Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Venezia

We haven't really done much exciting this week, so I don't have any new pictures to post.  The baby birds learned to fly today, and have not yet returned to their nasty pile of sticks and poop on my windowsill.  I wonder how long I have to wait before I can take a shovel and a fire hose to that sucker and actually let the breeze in.  We've taken Jameson and Levi on walks through Santissima the past 3 days since we're able to get out of the house.  We were going to go a little further up the mountain to this park that has a petty zoo of sorts, but it was cloudy and overcast pretty much all day, so we didn't want to chance the rain.

After our walk we needed to get gas and run some errands.  It was probably somewhere around 2-2:30 when we were leaving, so guess what?  Everything was closed.  Even the gas stations.  Most of the gas stations here are "servizio," which means the attendants pump the gas for you and take your payment and everything, just like in "the olden days."  It's quite nice unless you're name is Carrie and you're stranded on the side of the road because the attendant filled your tank with the wrong type of gas.  Oopsies!  Because we needed gas during lunchtime, we were pretty much out of luck.  We decided to just head in the direction of the baby store that sells the diaper genie refills, and hope we'd find an open gas station along the way.  One thing about Europe that is so noticeably different from the American lifestyle is the absence of the "one-stop-shop."  I worked at Target, so I became quite familiar with having every single thing you could ever need and more right there under one roof.  Furniture, clothes, deodorant, greeting cards, food, film developing, you name it, Target has it.  In Europe, everything is in specialty stores.  You do your main grocery shopping about once a month, and then go to specialty stores to buy your meet, cheese, produce, and bread.  We needed dog food so we had to go to the "pet store" to get Levi's food.  We call it "pet store" because the name is quite difficult to pronounce, but they actually didn't sell any pets.  Hiking gear, gardening goods, and pet needs is what this store specialized in.  The "baby store" that had the diaper genie refills was like a giant Babies R Us, with a very limited selection of toys.  On the way home we were going to stop at the post office (it was well after 3 by this point), but it was closed.  No rhyme or reason.  I think that's one thing that I will never understand about Italy or Italians.  There is absolutely no sense of urgency or daily need, and everyone treats the store closures like it's just another normal day.  If the post office in Oviedo closed down for even just an hour all hell would break loose!  The cops wouldn't know what to do with all the irate citizens, and all the chickens would flee the town.

Because I don't have any new pictures from this week, I'm going to continue posting pictures from Venice.  There's really no order to the pictures, just an accumulation of photos I took while we were there that are good enough to share.

I took this picture standing almost at the water looking towards Saint Mark's Square.  I know it's not awesome, but you can almost get the vastness of the area.  This is actually a view of the "Piazzetta," or "little piazza."  If you walk straight and turn to the left at the campanile, that's what is considered the actual piazza, but it's really all just the same.  Up until the mid 18th century, the Piazzetta is where all the city's executions took place.  You can see the 2 columns standing as the gateway to the city, then on the very far left you have the Biblioteca Marciana, or "the library of Saint Mark."  The library was constructed and opened to the public in the 16th century, and houses one of the greatest classical text collections in the world, including over 24,000 books printed between 1500-1600.  Right behind the library is the Campanile, or the famous bell tower of Saint Mark that was rebuilt after it collapsed in 1902.  In the very far back, to the right of the bell tower, you can see the St. Mark's clock tower.  This is the oldest digital clock in the world, and was constructed in the 15th century.  It was placed strategically in the square so that it was visible to all the incoming ships in the lagoon, showing everyone of Venice's wealth and glory.  To the right of the clock tower is the famous Saint Mark's Basilica.  There are no pictures that can depict how massive and impressive this building is.  All the enormity of it is overwhelming, but when you look closely, every single detail can be divided into tiny inch-sized pieces. The entire church is just so incredibly impressive.  The building in the right side of the picture is the Doge's palace, which was constructed in the 1300s.  This is the same building in which the columns looks out of proportion on the base level because of the sinking of Venice, or the "rising" of the ground.

You know that saying "Somedays you're the statue, and somedays you're the bird?"  Well the pigeons in Venice are a serious problem for the statues.  There are so many pigeons that they've caused damage to some of the buildings and statues in Saint Mark's square, and the city is at a loss for how to manage the situation.  For awhile it was illegal to feed the birds, but that obviously didn't last long, and now they've moved on to a new, more liberal approach to the situation.  Pigeon birth control.  This is no joke people. In order to "feed" the birds for your awesome photo op, like the one right here, you have to pay for "birdseed" which is actually a special type of food containing some sort of birth control agent.  As you can see, so far this tactic hasn't been too successful, but only time will tell.

The pictures are pretty, but you honestly have to experience the city to really understand and have an appreciation for the city of Venice.  I will have many more pictures up tomorrow.

Today my favorite thing about Italy is: Honey yogurt.  This stuff is amazing.  The kiwi yogurt is pretty spectacular as well, but I'm not so sure it's unique to Europe.

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