Wednesday, March 4, 2009 Venice

We left SFO yesterday, flew into JFK (dodging the big snowstorm of yesterday) and then on to Milan, Italy. We had some pretty fierce tailwinds and managed to make the trip in well under the allotted time. Still, it’s a long trip. Having arrived in Milan early, we were able to sample the rush hour in a major Italian city. Bad, but not too bad, we only came to a complete stop a couple of times. John stalled the car once or twice which added to the excitement. We are not used to a manual transmission.

On to Venice – we stopped a couple of times for coffee to accomplish the whole staying awake thing, got totally mixed up due to the new road outside of Venice which just opened last month but finally found our way in, dumped the car and took the water taxi to our hotel.

Did I mention it was raining? Now you ‘d think that after the daily rain in California, we would be totally used to it but this rain has bigger drops and more wind and it’s colder besides. Oh well, we won’t melt. And we figure it will keep the tourists from over-running the city.

But you know, we don’t really need the rain to accomplish that. It appears that the world economy is keeping tourists home and the effect in Venice is noticeable. We looked for a place to have lunch and it was really difficult to find one. Most of the restaurants were closed. Finally we opted for a small cafe and had a pizza. Later we went down to the bar/restaurant for our dinner of potato chips, olives and wine. While talking to our multi-lingual bartender/art management student from Albania, we find out the restaurant had closed last week due to lack of tourists. All the staff has been let go except him. We discuss many things. He is very earnest and is hopeful for his new government in Albania, in love with Venice and the fact that it is a living art museum, and complementary about the U.S. He says that people are hopeful that President Obama can make a difference. He says that everybody wants to be like the Americans – embracing the culture and style. He says that in the last century the U.S. has really changed the world. I think he meant this in a good way. But it looks like things are hurting here and we are curious to see if the slowdown encompasses more of Venice than just the local restaurants and our hotel.

More tomorrow.

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