big duh for us, because, duh, it’s a floating city.

Unfortunately, we were unprepared and unresearched, which are the times in life when one is most susceptible to highway robbery. This proved true in that moment. The only person we could talk into ferrying us across the water was a man running a small motorized boat. He wanted €90 for the ten minute trip, and he didn’t even have the decency to look sorry about it. Not knowing what else to do, we agreed.

We were certainly fleeced by that man, but I think both Becky and I forgot our quickly emptying pockets when we began to ride through the tiny canals. Oh, my heart sang. It was one of those things that is so beautiful, it makes you a little sad because surely nothing will ever be that good again. The midday sun was making the frescoed walls look golden and the arched windows, stone columns and green-tiled roofs glittered with the reflection of the silver water. It looked like someone had painted a picture of Italy, then hit it with a splash of magic dust just for our arrival.

Becky and I stood in the boat, grins the likes of idiots on our faces, and periodically resorted to laughter. We couldn’t believe our good fortune.

It’s nighttime now on day two, and we’ve invented a thing we like to call Second Dinner. Becky and I have eaten more fettucini than the Super Mario Brothers, and we’re not at all ashamed about it...

...By the time Becky and I make it back to London, we’ve further put stock in the popular myth that the two of us should not be left alone. It’s something we’d heard before, but we always laughed it off, like when old ladies say not to swim after eating or when Rebecca tells you it’s important to have health insurance. But now the pattern is becoming undeniable.

Our last day it Italy saw us pick pocketed by a Roman Dodger-wannabe, and we exited the boot-shaped country with no camera, no cash and no credit cards. And thanks to new European Union laws, I didn’t even have a stamp in my passport to prove I was there. This thievery was doubly disappointing because, as Becky mournfully pointed out as we stood stranded in an Italian train station, it meant we didn’t get to eat that day.

More pressing a problem, however, was that we had absolutely no way of purchasing the €5 metro tickets to catch our flight back to the more civilized England. The ticket man behind the front counter was very, very unmoved by the story I gave him, and so I did what plenty of middle class American girls had done before me: I panhandled.

I guess my family’s predictions eight months ago about how my time in Europe would ultimately turn out weren’t so off the mark. But I did get those Euros. When I smugly handed them over to the unhelpful ticket man, he didn’t look the least bit curious or concerned as to how I came by them. Bloody Italians.

Once we finally made it into the foyer of our Leyton flat, hungry, disheveled and humbled from our ordeal, Lauren threw her arms around us for a good five minutes. I don’t think she’s going to let me go on another holiday any time soon...