Monday, October 27, 2008

October 1-2, 2008

Caltrain->BART->SFO->JFK->MXP->Milan train station->Venice

What would get you out of bed at 3am? For me, Wednesday, the alarm at 3, out of the shower, dressed, packed, and out the door at 4am, and the sky was beautiful and the stars were *really* clear. And we thought "wouldn't it be funny to stomp around on our neighbors' roofs and stand in front of their windows laughing loudly to the same jokes over and over?" (which is what they do at all hours when we are trying to sleep) Then we saw that the neighbors were in fact, still awake and watching TV next door with the door wide open. Damn.

Then Caltrain -> SFO -> BART -> SFO -> JFK. All pretty uneventful. I like, when I fly overseas, to take Tylenol PM or something like it and sleep through the entire flight. But always wait until the flight actually takes off, because you never know how long they might keep you on the tarmac after leaving the gate. In this case it was about 1 1/2 hours, first because there were too many planes in line, then because while we waited the weather turned bad and we had to wait for it to pass, and then? Then because during that weather, one of the computers they use to direct traffic wen out, so they were sharing a single runway for all departures and arrivals (arrivals have priority) What. Ever. Once in the air, I slept like a log. Or a corpse, as Paul described it.

Either way, I woke up somewhere over, like, France. We then passed over the Alps, which were stunning, and descended over the red rooftops of Italy.
The view of the Alps from the airplane

Arrival was easy enough, and since Paul had the good sense to figure out in advance that we needed to be at a different train station, we took a bus to Milan's central station which is over an hour away. There we encountered our first food disaster in the form of a prepackaged sandwich, disgusting beyond our wildest dreams.

Worst. Sandwich. Ever.

The train ride to Venice was terrible, being seated in a compartment with a stinky man and a woman who alternated between sitting and flipping through her cellphone's library of christian rock and pop at full volume, and getting up and climbing over everyone to get in and out every five minutes. And it took for-ever. Finally we arrived at Santa Lucia Station in Venice and jetted out to get lost without a real map of Venice. We finally did stumble on our place but no one was there, so we ended up at an outdoor cafe for an Italian classic: really atrocious pizza and cheap wine. I wasn't at all surprised by this, having already established that Italians do not know anything about good pizza. (I'm a Chicago-style girl myself) The best thing about this cafe was the number and aggressiveness of the pigeons, who are accustomed in Venice to joining you at your table if you let them. As one family was in the process of leaving, they were swarmed such that the mother had to grab one last slice of pizza from the only non-pigeonated pizza as she made her hasty retreat. The pigeons then swarmed the table, knocking off a napkin holder and sending glass to the ground to shatter. Waitstaff appeared unfazed. In addition to the aggressive pigeons, there were also some very cute house finches and especially scream-y gulls. Also, lots of dogs some on leashes, many just wandering the streets (watch where you step) And so far, two not-very-friendly window cats.

After we checked into our hotel, we spent the evening wandering around and exploring the city.

Me in the neighborhood near our hotel.

Paul by the Grand Canal.

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