Helloooo . . . .

5 09 2006

Greetings from Old Town Krakow. I’m sitting in an internet cafe right on the Market Square. But before I talk about Krakow I should back up and share our Venice experience. I’m paying for minutes, so bear with any typos. Here are some excerpts from my paper journal:

August 31, 2006. Venice, Italy. We’re here! And I’m happy. And sleepy. And my feet are sore. But we’re actually in Venice, and it’s beautiful.

We arrived in London at 10:05 AM–only five minutes off schedule. The AA ticket counter in Dallas checked our bags through to Venice, even though the flights were booked separately and on different airlines. Wow, I thought. How convenient is that? It was great as far as security went. We stumbled off the plane this morning at Gatwick (after trying but failing to get much sleep), our attitudes great and our enthusiasm growing. We breezed through a “friendly” body search (that woman knows me pretty well now) and had 2 hours to chill in the lounge. After preparing ourselves for major head-aches, it was a non-event.

Our flight to Venice took off 30 minutes late but received a primo flight path and acommodating tail wind. We landed ahead of schedule. We waited at the carousel for our luggage–chatting about how smoothly things had gone and how excited we were to officially launch our three-week European adventure. After a considerable wait we saw my suitcase come through. Whew! We’d begun to worry. Then George’s poster showed up. Then . . . nothing. When the luggage well dried up George asked an attendant. All the bags had come through. George’s backpack was lost.

All his clothes and toiletries (including our only tube of toothpaste), our camera charger (but thankfully not our camera) missing. He has one outfit, his briefcase, and his posters for ISEE8.

The good news is we followed air-travel advice and placed copies of our full itinerary in our checked bags. Whoever has that bag knows exactly where its owner is. We also filed a lost luggage report. I’m praying it shows up at our hotel tomorrow.

I have to brag on George’s attitude. He hasn’t been upset at all. I would be a wreck if I didn’t have my clothes and toiletries, but he’s just laughing about it. I told him if his bag doesn’t show up tomorrow, we’re buying him some hip Italian clothes.

It’s 9:00 PM and we’re about to go to sleep, but first I’ll write a few impressions from our evening. Our hotel is run by a humorous older guy, Roberto. He speaks English well, so that’s nice. When we told him about George’s bag he tried to call British Airways to check on it. He had the phone on speaker, and it alternated between a recorded message and the music to “Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder, Here I am in Camp Grenada.” (I’m sure that’s actually a famous melody of some sort, but I couldn’t help singing the words in my head.) After the same recorded message repeated several times, in his lilting Italian-flavored English Roberto said, “So! We listen to ‘Welcome to British Airways’ and we dance. Never mind.”

After unpacking my bag we took off to search for dinner and toothpaste. It was already going on 8:00 PM so we opted for splitting a thick slice of pizza from one of the many vendors scattered through the narrow passageways that wind all over Venice. We took our slice (and George’s bottle of Strong Ale) to the Grand Canal and sat on the ledge. Then we went to a gelato stand. He got a single scoop caffe and I got cioccolato. We wound our way through many streets in search of a pharmacy, but when we finally found one, it was already closed. No toothpaste until tomorrow. 😦

One last thought. As we rode the vaporetto (water bus) from Piazalle Roma (the bus stop) to Rialto, my first glimpse of the Palaces of Venice produced mixed feelings. First, I simply soaked in the magnificent architecture and the history it represents. But then I noticed how the slow boat full of people creeping along the blue-green canal reminded me of rides at Six Flags. When the real thing reminds you of the cheap imitation, that’s a bit depressing.

Okay, I’m fading fast, but I can’t end day one in Venice on a depressing note. Tomorrow is a whole new, full day, and we can’t wait to lose ourselves in the magic of this city. San Marco Plaza and countless wonders tucked away on canal or between ancient buildings. For now I must sleep. George insisted on leaving our top-floor windows open to Mediterranean breezes. Add to their gentle touch the loud singing and party sounds on the streets, and we’ll see how long he lasts. As for me, I’ve got ear plugs.

Ciao. For now.

(Thus ends day one in my journal. To be continued . . .)



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