Thursday, May 21, 2015

Venice log 2 - Walking

Once again I awoke far too early this morning, so I quickly got dressed (my clothes and shoes had dried overnight) then went out to film the waterfront of Giudecca. There weren't many people about at this time which made my job easier. The island is very narrow, at least where we are staying; one can walk from one side to the other in about three minutes.

After having a leisurely breakfast in our luxury apartment, we set off for the main island. From our local vaporetto stop, we took the number 2 bus to San Marco then joined the thousands wandering around the plaza. From there, we walked slowly through the alleyways until we came to the Rialto bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge today doesn't look like the picture on the left, which was taken in 2011. The left hand side is being renovated, so the facade is covered with a huge picture of what the bridge should look like. 

We came from the right hand side of the picture, crossed the bridge then wandered around on the left hand side. The canal side is packed with restaurants, all of which are probably serving the same food at the same price (I joked that there is one huge central kitchen which cooks for them all). That price is fairly expensive - and Lemon Soda costs 4.50 euro here as opposed to 3.00 in Florence and Monterosso - and they charge 12% service as opposed to 10% elsewhere in Italy.

After lunch, we went back over the bridge to the vaporetti stop which is on the right hand side; there I intended to take the number 2 bus (yet again) to the Accademia stop. Not being too familiar with the buses and which stop goes where, we ended up going the wrong way, back to the train station. It should be said that at least we had not seen this section of the grand canal before. Once at the train station, we got off then found the correct stop for the number 2 going the other way; unfortunately, the first vaporetto only took us back to Rialto. Here we got off (no choice in the matter) and found the correct stop for Accademia. Eventually we got to where we wanted to go.

Why Accademia? Because this is the closest stop to the Guggenheim Collection. Whilst some of the paintings on display were excellent (Picasso, Magritte, Ernst, Kandinsky, Braque, Chagall, Klee), there were also some which were dire and could have been done by school children. I was dismayed to discover that there was only one painting each by the above (as Max Ernst was Guggenheim's husband, there were a few of his and maybe two by Picasso), but that there was a special exhibition of paintings by Charles Pollock which explain why modern art often has a bad name. 

There were also more than a few paintings by his younger and more famous brother, Jackson Pollock. I am reminded of the scene in Woody Allen's "Play it again, Sam", where early on in the film, Allen goes to an art museum to pick up girls. He sees one who is staring at a JP and says "That's a nice Jackson Pollock. What does it say to you?". The girl answers in a monotone voice that it speaks of nihilism and the end of the world. Allen then asks what she is doing on Saturday night; "committing suicide" is the answer. Allen then asks what she's doing on Friday night; the girl looks at him then gets up and walks away.

Items in the museum shop were very expensive so we didn't buy anything.

After the museum, I saw that instead of returning to the Accademia stop and having a long ride back to Giudecca, we could walk slightly more to the Zattere stop which is on the 'outer' side of Dorsoduro and directly across the channel from Guidecca. Forewarned, I found the correct stop; when the vaporetto came, it cut immediately across the water to the Palanca stop, then continued for a few minutes to our stop, Redentore.

We went into the supermarket to buy a few more items: a big mistake as when we came out, the weather had changed. After being cool but dry all day, there was a sudden thunderstorm and the rain was bucketing down. Even though we had umbrellas, we still got very wet on the short walk back from the shop to the flat. My poor new Florentine shoes: they got soaked yesterday (twice), dried out overnight, then got soaked again today.

Of course, after we finished eating the hot minestrone which I purchased in the supermarket, the rain stopped and the sun came out again. Somehow I doubt that we will follow my tentative plan of going across to San Marco again this evening.

My balance problems have come to haunt me: I am sitting at a table and writing this, but inside I feel as if I am swaying from side to side, up and down, as if I am still on a boat. The currents in the grand canal are probably very weak, but they are strong on the Giudecca canal.

At the moment I am reading "Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi" by Geoff Dyer; I think that I originally found this book because Dyer mentioned Van der Graaf Generator in one of his books. This book is divided into two: "Jeff in Venice" tells the tale of a hack writer who spends a hedonistic weekend in Venice. Reading it this morning, I saw that Jeff goes to a party on Giudecca, probably not far from where we are staying. I didn't get very far with the second half of the book; maybe this time will be easier. Anyway, however much I follow in Jeff's footsteps, I won't be adopting his regime of too much drink, sex and drugs.

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