While Margot and I were in Italy we didn’t do a lot of traditional sightseeing. We spent a lot of time exploring nature and playing outside with our friends. Just like we do at home. There were times when we were in the woods and a fellow nature lover would come by and say “Ciao!” and I suddenly realized “Oh yeah! We are in ITALY right now!”
It’s one of the advantages/disadvantages of travelling as an American that we get to walk around in this little English-speaking bubble. I did study Italian before our trip, and I used a very little bit of it. One of the friends we were staying with spoke Italian beautifully, so he acted as our translator for most of the trip, and, in general, when I spoke to people in shops or on the street with my halting Italian, they responded in perfect accented English. So, it happens that on our trip to Italy, sometimes I forgot I was in Italy until a well placed, drawn out “Ciiaaaoooo” brought me back to reality.
I tried to explain the concept of how far we were travelling to Margot. I showed her on our globe and I explained the basics of air travel, but… it’s a really hard concept. And if I was forgetting that we were in another country, then I can’t imagine what Margot’s experience was like. Just last night she was talking about an indoor playground that we have been to which is a 5 minute drive from our house. She said, “Remember when we went to Billy Beez in Italy?” and I had a hard time convincing her that Billy Beez was not actually in Italy, but it was here, in New York. So, her understanding of international travel is a bit… loose.
Someday she will understand it, and she will look back at these photos of her at 3 years old in these magical places and she will be grateful (I hope!).
But, you’re not here for me to wax poetic about how appreciative my daughter will be when she’s older. You’re here to hear the story of me getting peed on. I know. So, here it is:
When I realized we would be 2 short hours away from Venice, I knew that was the one item on my Must Do In Italy list. It worked out that the day we went there was a bit rainy and dreary and we were meeting up with some other friends of our hosts (who were visiting from Israel.) So our day in Venice got off to a slow start, and when we finally arrived we spent a while waiting in the train station for the rest of our group to arrive. Waiting around Margot (who has inherited my keen sense of smell) commented that she smelled bananas. I said, “oh, I see that person over there is eating a banana.” And then, that person came over to us with a bag of fruit and… gave us a bunch of fruit. This part of the story really has nothing to do with anything else that went on that day except for the fact that, like a fairy tale, a stranger in a train station gave my daughter an apple. I let her eat it. And, we are all still here. Sometimes an apple from a stranger is just an act of kindness*.
So, finally, we were off on our Venetian adventure! We roamed the streets and… promptly got lost. Which is, apparently, a rite of passage. To add to our sense that as English Speakers we are entitled to always having someone around who can speak to us in our native language, right as we were reaching the point of desperation, a man approached us and said “Can I help you? I recognize the lost look on your faces.” Turns out he and his wife were retirees from the UK who had lived in Venice for 4 years.
They directed us to a gondola taxi cab (a ride which lasted about 30 seconds) and set us on our way to Piazza San Marco.
We were making our way there and just getting to the point of feeling a little lost again when I said “let’s go through that little archway, it looks like it might be cool on the other side.”
I was right. It lead us right into Piazza San Marco, which, if you are wondering what it looks like, I suggest googling, because I did not really get any pictures that do it justice. (Another major bummer about not having Todd on this trip is that my cell phone photos don’t show anything properly. Todd is the photog in the family.) When we were standing in the center of Piazza San Marco, I compared it to standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, it was too big and beautiful to see it all at once.
The lines to go inside of anything were way too long to stand on with three little humans, so we just gawked a bit and then got gelato for the 5 billionth time.
We really wanted to see Venice by boat for more then 30 seconds so we headed to the water to get on what is essentially a Venetian bus. Right before we got on the boat-bus Margot said “I have to go potty.” And I said, “Okay, we have to go all the way back through the Piazza.” Margot said, “Nevermind, I can hold it.”
Okay. Obviously, it is now apparent to all of you that I made a huge mistake. I should have insisted. But, here’s the thing. Sometimes Margot really CAN hold it. Sometimes she doesn’t REALLY have to go right at that moment. And, most of the time, if she says she doesn’t have to go anymore and one of her loving parents tries to get her to go anyway it turns into a 10 minute long battle of wills, and the boat was leaving in 2 minutes. So, we got on.
We were about 5 minutes into the ride when she started to wiggle on my lap. She was miserable, I was miserable, the rest of our group was on the other side of the boat, and the end was not in sight. So, I said, very calmly to Margot “Just pee, I have a change of pants for you, just, go ahead and pee.” She said, “But, then you will have pee on you.” “It’s okay, Margot, I will be okay, just pee, Baby, it’s okay.”
She refused. I went on trying to convince her, she went on wiggling and crying and saying “no.” I finally caught the eye of one of our friends and said “We have to get off at the next stop, she needs to pee.” And then, immediately, “Nevermind.”
Friends, I was not really prepared for HOW MUCH pee my child had stored up in her bladder at this point. We had used the bathroom not that long ago, and she hadn’t been drinking a lot that day, so, when the pee came and kept coming, I prayed to the gods I don’t believe in that my jeans would be sufficient to soak it all up. They were.
So, the rest of our boat trip was actually pleasant. Margot stopped wiggling and crying and started enjoying looking at all the buildings and the gondoliers passing by. And, I was covered in pee. For the rest of the day. Because of course I had a change of clothes for my 3 year old. But, I did not have a change of clothes for the 32 year old…
Other highlights of sightseeing: We went to Milan and on the line to go to the roof of the Duomo… we saw someone we knew from home! BECAUSE THIS WORLD IS SO BIG AND YET SO SMALL…
Okay, I have two more posts coming up about Italy, and then I will get back to our regularly scheduled programming of random posts about nothing in particular.
*always use proper discretion when eating food from strangers.