What a great afternoon...very unexpected. I was up way to early..phone call at midnight, cat meowing at 5am, you get the picture. So when siesta time rolled around I pondered the idea of taking a nap. I got all cozy on the couch in my entry way with my Moby Dick novel (what a tough book to read!) when the doorbell rang. It was Gabriele, my realtor. He wanted to know if I was available to go with him to check on some apartments that will be rented for tourists in the upcoming week (i.e. make sure everything is ready, etc). I said sure since the beauty of being unemployed is that you can come and go as you please. What I didnt know was that we were going via his boat!
Gabriele has a small motor boat, less than 40hp, but the perfect way to travel. I learned so much today and the perspective of the city from the water is amazing. For starters, you get to see so much architecture and decay and history that you wouldnt otherwise see unless you were right there on the water. And I learned much about the city:
1. Gondoliers get between $100-125 for 30 minutes of cruising. You can usually talk them down to $80 during the day but not so much at night. The interesting thing about this is that they keep all the money! I thought perhaps the money went to some company and then they got a salary but that is not the case. Just do the math with me. Ten 30 minute trips a day at a hundred dollars each.....I should marry a gondolier is the answer to that equation! (oh yeah, did I mention it was tax free also!)
2. The same scenario goes for the private water taxi people. So, if I cant find a gondolier, I can marry a taxi driver...hows that for funny...one would never aspire to marry a taxi driver in the US! haha
3. The city is built on tree trunks. There are literally millions of them below the island. It starts about 6-8 meters (20-25 feet) below the surface of the water. They placed the tree trunks vertically in the mud and then placed another layer horizontally on top of that and then a third layer again vertically. The layer in the mud has not deteriorates over all these years because there is no oxygen down there...great chemical reaction and I wonder if they knew that was going to happen. So Venice is sinking but only because the trunks are sinking into the mud, not because the trunks are deteriorating. After the tree trunks starts the brick buildings. The historians and architects, etc have concluded that these buildings are constructed so much better than anything we make today (duh!).
4. You dont need a drivers license to drive the boat as long as you have less than 40hp. If you have a place to dock your boat along a canal (inherited pretty much like apartments), its about 80 euros a year in taxes. If you park at a marina type place, its about 1400 euro a year in taxes.
5. When you overtake (thats the term they use--we call it passing) a gondola in your boat, you are supposed to always do it on the side where their paddle is. This gives them the most control over their gondola.
6. Venice is a beautiful city, but it is magnifide intensly when you are in a boat!
What a fabulous 3 hour trip I had....I saw a fantastic apartment that rents for $1100 euros for the week! It was really nice--not the right part of town for $1100 but still a fantastic set up. I actually maneuvered several times getting in and out of the boat under various circumstances. Because the water was is still pretty high today, many of the step are under water. Or there is a great possibility that you wont be able to dock your boat anywhere near steps and may have to just literally go straight from the boat over a railing while holding onto a pilon. It really pays to be tall in situations like these! I wont say I was the most graceful at it, but I didnt fall in the water which is really important to me after last week.
And with that, I think I will go celebrate with some gelato!