Madison – Istanbul – Venice

The fact that we are in Venice is amazing to me.  I’ve always wanted to come to Italy – to any part of it – and now we’re here.  We came on Turkish Air  via Istanbul with a 12 hour layover at a Hilton Hotel.  Planning is a good thing but you know that saying, “you plan – god laughs”?  We’ll she was laughing Tuesday night.


Turkish Shoeshine Stand

I’d picked the hotel because of the shuttle service and its imagined proximity to the airport.  We missed the shuttle by a few minutes and there wasn’t going to be another one for 3.5 hours.  An airport employee directed us and a young woman staying at the same hotel to a taxi service.  That’s when I remembered I hadn’t gotten any Turkish lira because of the shuttle service. Hmmmm.  Katrine, from Homburg, Germany, in Istanbul for a two day seminar paid the taxi fare and refused any kind of repayment saying it was business anyway and we’d kept her from feeling lonely on the ride to the hotel.

While not sleeping is way over rated – indoor hotel pools with blue tile bottoms, saunas, bath towels actually large enough to let you feel modest, and a shoe shine stand in the lobby like this one, are not.  We had two security points to go through in the morning.  At the first one a 24 year old Turkish guy told us about his doctor brother in Los Angeles, his problems getting a visa to go visit him and how Turkish women my age are – well, the way he put it was gestural but you know what I mean.   At the next check point they confiscated my Aldi circular knitting needles (3 pairs!!!) because of the danger to air safety but I swear I saw the guard knitting a baby sweater in the employee snack bar not 30 minutes later.

Water Taxi

Water Taxi

The Aliguna to F. te Nove was a treat – though once off I had no idea which way to go.  We wound up hauling two suitcases – one with a wonky wheel and two carry ons about three blocks past where we needed to go only to collapse at a trattorria.  After the first glass of wine we asked for help.  After the salad and second glass of wine we got directions and found our way easily though not without much panting, hauling and wobbling to our place.

The little apartment is in a building about 50 meters from the canal.  We are on the first floor which is actually one flight of stairs up – and the stairs are worn, chipped, trod by thousands of people before us – from a century unknown but ancient by any standard.  The walls are 24″ thick, the windows casement and everything has the slightly mildewy smell of damp.  But it’s still perfect.


The Rialto

This morning we walked to The Rialto for breakfast.  I had hot chocolate, not quite as good as in Moscow but the atmosphere is sweeter here.  We sat for an hour in the sun and watched gondolas, people, and dogs.  City dogs.  Sophisticated dogs with vests and cravats.  Very sweet.



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