Shop ‘Til You Drop in Venice.
I had a terrible time finding the Hotel Flora here in Venice. I knew that was going to happen because the hotel provided a very explicit set of directions which contained the phrase, “You can’t miss it.”
Trust me: Yes, you can. The entrance to Hotel Flora is a couple of hundred feet down a narrow alley between two buildings on one of the main shopping streets.
Shopping is what Venice is all about. All the big names have shops here: Gucci, Ferragamo, Balenciaga, and on and on. There are also five or six guys who have set up their own little mini-displays on the pavement in front of those ritzy shops. Mostly it’s handbags, obviously knock-offs of the real McCoy. Around five o’clock yesterday afternoon there was a rain shower that lasted about a half-an-hour. It hadn’t been raining more than three or four minutes when the fake Gucci handbags disappeared and these characters were hawking umbrellas. All that hustle and initiative notwithstanding, only once over the past two days have I actually seen anyone appearing to be actually buying something from one of these guys.
I remember reading somewhere that at any given moment only three or four percent of the people in Venice are actual residents of this city — everyone else is either a tourist or someone who commutes here to a job trying to sell something to the tourists. It’s a damn shame, of course. But inevitable. Besides, we all buy stuff.
As was the case in Siena, the wi-fi connection here is just awful. I copy every message before trying to send because at least half the time it just sits there for several minutes then disappears into the atmosphere somewhere. It’s really frustrating because it means it’s almost always impossible to post photos and, whatever else Venice may be, it’s sure as hell photogenic! There’s something worth a photo everywhere you point your camera.
Tomorrow it’s back on the train: Venice to Milan and connecting there to Zurich, where I have absolutely no doubt that a decent internet connection awaits me. It took many minutes to post the one photo here, so Unless the Hotel Flora’s connection miraculously speeds up later tonight, my plan is to post several photos of Venice tomorrow night from Zurich.