Due Settimana in Italia
An Apolitical Travelogue
by Eric S. Piotrowski
Day Seven: American Cultural Blowback
Although Venice was revitalizing my spirits and eradicating my chestal congestion, we took another day off from sightseeing in order to recuperate fully. After rising late, we went to the internet shop around the corner from our hotel to check email and Twitter. (If you don't know, Twitter is a bare-bones mini-blogging / stay-in-touch-with-friends site.)
As you can see in the picture, the internet shop uses an @ for its logo. I hadn't realized how ubiquitous that logo had become, nor how intertwined with online communication. Still, it makes sense.
Once we were done being online, we went to a cafe and drank coffee and hung out and read. We wound up eating lunch in the same spot, rotating slightly around the table as the sun pried through the canopy and shade of the buildings.
A group of Swedes sat at the table next to us. We didn't understand most of what they said, until Diane caught "anal probe" in English. After spitting out a mouthful of sandwich while laughing uncontrollably, she told me what I'd missed. They noticed us laughing and smiled.
"South Park," they explained. "We know America."
I nodded. "And The Simpsons?"
They nodded. "And Ricki Lake and Jackass." It's good to know the best of American culture is making its way around the planet.
We got a little lost after lunch and took an hour or so to disentangle ourselves from the alleyways. We relaxed at the hotel for a while, then went to search for a dinner spot. As we read the menu at the spot we eventually chose, the waiter stared very intently at Diane's tattoos. It was a little freaky; I had to let him know I was watching him to get him to back off.
The meal was good as usual, but the highlight was the orange juice I ordered. I don't know if perhaps I was just really thirsty or it was exceptional juice, but I had a second can and considered a third. It was just terrific.
After dinner we ate gelato and inquired at the bridge about a gondola ride. It was one hundred Euros, which just seemed outrageous. (More than $130!) When it became clear that this was out of our price range, the guy backed it down to 90. We considered for a second, and Diane heard him say something about how he'd have to make it look like he'd gotten an extra daytime ride. He offered 80, at which point the Jew in me tried to get him down to 70. He said it was impossible and started in about how The Company would never allow it, at which point we thanked him and walked off.
It's really sad to see such an integral part of the Venetian experience made so expensive and restrictive. (We found out later that we were in fact getting a deal subsequent prices we had quoted exceeded 200 Euros.) My Venice book has a big section about gondolas and how essential they are to any stay in Venice. It's too bad they've priced themselves so outrageously. From what the book suggests, everyone rode in gondolas back in the day. Now it's just the rich tourists.