Wednesday, March 22, 2017

[Photos] Viewing in Venezia

I was tempted to call this one "Vomiting in Venezia" to keep up the pattern, but luckily I remained healthy for this leg of the journey!

The middle of the main plaza was often a ridiculous scene of people taking pictures of people with pigeons.

This following scene really caught my eye, so I returned the following afternoon to paint there:

I really lucked out and got to go on a fantastic free walking tour put on by a member of Couchsurfing (CS), which I happened to see when I thought to check CS events on my phone one morning.

You know when you learn a really juicy, memorable fact on a tour / museum / history class? The entire tour was made of such nuggets! Josh made the most inconspicuous street corner come to life through captivating storytelling; his tour was such a treat.

Take this area just outside of a pharmacy, for example. See the groove in the ground, on the bottom just left of the center? (In front of and slightly to the left of that piece of paper on the ground)

This building was once the first pharmacy in Venezia, and waaay back in the day they'd have a gigantic mortar and pestle to make potions and remedies out on the street, so customers could verify the ingredients as it was being made. So that spherical indent in the concrete here is the result of years and years of pounding on that huge stone mortar and pestle. Very cool, eh?

I also felt lucky to stumble upon several free art galleries while in Venezia, which were fun to look at. I was especially thankful that one of these galleries introduced me to Serge Mendjisky's photo collages (Click the image next to "Elsewhere" and you'll see one he did of Venice.)

That gallery had this huge book (above) which I paged through to see more of these photo collages. I also read one of Serge's stories from the book, while I was sitting there—and I'm so curious to read the rest! It was an incredibly huge, heavy book, though—so even if they'd had it available for purchase (and if I'd thought I could afford it), there's no way I would have lugged this around with me on the rest of my travels. I'll have to see if our local libraries have a copy. Doubtful, but worth a look!

This following scene is another that caught my eye, and there was a great spot for me to sit in the sun, so I sat for a few hours to sketch and paint...

... until I really, really had to pee, so I packed up my gear and finished this one in the hostel later that night.

Two days later when I just so happened to cross that same spot, I pulled out my journal and snapped a pic with the finished painting:

One morning I wanted to check out the Accademia bridge, which we'd gone up on the walking tour, but not over to the other side. Just as I was arriving (it's just outside of the picture below, to the left), I stopped to admire these bright shutters on a house:

So, as you can probably guess, I stopped to paint. This time it was a card for a friend.

I saw many inhabitants of that apartment come and go while I was sketching—elderly men, a young lady who went grocery shopping (and later returned), some university students. None of them stopped to see who was sketching their house, but I did have a memorable interaction.

... with a mime / street performer guy. You know, the type that want tourists to take a picture with them for a tip? So he didn't talk, but he made many gestures and facial expressions. I'd passed him on my way into the area, and maybe 15 minutes after I'd sat down, he came over and stood on the end of the black bridge I was drawing.

I had looked up and said "Buongiorno" (Good morning) when he first came over, to which he replied with a nod or some other nonverbal cue. And then my head went back down, and all of my attention returned to painting. He only stayed for perhaps five minutes, and then went off to try some other location near the bridge.

An hour or two later when I'd finished my painting and had packed up, I passed the mime as I was leaving the plaza. He recognized me, and gave a thumbs up sign, and then put out his hand to shake mine. I shook his hand, smiling, and then said, "Do you want to see it?," pointing to my eyes when I said "see" in case he didn't speak English, and forgetting that he couldn't speak to answer.

He nodded enthusiastically while I had already started digging in my bag to pull out the finished card. I showed it to him, and he moved his hands in a clapping motion and said "Bravo, fantastic" in a weird high-pitched, almost robotic way.

I smiled again, grinning at what passersby might have thought of our little interaction there, grateful for the joyful exchange with someone I "knew" (yet didn't know) in this foreign city where I knew no one. The mime and I. And then I waved goodbye to the mime and headed back to my hostel, leaving him to continue his work day among the crowds of tourists.

A nice tourist took this faraway picture for me for my #GlobalSnailMailing project. It was the first post box I had seen which was close enough to a bridge to fit them in the same shot:

Finally, my hostel was fantastic! It's run by a Japanese woman, who does everything herself (front desk, cleaning, bookings). I'd booked it through AirBnb after seeing comments on that said "This is not a party hostel." Woo hoo, that's the place for me! It was the first hostel on this trip where I didn't sleep with earplugs! The room was so quiet.

And the places is called Youth Venice Palace San Marco because the building actually used to be a palace. In fact, that mural on the ceiling in my room is the original!

The door to get into my room was curved and blended in with the surrounding wooden wall. It felt like a secret passageway!

Ai, the owner, was fun to talk with—plus she had the fuzziest, softest dog I've ever pet: Kei! (pronounced "key") He's so big (and she's quite petite), she can ride him like a horse:

Ai was also quite interested in my painting throughout the stay, so I knew I wanted to leave her with a painted postcard as a thank you before I left:

She was very excited, and wanted to try and get the four of us (Ai, me, dog, painting) in a single picture, but Kei wasn't having it:

And thus concluded my time in Venezia. After the week of grocery store eats, I picked up a to-go cup of bolognese pasta from this pasta place below our hostel on Monday as I made my way (on foot this time) back to the train station. (I'd taken the boat "bus" upon arrival, which costs 7.50 euros for a one-way ticket!) 

I got my final Italian gelato before leaving the country (for you, Nicole, as I realized I'd only had it three times during my entire month and a half), and then boarded my train to Munich.
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