Caio Venice! Hi Verona!

Oct 06

Caio Venice! Hi Verona!

Yesterday we met Giancarlo, the mask maker, back at his shop to follow him to the post office to mail our mask. We also brought other souvenirs with us to mail home when we met Giancarlo, and he was so generous to find us boxes in his shop and use his packaging supplies to help us pack our other “to mail” items. During the process, he filled us in on some disturbing facts about Venice and the mafia. He told us that local italians never pays for the tickets to take the water buses around Venice because they are 7 euro for one hour of travel, an astronomical price when you consider that to use the subway in Paris, France, it’s 1 euro per ticket destination. He explained that this huge hike in prices is due to the mafia controlling the transportation in Venice. He also said the gondolas are mandated by the government to be 80 euro for 40 minutes, but because the gondoliers are in the mafai’s pocket, they charge tourists anywhere from 80 euro to 140 euro for sometimes less than half an hour! We couldn’t believe it. After Giancarlo took us to the post office and helped us mail all of our purchases, we treated him to some cappuccinos and said goodbye.

We walked back to our hotel, packed up, and took the water bus back to the train station, passing under the Rialto Bridge on our way. We didn’t bother actually walking on the bridge because the Ponte Vecchio is way cooler. Our train ride was 2 hours to Verona and pretty relaxing.

When we reached Verona, we caught a bus from the train station to a different train station closer to where our room was that we were renting on Our host picked us up from the bus stop and dropped us off at the small flat. It was very nice and clean if a bit small. We hung out in the flat, then walked 10 minutes from the flat into the city center to find some dinner. Feeling nice and full after, we followed the crowds to a famous square in Verona called the Piazza dei Signori. We wandered among the shops still open and passed by the statue of Dante. Next, we found an alley way that looked like a very sad attempt at Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo. The alley way was chock full of graffiti and led us to the famous Romeo and Juliet balcony!

The balcony was very pretty, connected to the House of Juliet and set in a small courtyard with a bronze statue of Juliet. Apparently, if you touch Juliet’s right breast, you will receive a new lover. There was quite a queue of young men waiting for their turn to touch the statue’s boob. Go figure. According to the English panel below the balcony, the building once belonged to a very promenant and wealthy Italian family called Cappello (This family is believed to be Shakespeare’s Capulet). There is also apparently a “tomb” of Juliet below the building.

We left the poor statue and headed back over the river to our flat, purchasing some groceries along the way. When we arrived back, we noticed a very strong rotten egg smell in the apartment that reminded me very strongly of propane or natural gas. Ryder couldn’t smell it very well because his sniffer is broken, but we contacted the owner who said he would look at it in the morning. We couldn’t leave the windows open because we were directly above a major (and loud) street. With the windows closed, we both started feeling sick, dizzy, and experienced headaches. Eek! Ryder tried turning off the gas valves, but the feelings and smell persisted. Finally we called airbnb and told them the situtation, and called the owner to get him to come over to fix it. Well he finally showed up at around 11pm and explained that some electrical things were done two days ago and must have stopped the heater from turning on properly. He apparently “fixed” it, but we still didn’t feel comfortable at all sleeping somewhere with gas problems. We told him we’d rather leave and he showed us the door.

Now its 11pm and we walk back toward the bus stop only to discover that the busses are no longer running this late. The owner of the flat meets us farther down the street and tells us his wife wants us to stay at their house in their extra room. She was mad at him for just kicking us out onto the street so late. We graciously declined the offer, deciding to try to catch a night train to Rome instead. We finally managed to hail a cab and were taken back to the train station. On the way, I caught quite a few glimpses of street walkers about their business. Talk about the city of love. Once at the station, we tried to reserve tickets for a night train, but couldn’t manage to get any sleeper beds within the same compartment. So, we instead booked a night at a hotel near the train station, caught another taxi, and finally got into bed at 1am. Phew, what an experience.

Today, we are going to take the train (5 hours) to a small hotel located within the Cinque Terre national park. Unfortunately, there is no internet available at this hotel so we will not be posting updates until we reach a new destination on Monday (probably Rome), so expect lots of photos and stories on Monday (unless we can find an internet cafe). Until then, caio!

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