Friday, our last full day in Venice, we made it over to Murano, the glass-blowing island. We took a walk through the small museum, which was included on our museum pass and at least got us out of the cold (the temperature had by then dropped again) and then set off to find us some glass.

Glass we found, in excess. We had hoped to see some actual blowing of big pieces, but apparently those shops are not open to the tourists. (I have a feeling that they’re open to the tourists who shell out money to the guys hustling trips to Murano on the docks near San Marco, but they also practically force you into buying their glass, so we weren’t inclined.) We did get to watch a couple of the small hand-blowers doing their thing, which kept Gabe fascinated while I perused the jewelry.

We made a few purchases, but pretty soon realized that every single store was unique, and there were hundreds of them. Once you realize this, the sheer effort of looking at all that beautiful, expensive, tempting glass become extremely daunting. Literally, we were overwhelmed by beauty, and eventually were just walking by the stores, pointing and going, “Ooh look at that!”

In this manner, we made our way back to the vaporetto stop, via a lunch to go from a small café nearby. This was consumed while sitting on the chilly dock waiting for the boat, watched avidly by hungry tourists and fat pigeons alike. The reason for our haste was that we wanted to make it back to San Marco in time to devote a couple hours to the city museum there, which since we were both curious about the history of this strange, improbable city, seemed like it could take up quite a chunk of this cold and blustery (but no longer actively raining, thank God) afternoon.

From there on out, our plans kind of went awry. The city museum was adequate but disappointing, in that it did display some interesting artifacts from Venice’s history, but didn’t talk much about the actual timeline of the city, its founding and might, its decline and the current day.

So we were disappointed on that front, and even more so when we returned home for a quick snack and saw how late in the day it had gotten. Gabe had hoped to make it back to a store we’d seen in the Jewish ghetto the day before that sold beautiful glass hannukiah, but realized at this point that it was Friday and any store run by an observant Jew would be shutting well before sunset on the Sabbath. So we left again after having a quick cup of tea to warm up, and caught the vaporetto back up to where we’d gone the morning before. Really, riding that boat never gets old, or boring. It’s such a wonderful way to travel.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t even find the store that we’d seen the day before, so it must not only have already been closed for the Sabbath, but also shuttered and locked up. We did however get to see all the religious Jews from all over the city hurrying on their respective ways to get to the synagogue or to Shabbat dinner, which they were holding at Bam Bam, the small kosher restaurant at the edge of the former ghetto. It was fun to see the community gathering in a way that was both familiar and yet very very different.

Our mission foiled, we turned to the next. We also wanted to go back to the mask store that we’d visited on our first day, so we headed back down in that direction. Along the way, our secondary mission was to see if we could find me a purse, since there were a million stores (all run by Chinese people) selling beautiful Italian leather purses for fairly reasonable prices. However, we took so long looking at purses (and not buying anything), that once we finally found the mask store, it had been shut for twenty minutes. Doh!

So we had nothing we’d set out to buy, not a hannukiah nor a purse nor a mask. How disappointing. But it is typical of us and our traveling style that this loosely formed mission led to all kinds of secondary adventures, which by far outstrip the satisfaction of having a Venetian mask on our wall. As Gabe says, travel is more about the experiences for us rather than the souvenirs.

By this time though, I was thoroughly and utterly exhausted, having not been home for more than twenty minutes all day. It was our last night in Venice though, and I didn’t want to miss out on a minute of it. So we decided to use our tried and true revitalization technique: stop to replenish calories. There was a small café just by the Rialto bridge that I’d noticed every time we’d gone by on the boat, and I suggested we go there.

It turned out to be lovely, with wine poured generously from small carafes, and a sweet Moroccan waiter who chatted with us during the late afternoon/early evening lull in customers and suggested some good restaurants nearby. He was definitely the authority, as he had worked at most of them! As Gabe talked to him, he turned around and told the owner, “This guy speaks Italian, French, and Portuguese – and he’s American!” That’s us, proudly dispelling stereotypes everywhere we go. As our family friend said the night before, Gabe is a very handy guy to have around.

We investigated our waiter’s restaurant suggestions, and eventually settled on a very touristy but reasonably priced one just by the water, which had a heated outdoor patio overlooking the Rialto bridge. Yes it was touristy, but it was our last meal in Venice, so why not? It turned out to be a great meal, very simple but delicious, with hilarious waiters that divided their time equally between sweet-talking the customers and soliciting business as people walked by. It was hardly the genuine Italian experience we’d had the two nights previous, but vastly entertaining and enjoyable nonetheless.

We walked home, with a few more last-ditch attempts to find me a purse, and packed up our stuff to leave the next morning.

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more about “Venice: Day 4“, posted with vodpod

 

 

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