I. Venice (Isola Murano and Isola di San Michele)


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April 3rd 2010
Published: April 25th 2010
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Saturday, April 3

We had a leisurely morning, and went strolling around some more. I noticed that there were tables in the streets and wondered if there was going to be some kind of party. We eventually decided to visit Murano--an island famous for its glass-blown creations. So we went back towards the train station and bought a 48 hr. water bus pass for 28 euro. In Venice, the public transportation system is the water bus for three reasons: 1) the streets are too narrow and convoluted for buses, 2) the best way to get anywhere is by water!, and 3) it's more fun this way. The water bus system is like any other bus system; there are stops and certain lines that you take to get from here to there. They run all night, too.

So, we hopped on the #2 boat to get to San Marco's square, where we caught another boat to go to Murano. It was about a 1.5 hour ride in total, but it was very pleasant. The sun was shinning, and I stood along the rails of the boat, watching the floating buildings go by.

Murano is a lovely little
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view from the water bus
island that resembles the Venetian mainland, except that it's smaller. We found a cafeteria to eat at (because everything else was very expensive) and I had gnocchi and red wine. We then spent a lot of time going through the glass shops and admiring the creations ( we even bought some!) We continued to stroll around and had some gelato (or gelati in italian). Cyntia had taken a year of Italian, and so I was relying on her (though she hated it, hehe) to be our official speaker. I also learned some things, like how to count to 10, say please, thank you, etc. But it was too much fun to have her order for us!

After some time, I suggested that we take another boat to Isola di San Michele, the cemetery island of Venice. The island has a wall that runs around it that comes all the way to the water, and there are steps that go into the water for when the funeral gondolas bring the bodies. A chapel was built on the island in the 15th century, but in wasn't until 1807 that it became a cemetery island, when (due to the soggy nature of
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water bus
Venetian soil) the burial of bodies on the mainland was deemed unsanitary. Fun fact! People are still buried there today, but due to the lack of space, after a few years their bodies are exhumed and placed in stone boxes on a different part of the island.

This was one of my favorite places to visit by far! It's incredibly quiet, and on each grave stone there is a picture of the person buried there, and there are flowers planted everywhere by loved ones, creating a rather cheerful atmosphere. Cyntia and I walked around the whole island, seeing tombs and mausoleums from the 19th century. The most striking thing to me was the abandoned tombs. The tombs are a long tine of little stone chambers, with a glass door as an entrance that is locked. But some of them were deserted and the glass of the doors had been broken (by time or vandals). I could peek inside and see the sarcophagi of the deceased, along with dried flowers in vases that must have been over a century old, and wooden furniture that was covered in dust and decay. They had the air of time capsules, preserving a forgotten
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Murano
moment. I could almost imagine the funeral procession to lay one of the bodies there. The women with their wide hooped skirts, black Venetian lace veils shrouding their hair. The men with their dark suits, coat tails, and mustaches, removing their tall hats for the service.

It made me think: I wonder why no one comes here anymore to take care of this tomb? Maybe everyone they ever knew is now dead. Maybe there is no one who remembers them.

Pierre-Jean told me that his father (who is a doctor) has told him this everyday since he can remember:

"On va tous mourir un jour." (We all have to die someday.)

................................................

After strolling around some more through the flowery fields with large cypress trees and birds merrily chirping , I was sad to go, but we had to take the boat.

Back in town we stopped for a delicious cappuccino. Then we headed to the hostel, where we paid 3 euro for a pretty good dinner. We chatted with the other guests there as we ate, and it was a great atmosphere. Matt the Hostel Guy suggested we all go out, so we did! He took us to this bar that he'd heard off and we had spritzs for 1,50 euro. There was this guy David whom I'd met the day before, and today it was his 21st birthday. He's had A LOT to drink already and was clearly very drunk. We sat at a table outside with our drinks, but then the waiter came over and said that the tables were only for people being served by him, and that the price we paid for the drinks was a standing price. It made sense because it's often like that in Europe. However, David was grumpy and said, "He can go die." Unfortunately the waiter heard him and said that no, he would not go die, and that if our friend had a problem he could leave. I tried to apologize to the waiter, saying that our 'friend' was really drunk. The waiter didn't care. Too much drama! I don't like drama, and I was ready to go back to the hostel, so we headed back.

On the way back Cyntia told me what the table in the streets were for. Apparently, it floods so often in Venice, that they have
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an example of the glass work, but somehow the picture doesn't do it justice!
these tables placed in the streets so that when the water rises, people can walk on them! It didn't flood while we were there, but I figure that Venetians must really love their city if they're willing to deal with flooding in their homes and business all the time.



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back on the boat
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Isola di San Michele
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one of many lovely family chapels
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the island from the boat


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