For those who are too busy, too lazy, or too intelligent to read about our minor missteps in getting to Venice, here’s a quick summary of our time in this wondrous city, expressed in numbers.
0 – number of gondola rides we took. Why? Because the image of being alone, adrift on a listless gondola, serenaded by a young stallion who is equal parts deft oarsman and accomplished tenor, is too twee to be true. Gondola rides are, in fact, far more likely to look like this (click image for larger size), and there are better ways to spend €100.
Charm and romance, or a Disney ride?
2– number of hours we walked around Venice with all our luggage before finding our hotel.
Dude, where are we?
4 – number of euros per person, per day, Venice charges in a cash-only Tourist Tax levied to non-residents, to raise money to keep Venice afloat. Literally. As water levels continue to rise, Venice correspondingly sinks to the extent that in many buildings, what was once the ground floor is now already uninhabitable, condemned, functionally a part of the foundations. A not-uncommon sight: this gondola is squeezing between such a building (on the left) and the city’s primary opera house on the right (out of the frame)– in other words, this isn’t confined to some backwater slum, but is evident even at the center of Venetian culture.
Ground floor flood damage
5 – number of minutes it takes, on average, after leaving one’s hotel, to be hopelessly, happily lost. It’s a simple process: Step 1: turn left (or right) out of hotel. Step 2: fold up map and insert into pocket. Step 3: follow the winding road through two squares and/or across two bridges, and there you have it. Completely lost in 5 minutes or less.
A dead-end on a narrow street
6 – number of districts in Venice. Mercifully, this number is not higher.
8 – AM, the time at which the repetitive opening cords of O Sole Mio first waft up from below, belted out by tip-seeking gondoliers on canals everywhere.
9 – PM, the time at which they seem to stop.
10 – PM, the time at which, if you’re lucky, the song is finally no longer stuck in your head.
11 – number of times we saw a woman snatch an ice cream-stained map from her husband and say “give it to me! I’ll find it.” (Bonus round, one of these involved this forever-memorable, New-York-accent sound byte as a guy slapped his map with the back of his hand: ” yeah, no shit it’s by the water… there’s water everywhere!”
43 – number of tourists at any given moment trying their hardest to contract H1N5 bird flu by getting cozy with pigeons in San Marco Square.
Women and children are at greatest risk
44 – number of times per day we heard the words “hey, you know how much?” coming from the mouths of knock-off handbag salesmen on the streets. Bizarrely, these have-a-go merchants of Venice would often be selling fake Prada bags right outside the Prada store, or fake Vuittons outside the Louis Vuitton store, with no repercussions.
193837 – the RGB/hexademical numeric colour value of the hypnotizing, deep teal-turquoise hue of Venetian canals in the shade of the afternoon.
Infinity – begins to describe the number of times
Kevin was more right than Megan about where we were and how to get back to the hotel we had a good laugh together, pleased with the trip so far, and excited for what’s yet to come.