Mike is sick. So sick, in fact, that he is going to the doctor. As he points out, it is even of his own volition! That, my friends, is a very sick Mike, indeed. If you have never been around Mike when he is sick (which I hadn’t, really, until the last couple of days), he is a wee bit pathetic. I say that with love, of course, but it is true. And he is very talkative. Much more so than usual… The worse he feels, the more he talks. I tried to encourage him to channel some of that energy into writing a post here, but wouldn’t you know that was exactly when he decided he needed a nap?
However, it is also worth noting that I am about to drive him to the doctor’s office! Woo Hoo! Yay me! Afterwards, I’m planning to drive (all by myself, I might add) to the grocery store! Miracles never cease, but I think I’m mastering this stick driving thing! And, yesterday, I was granted my official residency in Germany (or at least I received the card that had been processed to that effect). Oh yeah.. 🙂
In case you are wondering what a sick Mike looks like (I know that this is a very rare occurrence, and I feel like I must document it with scientific precision!), here you go:
As he says, this is his “sarcophagus pose.” He has basically looked just like this all day today. And yesterday. Poor baby… he has a bacterial infection, the doctor says, so hopefully the meds will knock that sucker out quickly! He’s made a little tower there for himself – trashcan for the Kleenex which doubles as a table for his computer which doubles as a place to rest one’s glasses…
This was yesterday, when he was trying to use the Rote Lampe to break up the infection. Turns out, a trip to the doctor was in order. In addition to getting a script for antibiotics, the doctor also wrote him a prescription to stay home from work for a week! You will notice in the background my attempts to reinforce our German language skills… Everything has been given its German name on a post-it note!
Meanwhile, back to my originally planned post for today: Venice!
Venice was our first official Italian stop (I say official because we did stop at a rest stop and I did drive in Italy!), and we arrived mid-afternoon. I was honestly simply excited to be somewhere where the low temperatures did not involve freezing, to tell you the truth, but even bigger than that, I was in Italy! I can not remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to go to Italy. I’m sure that there were a few years there at the beginning when I didn’t know that it existed, but I don’t remember that!
I felt like Italy was smiling back at me, too! None of the dreaded flood-worthy tides came in while we were there, there was no real rain to speak of (although it had been predicted to rain the whole full day we were there), and it didn’t stink! Everyone always says, “Oh Venice is lovely, but it sure does stink!” Well, not while we were there! Hooray! We had a lovely hotel convenient to San Marcos (which defies imagination) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Even though it was a dream come true, there were 2 things that stood out as pretty major disappointments:
1. The food. Italian food is supposed to be pretty much can’t miss, right? I enjoyed all of the food I had in Italy outside of Venice (pastas, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, etc.), but Venice was VERY hit or miss. I was served a plate of linguine with a frozen mixed vegetable topping and then had to pay not only for the dish itself (majorly overpriced), but also for the chair in which I sat (cover charges are everywhere). Fortunately, the next day, we found a non-touristy place for lunch and then took the wonderful advice of a dear reader and friend for dinner and had a fabulous meal. Thanks, Lindy!
The best Caprese salad I had in Italy! Yummy!
2. The 1st gondola guy tried to rip us off. We’d just had a tour during which our tour guide was especially emphatic that they would try to milk tourists, and then he went and tried to con us into taking a tour for a LOT more money than we would ever want to pay for that. And then, he wouldn’t take us when I reminded him that the fares were regulated and that I wanted to pay the established rate. We found another (much nicer) gondola guy, but by that time, Mike was pretty much over it. We did learn a lot on our gondola ride, and I’m glad we did it, but I sure do wish it had gone better at the start. Our tour guide said that she’s heard of people being charged over 500 EURO for a gondola ride… Totally not worth that, I can assure you…
In any case, here are some pictures of the Venice we saw:
San Giorgio Maggiore by night. This was always across the canal from where we were (even when we crossed the canal), but it was a sight to behold!
Inside the Santa Maria della Salute, which means “St. Mary’s of Health.” A lot of the churches in the area were built right after they had one plague or another, and the churches were meant to bless the people with health. This one is important to Venetians as it is said to represent their triumph over adversity. Every year, they have a festival as an expression of thanks for Venice’s delivery. We saw one of the specially built bridges to accommodate the influx of people who come carrying lanterns as a part of the festivities.
The outside of the Salute Church, which is the unofficial face of Venice, as nearly every movie or representation of Venice features this church.
The Rialto (and most famous) bridge in Venice.
At the naval base in Venice… this is what made Venice so powerful, really, that they could crank out the boats in no time. The fact that they were so conveniently located for trading didn’t help, either, and I’m sure that that made it even more convenient for all of their looting! Venice is famous for snatching statues and relics and the like…
The Ducal Palace, right next to the Basilica of San Marcos… San Marcos used to be the private church for the Doge! Seriously, that is incredible! You can’t really see it here, but 2 of the columns on the palace are pink, which indicated where the Doge would stand to address the people.
View of Venice from the Bell Tower at San Marcos. While offering cool views of Venice, the Campanile di San Marcos has an interesting history all of its own. At 98.6 meters high, it is one of the tallest structures in Venice, and was built originally in 1514. It had to be reconstructed in 1912 after it fell in 1902. Yep.. it just fell down. Things have a way of shifting and sorting when you are on an island created out of nothing much…
On top of the Basilica di San Marco stand replicas of 4 horses that were originally installed at the church in 1254. Of course, that wasn’t their first stop, being one of many examples of all the looting… Some people say that they go as far back as decorating the Arch of Trajan, which puts them around 1900 years old! In 1204 Doge Enrico Dandolo sent them back to Venice as part of the loot sacked from Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade. Napoleon grabbed them in 1797 but they were returned to Venice in 1815. The original horses were inside the museum…
St. Mark’s, which is also called Chiesa d’Oro (the church of gold). This was easily the coolest thing we saw in Venice in my opinion, and Mike said that it even topped the Sistine Chapel in his book. Everything in this church is decorated with mosaics, and there was an awful lot of gold that makes it all so lovely! Historically, it was a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, and from the looks of things, they had a lot of wealth and a lot of power! The church was originally consecrated in 1071, and it sounds like it changed a lot over time (all that looting meant that things were always getting updated with new marble this and new columns that, add a frieze, and voila! We’re good ’til the next century…)
Closer up picture of one of the doorways at the basilica… That is all mosaic! Another cool thing (in a creepy sort of way) is that they are supposed to have the body of St. Mark in this church… which they also stole, from the Egyptians. I understand that the Egyptians still have his head, though.
The “good” gondolier!