Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 4

Day 4 Geneva, Switzerland to Venice, Italy
I got in a good run last night with Gustav and had a really nice time visiting with him and Lee Ann and Max . Their house was pretty unique--walls made of windows with huge metal blinds.  I had heard about the view, but it was too overcast to see much of anything.  Cool place--I love architecture that's different than the normal cookie-cutter stuff in AZ.

Had a nice 8 mile run with Gustav, which we finished around midnight.  Ran about 7:30 pace, which is pretty impressive for a non-runner like Gustav. 

Unfortunately, even in my obsessive planning of the trip, I overlooked some of the time it would take  to travel or I didn't have access to the train schedules at the time, so I estimated, and poorly so.  Lesson learned, and my time there was limited. Was hoping for some time to wander the Swiss Alps!

Had my best night of sleep yet, getting a whole six hours this time. Up at 9, breakfast with them, then we drove 12 miles at the rate of 10 mph due to some tree trimming crew on the opposite side. Traffic in the other direction was non-existent. Weird how that works. 

Had a quick lunch at the train station with lee Ann and company. She was really sweet and bought me a big bag of meals for the rest of the day after treating me to lunch, too!

Got to both trains on time, which was nice. It was a partial fiasco getting tickets since my Eurail pass only listed two of the three countries I said I'd be visiting.  Switzerland was one of them, but since it wasn't listed, I had to pay about 70 bucks more.  Gustav and I had a good laugh, though.  Ticket guy was some Italian dude with a pony tail and hair pulled back like Furio Giunta, the guythey brought over as an enforcer in The Sopranos TV series.   

Enjoyed the view of Switzerland as we wove in and out of mountains.  The Swiss landscape consisted mostly of very high terraces from the train tracks up into the mountains where grapes were being grown. It went on all throughout the country. I never realized that the wine industry was so extensive in Switzerland. 

It was a noticeable change in the architecture from Switzerland to Italy.  Swiss had mostly wooden houses with turrets like you see on Disney castles here and there. Italy had stone buildings, sculptures and columns.  Crummy, run-down areas near industrial zones resembled that of the US. At times, I would close my eyes and pretend I was in the US and then open them to see if there was a real difference from our middle of nowhere, weathered, neglected communities on the outskirts. There wasn't.  I've seen it before. Nice to know that's a universal thing.  So is graffiti.  

Met some nice people on the train.  First, I initiated a conversation with Franchesca Fusco, an Italian native working in Switzerland, who was going to visit her family for the weekend in Milano.  She drew me a map of where to visit while in Milano and we had some pleasant conversation for a couple of hours. 

I changed over to a second train after a brief layover in Milano.  The subway was like a colosseum! Huge ceilings way past the point of even the longest ladder, arches, columns and sculptures! Wow, really incredible!

Had my half a chicken, yogurt and smoothies Lee had packed and got aboard my third train of the day.  Ended up with another two sets of seats facing each other with tables in between. Met Marta and her older friend whose name fails me at the moment. We had a nice three hours of Italo-English discussion, confusion and banter back-and-forth on the way to Venice.  We taught to and learned from each other. It made the final two hours fly by and I came out with a couple of nice friends. 

The subway in Venice wasn't as big, but still nice. I had managed to speak to Dave on the phone about directions for the apartment and he let me know it was approximately a 45 minute boat trip to Lido from the train station.  I waited a few minutes, boarded the boat and finally disembarked at Lido, just before midnight. The night scape was pretty nice from the boat and I saw all of Venice lit up.  I arrived at La Maleta restaurant as Dave instructed and used their Internet for a while I waited for Dave to come back from a party. Dave and Sadie picked me up at the restaurant and we headed upstairs to the apartment. Funny's called Villa Chiara, which is the way I wanted to spell Kiara's name and is pronounced the same.  Oh, how I miss my sweet little girl!

The third floor apartment boasts 12 foot ceilings, a three inch thick front door and a very spacious living room with huge windows and balconies with nice street views. Dave showed me a few things, gave me this huge treasure chest pirate key for the front door, and then bid me good night.  I chose my room and settled in, as it was already midnight. Then, being the night owl I am, and realizing it's only like 3PM in AZ, I went out for a stroll. 

I'm not your normal, everyday tourist.  I have a child-like fascination with pushing the limits to see what's allowed.  In this instance, it's what's behind the fence. I mean, I knew it was the beach and I really wanted to go check it out, but I passed up the first hole in the fence, then the second.  I began sweating and shaking with excitement, proud of myself for behaving. Further down the street, I encountered the third hole in the fence and couldn't resist. Without further resistance, I hopped the low part of the fence, jumped off the wall onto the beach sand, and proceeded ninja-like through the shadows, out of the way of the giant spotlight. The beach was different than anything I'd ever seen.  Yeah, it was ocean waves and water, but it featured hundreds and hundreds of little tool shed-sized shacks, complete with chairs and tables and a locked door with a changing room in back.  What an ingenious way to avoid skin cancer as well as having sand kicked on you by someone's kid or getting an eyeful when someone is shaking out their sand-laden towel next to you!

I proceeded in stealth mode out to the furthest point on the rock pier that jetted out from the shore. I took off my shirt and enjoyed the cool night air, about 20 degrees cooler than AZ.  I spent a while out there, clearing my head and relaxing and regaining focus.  I walked the beach to find big shells for Kiara, but there was nothing good. After getting my fill of beach timwe, I retraced my steps through the myriad of identical beach shacks to the point of secret egress/entrance.  I continued my night walk, taking some really good, unimpeded pictures along the way.  I walked a pier, straight for what seemed like forever, became bored and headed home.  8 miles done, I now found myself in bed.

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