A missed 10th birthday, that's how it all started. Eight years ago, Mike had a conference in Venice and it happened to be during McKean's 10th birthday. To rub a little more salt in the wound, we decided to take Spencer with us to Venice as the year before Mike had taken Ski to Berlin with him for a conference. So for 8 years, McKean has often reminded us how we deserted him on his birthday and how we have never taken him to Italy. So when Mike came across the Venice marathon he figured he could kill two birds with one stone. He could indulge his favorite hobby and pay up on the missed birthday debt. It didn't take him long to convince McKean to run the marathon with him - Mick's first. They had a blast. Just for the marathon, they construct a bridge that rests on pontoons and spans the grand canal and brings you right to the edge of St. Marks square. The end of the race winds through St. Marks square past the basillica and finishes up and down a series of ramps that go over the steps along the grand canal. It is quite a picturesque finish line. McKean ran carrying a Flip video camera and recorded their marathon experience.
If you could only go one place in Europe, go to Venice. It's pure magic. The narrow alleyways that open up to magnificent churches. The textures - weathered brick, peeling paint, worn marble set against the velvet seats of the gondolas, the grandeur of sculpted marble cathedrals and well-dressed Venetians. And if that isn't enough there is the gentle sound of water lapping against the walls of houses. Pure magic. I never get tired of this place.
The best experiences I've had have been when I'm just wandering the labyrinth of alleys. The discoveries of little shrines to the Mother Mary or a worn turquoise door with a gothic arch at the end of a side alley or coming around the corner to catch a glimpse of a huge cathedral. It is a visual feast.
We always rent apartments and try to get them in quieter neighborhoods away from the touristy areas. This time we stayed in the Tiepolo apartment in the Castello area. It was very close to the hospital and on Sunday morning I wandered around for a couple of hours taking photos and only saw 3-4 Venetians on their way to church. It couldn't have been more perfect. One afternoon I stepped out on the balcony and saw these kayaks paddling around the corner in the canal below. What a cool way to see Venice.
Our first morning I woke McKean up early because I wanted him to experience St. Mark's square and the Rialto bridge before too many tourists arrived. This photo is one of my favorites.
Italian laundry. It is one of my favorite photo subjects. I'm sure the Venetians just roll their eyes when they see me snapping dozens of photos of their underwear strung out to dry, but I can't resist.
and their doors. Yum. Layer upon layer of rich texture. I'm in love with their door buzzers too.
I also stumbled across a flea market. Unfortunately we are traveling with only carry-ons this trip so I didn't have much suitcase space available. I ended up buying a handwritten text book written on handmade thick paper from the 1800's, an Italian poetry book and a mini deck of handmade playing cards.
I think the only way to get Venice out of my system is to live there for a year...or two.