Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Wednesday, November 10, 1999 11:21 AM
Subject: Venezia & Verona! Oct 17-19, 1999

Current Date/Location: Nov 10, 1999...back in Texas at the parent's
house...ahhhhhh...free internet access.

Current Itinerary: Spend 2 weeks with family and friends in the USA...then off to S. America for 4-5 months. NOTE: Egypt had to be canceled due to lack of time (I wanted to spend more time in S. America...will go some other time.)

NOTE: Forgot to mention in previous e-mails...I had a shoe "blow-out" in Praha. The tread on my hiking shoes split in Prague (reason unknown...I was just walking around in the rain (remember all the rain in Prague and Munich??) and noticed that my feet were getting wet...). The tread split in such a way that it doesn´t interfere with walking, and is fine...except in the rain...hmmmm (anyone got some duct-tape??). I want to buy a good pair of Goretex hiking boots in Texas, and did not want to buy a pair of interim
shoes (ie...read that I am cheap)...so for the past month, I have prayed for dry sidewalks...and when it rains, I wear a plastic bag over my sock in my shoe. It is kind of silly but it works...and I saved a bundle!
Additional NOTE on Frescos: Thanks to my friend Angela (and her friend Lisa) who also informed me that Frescos are painted with an egg-based paint called tempura (sp?).

JOURNAL:

October 17, 1999
...in the morning, I was lucky to awake from my food-induced coma after the wedding in Treviso...I rubbed my stomach...hoping that I would not have any stretch marks from having eaten so much at the wedding! I had to leave Treviso or run the risk of becoming as big as a house from eating too much...

I strapped on my backpack and said goodbye to the girls, the Vidotto family...and Zio Bruno (sniff...sniff...)...and headed for the trainstation.  An hour later, I was again in Venice to spend another couple of days. Venice has very few hostels, and I was fortunate to ring Foresteria Valdese
(phone 528 67 97 for those still travelling...it is great!)...they had one bed left for men...and I had to hurry!

I walked (practically ran) across Venezia to get to the hostel. I arrived in time, and the lady checked me and another girl in as the last two people to get beds at the hostel...whew! The girl, Gabriela from Rio de Janiero, and I expressed that we were happy to be there...talked for awhile...I practiced my poor Portuguese skills (thanks to my friend Claudia, I can say Bom Dia and Obrigado...and lots of other bad things in Portuguese...). Gabriela was on holiday from her job as a producer of "Bom Dia!" (Brazil´s
equivalent to Good Morning America!). Since we had both arrived, we decided to tour the city together.

One thing I found out quickly about Gabriela...she HATES PIGEONS!!! She would walk around with her wonderful Brazilian accent saying "I hate pigeons! Why do they feed them? They should kill them all!"...now this may sound harsh when I type it...but it was pretty silly and endearing to hear this everytime we saw a pigeon...hmmmmm...did you know that Venezia is probably the pigeon capital of the world! Pigeons are everywhere...so needless to say, Gabriela had lots to talk about...and fortunately, Gabriela speaks English better than I speak Portuguese (and for that matter, better
than I speak English...).

We tried to go to the Basilica San Marco...but the place was ROTTEN with tourists (NOTE: At this point, Venezia is cold, wet (read notes above about the shoes) and not particularly tourist friendly...why are they here!!! Go HOME!!! ...hmmmm...I guess I am here...cést la vie...). Instead, we went up the big Bell Tower of San Marco...and it was both Vento y Fredo (Windy and Cold) up there! But it was a beautiful view of the city...and we were fortunate (or unlucky) enough to be there when the bells went off...BONG
BONG BONG...needless to say, we were within 5 feet of a huge bell going crazy! OSHA (USA Agency to prevent people from getting hurt and doing stupid things) would have shut the entire place down for fear of everyone going deaf...but since they have no jurisdiction in Europe, we were there...BONG!

We then walked around the city...hard to remember exactly what we saw...lots of bridges...lots of canals...lots of churches...bridge of sighs...we went into the Galleria dell Accademia and viewed the art (hmmmm...imagine that...art in Italy!??)...saw lots of pigeons...heard Gabriela plot the eradication of pigeons from the planet...sat and talked...and generally enjoyed Venezia for what it is: One of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Probably one of the most endearing qualities of Venezia is the complete lack of motorized noise...there are no cars and none of those damn motorbikes that the Italians love to drive up and down the sidewalks. It was one of the nicest days I have spent on my entire trip...and I would be lying if I said that Gabriela didn´t have anything to do with it. She was a pleasure to talk with and has a spirit of living that is enviable. I will never forget talking with her on the Ponte dell´Accademia (bridge) and looking out over the city...a great moment (PSM). Venezia is not exactly a happening night-spot, so we just went to a cafe and talked that night...called it a day and returned to the hostel.

Oct. 18, 1999
Woke in the hostel...had a great breakfast...and was kicked out! They had told me when I checked in that the hostel had a group coming today and I would have to checkout...sniff...sniff.

Gabriela and I called around and finally found a fairly cheap hotel room that we could share in the city for not too much money. We moved our stuff into the new hotel and continued to tour the city.

We went to the Basilica di San Marco...again, one of the most impressive churches in Europe (or the world). Saw a Venetian Glass Blowing demonstration which was again very interesting. Walked around the city to a greater extent and got lost...but enjoyed it...and crossed many bridges in the process.

My friend Ali was in Venezia with her father, so we all met for dinner which was very nice. Again, another early night...really, Venezia is not much for partying.

Oct. 19, 1999
Gabriela and I departed Venezia and went to Verona for a day. Verona is a beautiful town that is much less touristy than most other Italian cities. We checked into our hostel, which was in a 15th century monastary...quite cool.

Walked around the city, viewed old Roman ampitheater, walked across lots of bridges (they are everywhere here in Italy), went to the Roman Arena in Verona (a huge complex that is being restored), visited the famous Juliet balcony in Verona (don't forget that Verona is the setting for Romeo and
Juliet) and generally enjoyed the heck out of the city. I think that Gabriela and I agreed that Verona is one of the nicest towns in Italy...lots of history and things to see...not as many tourists.

Now, writing this on Nov. 10 is almost a month after I was in Venezia and Verona...the writing is somewhat dry...probably due to time having passed...but this truly was one of the nicest parts of my entire trip. Gabriela was a fascinating person who I was happy to travel with for a few days...few people in the world have her zest for life or her sense of humor...Venezia and Verona acted like a wonderful canvass on which to paint memories...and travelling with a person like Gabriela helped to paint bright
and colorful images that a journal and photos will not reveal...c'est la vie...Obrigado Gabriela.

Doug