Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tastes of Venice

Have you ever eaten ice cream and burst into spontaneous poetic praise? We’ve all been there.

This big ol’ cone for just one euro?!?!
It’s yummy too—of this I’m sure-o!!!

Wife licks once, now twice of her purchased cream
It’s the small things which make her Venetian dream.

Ode to pizza…

Our first attempt at Italian pizza ended up being a new combination for us: hot dog pizza. Strange but still so warm & happy in our tummies.

But this one...oh wow. I rarely eat pizza in the states but one look at the thick crust and fresh spinach & was definitely a good choice!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Viva Europe: more Venice

We twisted our way through parts of the city and found ourselves resting on a red bench in Plaza Campo Polo. We noticed that there aren’t many trees in Venice but this plaza had several. Out of all the architectural features we saw, my favorite were the muted colors of the buildings—peach, yellow, grey, and orange. Frequently, I saw dark green shutters over the windows. We walked past a storefront with a sign in front boasting “World’s Most Beautiful Bookstore.” Despite the potential tourist trap, I heeded the sign’s advice and stepped inside. There the elderly storeowner gave me a kind smile and pointed me toward a backroom. “Tell me if the water is inside yet,” he said softly in broken English. Now quite curious, I followed his pointing finger, snaking my way through several gondolas containing book displays. This back room looked much different from the front. Instead of shelved books from floor to ceiling, there were only piles stacked on top of tables, buckets, or other odds & ends.

Then I realized what the shopkeeper had meant: there was an open wall directly to the canal. Three steps led down to the water, the last of which was entirely submerged. I called Kevin over to see: all this knowledge, history, and literature so precariously stored! He too enjoyed the sigh, and as we left, he made sure to let the kind, old man know that the canal was yet still at bay, leaving the books dry & safe.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Venice: Deep Thoughts from a Sinking City

We arrived in Venice at the end of September. As you know, Venice is an island so our campsite was actually on the main land. Venice was everything I expected to be and more: lazy canals, striped-shirted gondoliers, ancient charm. We had been warned that the canals might be stinky but the cool fall weather prevented that. Rather than stinky canals, we enjoyed the smell of leather coming from the fancy shops and the blend of basil and tomatoes from the trattorias. We took a water bus down the Grand Canal and listened to Rick Steve’s audio tour (gotta love that man!) With the swarms of tourists, it was hard to imagine what the city was like in its prime. The city enforces strict laws in order to maintain Venice’s ancient charm but modernity cannot help but to overshadow this place that was once the hub of trade.

My overall impression of this city is that it is enchanting. Our favorite thing to do was to just get lost in the weave of waterways & alleys. If we wandered far enough, we could find ourselves all alone with not a tourist in sight.

Despite all the beauty and grandeur, our second impression was that Venice is sinking! The chorus of this song kept running through our head as we took it all in:

If Venice is sinking, how can we believe we’ll all be fine
If Venice is sinking, how can we believe we all stay dry
‘Cause I have been thinking, this water’s not worth drinking
so if Venice is sinking, then trouble’s on the rise.

Venice has survived for centuries and there are continual efforts to keep it afloat, but the reality is that all the glimmers is sure to fade (or even submerge) in this city. Let us look at our own lives through the same perspective. Do we build our hope and beauty on things that will not last past this life? Let us not be rich toward the world in beauty and grandeur yet poor toward God.