We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Earthquake #2

About 9am this morning, a second earthquake magnitude of 5.8 shook all of Venice.  Once again, Modena was the epicenter.  This time, we were left with a few reminders- a statue in the garden near Piazzale Roma fell to the ground and shattered.  (photo courtesy of Comune di Venezia)

In the photo, you can see the statue on the left side of the gate still intact. It's twin, on the right side, is no more.

In our apartment, some cracks in the walls are much more pronounced after this earthquake, and some paint fell from the ceiling in one of the bedrooms. Nothing major, but  at the same time, it's a reminder that we were lucky- this time. There were two more aftershocks later in the day, both almost as strong as the first tremors. 15 people are reported dead.  

I have to say that the first time we felt the apartment moving up and down under our feet we were thinking "Wow, this is a first for us. Pretty cool."   After this second event and several aftershocks,  we're not so cavalier.  We've thought about our escape route very carefully and are much more prepared. I'm not thinking "Oh, it will never happen to us here" anymore.

As I finish writing this blog, I'm hoping for an earthquake-less night in Italy. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another Earthquake- at 4am this morning

Yes, another earthquake!  We woke around 4am when the bed, and everything around us was shaking. We quickly threw on some clothes and headed outdoors into the garden. Our neighbors were all up, hanging out their windows talking to each other.  I can only tell you it is a very odd sensation to feel this very old building shake and move under your feet!

We've felt a couple of other tremors in the past year or so, but nothing this strong or this long lasting. I dreaded hearing the news this morning, fearing another disaster similar - or worse- to the earthquake suffered in L'Aquila three years ago.

The aftershock we felt about 10 minutes later was minor, but disturbing none the less.

Within minutes, literally a minute or two of when the quake was felt, people in the Venice area were posting on Facebook, asking if anyone else felt it and was everyone ok.  Fascinating use of Facebook!

This mornings news reveals the quake hit northwest of Bologna, and so far 3 deaths reported, but a fair amount of damage to some historic buildings in the area of Modena.

Americas Cup- Venice 2012

The weather was perfect Friday afternoon, I had a few hours free, and the Americas Cup quarter finals were being held in the lagoon between St. Mark's and Lido that afternoon. Sounded like the ideal convergence of essential elements to me, so off we went, fully expecting to have to battle the crowds at San Marco all the way.

My friend Caterina and I disembarked the vaporetto at Valleresso only to be pleasantly surprised- no mobs!  Walking further, still no mobs.  Our plan was to  grab a light lunch in the vicinity of Giardini, then find a spot along the water to catch the race.

It's always an incredible sight to see the lagoon completely void of boat traffic.  The whole area was empty, then all of a sudden from off to the left between Sant' Elena and Lido came the boats. The New Zealand team was first, quite a bit in the lead, then 4 more close together. Breathtaking!

Here are a few shots of the action -

The Italian boat, Luna Rossa came in first in Friday afternoon's events. Unfortunately Team Oracle did  not do so well.

I was also eager to spend a little time inside the Arsenale, at the Americas Cup Village. In all my time in Venice, I had not yet been inside there. The place is enormous! I can only imagine what this area was like bustling with people making galleys in Venice's heyday. During the Americas Cup, this is the team base and also open to the public, with many displays and food booths. In the evenings, other special events are being held here.

 Rising out of the large basin was this enormous stand where  the race was being shown on a large screen.  There is a row of stalls set up selling beer, wine, champagne, panini's, pizza and fritto misto. I wished we had known about this, because it was relatively empty, no crowds, it would have been the perfect viewing spot for Mike to enjoy some of the race also!

I'm thinking that perhaps this was a once in my lifetime event to be able to view the Americas cup in person. Another perfect day in Venice!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Karen by any other name....

A few weeks ago, I noticed I was hearing quite a lot of "Ciao, Mike" being yelled out as we walked around the city. Shopkeepers, baristas, gondoliers, fish mongers- they are all shouting greetings to my husband. I love that we are feeling like part of the neighborhood, however, truth be told, I was a little jealous that I wasn't hearing "Ciao, Karen" as often.

Shortly after this, Mike and I were in a local cafe in Campo Santa Margherita a little after lunch when our local fish mongers walked in for a drink. First thing they yelled when they stepped through the door was "Ciao, Mike!"  When they approached our table, I asked them their names. I don't know why, but after all this time, neither Mike nor I knew them. They introduced themselves as Paolo, Riccardo and Gianni. In return, I told them my name is Karen. Paolo says back "Carol".  Mike and I both said, "No, it's KAREN".  "Oh, Ok,... Carol", Paolo returned.  We gave up.

Every time I pass through Campo Santa Margherita since that afternoon, Paolo yells out "Ciao, Carol!". Even if I am just turning the corner, way down the campo, he lets out a loud "Ciao, Carol".   We've tried correcting him, but to him, I am Carol, no matter what.

This morning, as I made my way to the vaporetto at Ca'Rezzonico the campo was still relatively empty, with just the vegetable and fish mongers setting up. When Paolo looked up and saw me coming, he yelled out "Ciao, Carol!  I snapped a photo just as he started singing "Carol, Carol, Carol.....". Really, he was singing. I wish I had thought to record him!

I smiled the whole rest of my walk to the vaporetto, and the Cheers theme song came to mind,
"You want to go where everybody knows your name" .  I'm there. 

Good news and bad news for vaporetto users- effective TODAY!!

First- the bad news:  The price of a 60 minute vaporetto ticket has gone up from 6.50 Euros to 7.00 Euros effective May 10, 2012. That's today, folks.

Unfortunately- there is more bad news- price of the traghetto is going up to 4 Euros. Thanks to one of my readers MaryK for checking alittle further on which traghetto. I see now on the announcement I didn't read down far enough. I assumed it was the traghetto crossing the Grand Canal. It's  not. It's to use the regular vaporetto to cross a body of water, for example from Lido to S. Elena. Thank goodness it's not the one's crossing the Grand Canal! I was about to have a little hissy-fit!

Here's a photo of the announcement posted in the vaporetto docks today:

And the good news- according to the second announcement, the multi-day vaporetto ticket prices have been reduced.  New prices are posted below.

I'm going to add my 2 cents in here: compared to other European cities (for example Prague), Venice's public transportation is quite expensive. Considering the number of tourists using the vaporetto each year, ACTV must be doing pretty well. We all should buy stock, if it's a publicly held company! Venice's coffers are dry, despite it being a major tourist attraction. I would venture to bet the city is not getting any of this increase in the vaporetto fees.  Everywhere you look on the internet you will see articles and editorials moaning Venice's financial status, and the reasons why. I'm still not clear on why a tourist tax is not an acceptable alternative. Whenever I fly into the Dominican Republic, I pay just to enter the country. You cannot walk through the arrivals area of the airport without  handing over a $10   US "tourist" fee.  OK, Venice. There's my 2 cents.