ITALY AND SPAIN 2010

 

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER real time are in [square brackets].

 

Trip Log 7.  Day 7.  Second Full Day in Venice

Tuesday October 19, 2010. Murano Glass Factory, San Giorgio Tower View of Venice's St. Mark's Square


Buon = Good, Giorno = Day (= Morning if morning), Oro = Hour.

BUON GIORNO!

It's Tuesday morning 9 am, a clear, beautiful day outside. Today we are going to a glass factory on the very famous Venetian island of Murano. Also, I may buy a new camera to replace the one that popped its button.

But first time out for something that happened yesterday. Sharon saw a bird that looked like a Peregrine Falcon, high up on Venice's Campanile (tower), but she didn't remember that that bird was here. I recalled that it was, and the key marks were the black marks on the sides of the head and overall appearance of the bird as it flew. {I saw the bird fly in and called Bob to see it. "It's a rook", he said. "No, I can see its head and it's a falcon of some type".. That is when he said that the Peregrine is here in Europe, so we count it now as a trip bird.}

Back to today now.

Sharon reviews my first report, adding comments and corrections. Thanks Sharon.

Early this morning Jerry went down on a scouting mission and found his way over walking paths to St. Mark's {I love the way Bob sticks to the English "St. Mark's when here on every map it's San Marco}. He comes back and tells us about this, and we decide we can save half an hour or so if we just walk there. Good going, Jerry!

We load up with our gear and take off. In one of the shops, we see your average Italian chair.

Not too soon after, we encounter perhaps thirty men all dressed exactly alike, light powder blue wind breakers and shorts, trotting towards like a cross-country team. They pass two cute girls who are VERY interested in all these athletes, and they fall in behind the men, giggling and laughing, as if to say, "Look what WE'RE doing." They quickly disappear behind us.

As we get to St. Mark's, something we have discussed and fully expect happens. A salesman offers us a free ride to Murano on his high-speed water taxi if we'll just agree to sit in on a demonstration and promotion. We don't have to buy anything, but we can if we wish. We discussed this and know they are going to pressure us to buy stuff, but we are good resistors (1 MegOhm speaking for myself), and we welcome the challenge. They say the fast boat will take us through the scenic canals of Venice, but they don't. They take us the quicker route, going around the main island of Venice.

We zip by what is labeled the naval academy, and as we are "bang bang my baby shot me down" bang banged around the slightly rough water, I retold a couple of stories to stave off the seasickness I feel coming over me. {We are in a beautiful fast boat with all teak walls and floors, but we are inside the boat. Warm but hard for Bob with his tendency towards seasickness.}

The first is a story my Uncle Peter Hilty told me. I'll probably get some names and who did whats wrong, but oh well, it's a story. He said he and a good friend of his were in a play, and the situation was that they were in a ship on the high seas when Uncle Peter tripped on a chair leg and fell as he was walking around on the stage, but got right back up. His friend, with no hesitation piped up the line, "Rough Seas, Captain." No wait. Peter wasn't IN the play. It was another friend. Hmm.

The second one is the story of generations learning from their grandpas. My second daughter Shandra and husband Jeff have four children. From youngest to oldest, at the time of this story, they were 2, 4, 6 and 8. Tommy was the youngest, and his closest sister, in age, was Sydney, 4. Background: When Muhammed Ali first fought Joe Frazier, neither one had ever been knocked down in a professional fight. When Ali knocked Frazier down, announcer Howard Cosell said, with all the bluster only he could do, repeated, "DOWN GOES FRAZIER," three times. Only for Frazier, he said FRA-zhuh, not FRA-zher. And ever since these grandkids were babies, I've been saying that line every time it was appropriate when we were watching something on TV or seeing something where someone fell down, but I couldn't tell if they ever actually HEARD it. Until one time Tommy was trying to walk and starting to fall backwards, just collapsed his knees and sat kerplunk down on the floor. Sydney took the lollypop out of her mouth and said, "Down goes Frazier," then back in went the lollypop.

I told that one after I tried to shift positions to take a photo and a wave made me fall right back into my seat. Down goes Frazier.

Well we make it over to Murano about a quarter after 11, and my seasickness gradually gives it up so I'm ok in about ten minutes. Christian, our personal attendant and salesman, gives us the spiel about this being our lucky day, that it's promotion day, and blah blah dee blah blah blah. {He takes us into the manufacturing room of the glass factory where three men are blowing molten glass, making a beautiful chandelier. It was amazing to watch them put the glass back into the furnace, pul it out and shape the glass with big tweezers and scissors. Christian now tells that one of them will "... and he's going to make a miniature glass horse in a minute and a half."} There is such a horse already made for us to see as an example as to what the artist's goal is.

Well he proceeds to do this, all or most of which I get on video, and it's as magic as it sounds like it must be {It is truly amazing to watch him pull out the molten glass like it is taffy and shape it into horse's legs, bending them into a standing position}. When he finishes, he says now this has to cool for some number of hours before anyone can touch it {He puts a piece of paper on it that quickly catches on fire to prove how hot it is.}. I thought we might be able to buy the very horse we saw made, but no.

So Christian gives us his final bit before taking us to the show room. "Because of a special permit they have where they write down that we (customers) are salesmen rather than end-use purchasers, we don't have to pay a 20% tax. And because they like us, they're going to give us another 40% price drop in addition to the 20%. Now if we feel like paying the full price, he will understand, but all we HAVE to pay is blah blah dee blah".

We head into the seven deadly rooms (no photos no videos - audio is ok), and the pieces are enormous, impressive and spectacular. The first one we look at says 22,000 euros. Let's see move decimal over one place to the left. That's 2200. Double that. 4400. Double that again 8800. Add 22,000 and 8,800 to get 30,800. That's the price in good old American Dollars. But wait! We get to knock off 40%. That's less $12,320, or about $18,500. Knock off 20% of that, or 3,700 to get about $14,800.

Mister, how on earth can we NOT buy this 100% breakable piece of art? Uh, you ever hear of grandkids? {It was very beautiful glassware and individual pieces by different artists but again, very expensive and breakable. Not our cup of tea or tea cups, I guess.}

We continue through the rooms, and there's lots of stuff I like and some I love and lots ridiculous, or more accurately put, I don't like. But I think the cheapest thing is 10,000 euros or so. So we wait to finish this bit, so we can go down to what we take to calling the "gift shop," where the prices are more in line with our thinking.

We pass through the tea set room.

We find lots and lots of stuff to buy and we buy a big chunk. You know, it's a clever thing for somebody to show you a 22,000 euro item, then turn you loose in a 20 euro shop. It feels like you're getting it for practically free, it does.

We keep handing our choices over to a new guy. Christian, after figuring out that we didn't have $10,000 or so to spend, hustled back out to meet the next speed boat. The new guy, very charming and friendly, added up our purchases, sent us over to the cashier, where they happily took credit cards. As my friend Jim Hustler used to say, just upon leaving a party, and following the statement, "It was nice having you over," with "It was nice being had."

We head outside, and our stomachs guide us over to a canal-side restaurant. We enjoy the sun, and are waited on by a pleasant young girl with what I'm going to call a sword through a fold in the upper part of her ear, then back out a fold in the back of her ear. Mama mia. Italians who serve English-speaking patrons are sometimes great at mimicking the exact proper inflections, and make you think they speak and understand all English. But things ain't always as they seem.

After we ate, I tossed her the line my wife Sharon recently learned, "Did anyone tell you yet today that you're doing a really good job?" To which she said in perfect phraseology, "Whut?"

It's about 1 pm as we finish lunch, and we have gelato on our minds. We walk past the shops, window shopping and admiring as we go,

we cross a bridge, turn left and there is a nice old church, a park, another church and a gelato bar. Nice. We take some photos and polish off that gelato.

Inside one of the churches, there's a baptismal marble "box", for lack of being able to think of the right word {Font}. It's about four feet long, three feet across, and three feet deep. And marble. Carved into it is the year CXX. Now if you remember your Roman numeral counting from the VIIth grade or whenever, that's the year 120. I mean they almost hadn't collected time into years yet.

We now take the vaporetto to St. Giorgio's Island, where there is a beautiful white church and a bell tower, aka campanile, of which famous traveler and book author Rick Steves says,"It has the best view of Venice."

It's not exactly clear where you go to take the elevator up, and we make an initial wrong guess, then realize that you go through the church to get there.

We do.

You go up so many at a time in the elevator, and when they let you out, it's pretty spectacular. The day is clear and gorgeous, and we start filling up the memory cards of our cameras. Life is great. Here are some of the shots. I take video also, and am in the right time in the right place with the right stuff doing the right thing, when the bells are rung. Man, they are LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD!

When we finish up, take the elevator back down, then take in the church itself. Shirley particularly likes the floor.

We catch a vaporetto to Venice's St. Mark's, and watch a huge passenger ship coming in, with a single tugboat pulling the OPPOSITE direction for control.

Landing at St. Mark's and heading for the start of the path to our apartment, I enjoy all the stuff going on.



Looking back to San Giorgio.

But we're getting antsy to get back to our apartment. We come to our path, take a right and walk home again. It's much faster, plus we get exercise and enjoy what's to be seen on the walk.

Shirley and Jerry go upstairs, but Sharon and I stop in at Marco's (Polo) photo shop. His final offer (also his initial offer) is 229 euros. I said MY final offer was 229 E, but he has to throw in a 6.90 E lens cleaning cloth in a cup-like leather holder.  He cogitates for about three seconds, smiles and said, "Deal!"

So that's the story of how Sharon got her new camera. Just don't give me too hard a time when I talk about "my" new camera.

I found on the internet that you can buy a button replacement kit for my broken camera (this particular problem is apparently not uncommon at all), and then following the crystal clear instructions on this website, do the replacement yourself. I skimmed through it and there were only six or seven words I'd never heard of before. Anyway, Sharon's plan is for me to fix MY camera. Which I agree to try. {He does keep saying that this new camera is MINE, but he is using it for this trip and is liking it more and more. Pretty soon , he starts calling it "our" camera. I guess I know what that means.}

As we are playing Rummycube, we have been singing Oklahoma, from the musical with the same name, for about half an hour, each time till we run out of words. Then it'll be out of the conversation for a bit. Then we'll sing it again. Sharon, laughing, says there should be a new play called "Iowa". Then I said "the state so nice you have to spell it twice", to get it to fit into the song Oklahoma. Then we all start singing IowaIowa, spelling it out like the song.

Maybe we're a little goofy from riding the waves and buying glass today.

Sister Shirley tells a story about a little boy (I think this was a true story) who raised his hand in school, and asked the teacher, "Can I go to the rest room?" She berated him, saying, "It's MAY I go to the rest room, not CAN I go to the rest room. Sit over there in the corner and think about the difference between those two words." He sat in a chair in the corner, till he finally had to let loose and wet his pants and the chair. The teacher angrily sent him to the principal's office where he had to wait in the outer office till he was called. The friend of Sharon's, who told her the story, and I believe worked in the office, asked the little boy what was the problem. He said, slowly shaking his head, "May and Can. May and Can."

To end the day, I'll tell daughter Tara's email a couple of days ago. There were two brothers in the Ozarks. Let's all them Zeke and Jeb. Zeke was married and one day Jeb came around the corner of the barn and spied Zeke doing gyrations in front of the John Deere, parked in the barn. Zeke stripped his shirt off as he danced around, then started to take his socks off. Zeke stopped him by yelling out, "Zeke, what in tarnation are you doin'?" Zeke said "I told the doctor my wife wasn't interested in having relations lately, and he said I had to do somethin' new to a tractor."

Little known fact of the day: I took all the photos in this report with my old camera and a paper clip. Call me MacGruber (A Saturday night Live character, spoofing a several-decades-earlier action character called McGiver, who could make bombs out of shoe laces and glue, etc.).

So now here I am, charging the battery to my, er, Sharon's new camera for tomorrow. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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