Italy map:
Feb 19, 2001

These older journal entries were hastily typed in at local cybercafes where I was paying by the minute.  Please excuse grammar mistakes or typos. 

Week #2
I realized a while ago that I have become jaded.  Beautiful cities, fantastic beaches I've seen them before.  I come to Milan, it has the 3rd biggest church in the world, that's okay I've already seen the biggest two.  Museums, Roman ruins, they're all the same after you've seen a few.  Knowing that you are jaded makes it all the more wonderful when something actually impresses you. 

I've been impressed twice in the last 2 months - that makes a total of twice in the last few years.  First of all Cirque de Soleil "O" was absolutely amazing.  However, I'm not writing about that here.  Venice was amazing.  An incredibly beautiful city.  It was also incredibly full of tourists, but that didn't detract from the beauty too much. 

I'll come back to Venice later.  Monday morning I head off to the police station with coworkers and Joanne, a legal aide from our law firm to get Italian residence permits.  In the police station we meet our first Milanese models.  They're from Lithuania, very young, very thin and are practicing their walks in the police station.  They barely speak English and don't seem to speak any Italian so our legal aide also helps them with their permits. 

Wednesday was Valentines day.  I head out for dinner and drinks with Joanne, our legal aide.  We suitably drink too much and head home around 1 in the morning.  One is very early to be heading to bed, but I have to get to work early in Italy - a fact that I'm still trying to get used to. 

Thursday I'm terribly amused with the Italian answer to dealing with parking shortages.  Cars double park all over the place, however they do not pull their parking brake.  If there is a double parked car blocking your spot you simply push it out of the way.  It was great fun. 

Friday the nightlife seems to be picking up in the city, but I go to sleep early to catch the train for Venice.  We leave at 7 in the morning from Milan and arrive in Venice at 10am.  As I said before, it is incredibly beautiful.  I wander around with my coworkers for a while and wander around alone for a while.  Generally spending the day just walking around and hanging out.  After dinner with my coworkers we all head out in search of the party. 

We find a couple of hundred Italians drinking and listening to music in one of the squares.  They are playing Reggae on one side of the square and there is a drum circle on the other side.  It isn't a great party, but it isn't bad.  Laguvalin is relatively cheap in Italian and I start with a couple of glasses.  Before midnight my coworkers tell me that they are heading off.  I think that they're looking for a better party.  I'm shocked when the tell me "No, we're heading home".  I leave them and head back to the party. 

Very shortly I introduce myself to a cute young American.  She's in Venice with a group of fellow Americans who have come up from a city near Florence where they are studying.  They were supposed to leave in the afternoon but their train was cancelled due to the train strike.  They are now trapped in Venice without a hotel.  They're planning on simply partying all night and heading home the following day when the 24 hour strike was scheduled to end.  I meet some of her friends, and some of the Italian men who are surrounding her and her friends.  I meet some other Italian girls and a Portuguese girl and generally have a good fun time.  At 3am the party is quieting down.  I decide that it is time to head home. 

We're staying on a nearby Island and I have to catch the ferry that only runs once an hour.  After a 10 minute walk I get to the ferry stop.  As I round the corner, I see the boat heading towards the dock.  I run and just barely make it.  Two stops later I think to ask if I'm on the right boat.  No one nearby speaks English and they don't seem to respond to my Italian "The (point at boat) to Lido".  A few stops later I find out that the Captain does speak English.  He tells me that I am indeed on the right boat, however in the wrong direction.  Lido is our last stop we'll be there in an hour. 

It takes less than an hour, but not by much.  I arrive in Lido exhausted, still a bit drunk and cold.  It has turned into a frigidly cold night.  I cannot remember the name of my hotel, but I sort of remember where to find it.  However, after walking in the cold for a few minutes I realize that it is a very long walk.  I pass by some bicycles.  They are old, beat up and unlocked.  I somehow manage to convince myself that if a bike is old, beat up, unlocked and left overnight on the main street someone intends for you to borrow it.  Santa Cruz at one time had loaner bikes, perhaps Lido does to.  I hop on a bike and take off riding down the street.  At the first turn I find out that it doesn't have any brakes.  Riding around on a small island in the middle of the night on a bike with no brakes is a lot of fun.  I do get a little lost, but find my hotel and arrive at 4 in the morning.  I leave the bike parked in front of the hotel.  If it was not intended to be borrowed, it is a small island and will hopefully get back to it's rightful owner. 

I spend the next day shopping for masks and painting.  At 7pm my coworkers and I start heading back to catch our train.  At one point we make a wrong turn and follow a street that dead-ends into the grand canal.  It was funny because there are no less than 40 people who also walked into the dead-end - following us assuming that we knew where we were going.  It was very sit-com and would only have been funnier if they kept walking and had pushed us into the water. 

It is the 1st day of Carnival and as we walk to the train station there are lots of people in costume are heading the other direction.  As fireworks start going off it pains me to be leaving what might be a great party.  It was very contrary to the way that I try to live my life.  With 10 minutes before the train leave I decide that if I'm missing the party I'm at least going to get drunk on the train.  I rush back into the train station looking for a bottle of booze.  With 5 minutes left I discover that the place that sells blended fruit drinks also sells bottles of scotch.  Unfortunately, there is a Japanese lady in front of me taking forever to try in decide what she wants.  I beg the woman behind the counter in broken Italian "4 minutes for train, Laguvalin please".  She tells me that I have to wait my turn, but then a minute later goes and gets my bottle.  A make it back to the train with minutes to spare. 

As the train leaves we are heading over a bridge with the fireworks exploding next to us.  The fireworks with the reflection off the water is beautiful.  We hear some women in the next compartment also cheering over the fireworks.  I go over and offer them some scotch.  They're a bit older than me, from the East Coast and already a bit drunk.  They're on vacation and have been drinking for the past 10 days.  My kind of people.  I have a good time hanging out with them, sharing stories of my travels and just generally drinking and talking for the 3 hours until we get into Milan.  We drink all of the beer that the snacks vendor was selling and make a good dent in the scotch.  They don't have a place to stay and are flying back in the morning so I invite them to stay at my apartment.  We head back and make more of a dent in the scotch.  The end up sleeping in my bed as I sleep on the couch. 

A good fun weekend leaving me exhausted, but almost ready to head back into the office Monday morning. 

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