When I was a young lad, my parents sent me abroad. Unfortunately, I had to return her. (Groucho Marx) Thus we have the theme of today’s (semi) humorous blog. Due to popular demand, (i.e., my mother and mailman) I have decided to share my recent travel adventures in episodic fashion. (A series of loosely connected installments.) Most of these tales will be truthful. Mainly. Please keep in mind that I do write some fiction, so you might encounter a word or two of inadvertent exaggeration or hyperbole.
Chapter One of my saga is titled, “A SINKING FEELING.” (Fortunately, this has nothing to do with our ship.) My recent book tour/tax deductible vacation began in the water-logged city of Venice, Italy. As you might know, the city is slowly sinking into the Adriatic Sea. (“Slowly” being the key word) How slowly? About .04 to .08 inches per year. Why? Some blame climate change and rising water levels. Personally, I think it’s due to the over-consumption of pasta and wine. Both have been known to weigh folks down. Just saying.
In any case, the city of Venice will sink about 3 inches in the next 20 years, so if you pack quickly, you still have plenty of time for a visit. However, DO NOT plan to sit down when you arrive. The city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, has proposed a fine of up to 500 Euros ($600) for anyone who sits or lays down in an “undesignated” spot. Hopefully, toilets will be exempt. Plan to bring your own stool, so to speak.
Speaking of Euros, they are like everything else in Italy… colorful and confusing. The Euro is denoted by a symbol from the Greek alphabet. (An “epsilon.”) The notes are printed in different colors… grey, red, blue, orange, green, yellow, and purple. (For real) So far, 30 million color blind Europeans have gone bankrupt. (My first exaggeration!)
Our travel party stayed at the luxurious Bauer Palazzo Hotel, which is located alongside the city’s Grand Canal. Due to my literary fame (and a modest bribe) I received a lovely upgrade, directly above the gondolier loading platform. Our gondola (shown in a photo last week) had a chandelier and was operated by a gondolier who wore a leather bandolier. (I was a little leery about this venture.)
The Bauer Hotel is very close to St. Mark’s Square. (Which is actually a rectangle.) The Piazza San Marco (a/k/a St. Mark’s Square) is a fascinating venue, and the best place to start a visit. Napoleon called the square “the drawing room of Europe,” and in my humble opinion, it remains a breathtakingly beautiful place. Who am I to argue with Napoleon? The man has a freakin’ dessert named after him. Anyway, if you visit Venice, you must visit the square. However, I wouldn’t advise you to wine or dine at any of the open-air cafes — unless you have a lot of those colorful bills I mentioned, and you don’t mind spending $15 for a cup of cappuccino.
To be honest, the food in Venice is not remarkable. (The prices, however, can often be memorable!) I would advise spending your hard-earned loot on a gondola ride. Those rides will cost you 85 Euros for 30 minutes, 125 Euros for 60 minutes, and 200 Euros if you want to add some music. (Please note that these rates DOUBLE in the evening.) Now you know why the “average” gondolier makes about $200,000 per year! (No joke)
So there, my friends, is Venice in a pistachio shell. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or wish to obtain a small loan. Before I say arrivederci, I’d like to thank my young friend, Connor Evans, for writing a book report based upon my last mystery novel, A RUN FOR THE MONEY. Connor brilliantly outlined the book’s conflict and resolution, and I’m sure he got an A+ for his efforts. I heartily commend him for his thorough analysis and exquisite literary tastes! (You can scroll down to see his work.)
Finally, in closing, I must also thank the beautiful and brilliant Judge Susan for delivering a box of special treats from Stein’s Bakery in Dallas. OMG, those were the best cheese pockets in the universe! I ate one the moment she left, and I’ve hidden the others in a safe place. (The box is wired with explosives, so keep your distance, Miss Patty!)
Well, dear friends, I shall conclude with a salient thought… Accordion to current studies, 90% of you are unaware that this sentence started with a musical instrument!
Love to all,