The next morning, we did a quick tour of Juliet’s home and museum and got pictures on THE balcony, but the courtyard was already flooded with tourists by then. We had breakfast via room service at tables in our rooms, which was delightful. More pretending to be princesses ensued!
The hotel agreed to store our luggage while we explored the city (awesome!) and Daddy checked out while I signed the guest book. We then set out to see the fair city for ourselves. I hadn’t realized Verona is on a river, but our time walking along the river over bridges was some of my favorite. We had lunch at an outdoor pizza bistro and then found our first gelato! They served our drinks on ice, which this American really treasured after our days of lukewarm beverages. Our whole day in Verona, the weather was perfection.
I bought Jeweliet a little bronze magnet that looks like the statue of Juliet. I mailed my letter to Juliet, we browsed shops, took pictures and generally enjoyed ourselves. We also went to The Arena and gave ourselves a tour, which was awesome. The Arena was a precursor to the Roman Colosseum, and construction was started at a mere 15 A.D.It was used for sport, music and gladiator games and has maintained it’s glory. We enjoyed walking up and down the huge steps and finding fossils in the stone.
We saw Saint Anastasia’s church from every angle as we explored the city, so we finally bought passage and toured inside. Wow! It was incredibly ornate and glorious, but almost equally creepy. It is very sad to me to think some people believe gold and silver and art and candlelight cause God to hear our prayers. We also saw Saint Ferma’s from outside, and I thought it was really lovely.
It was near Saint Ferma’s that we had to catch our bus to the (big) train station to catch our train to Venice that evening. Thanks to a friendly nun, we caught the correct bus! We took a short ride from Verona to Venice and watched the vineyards go by. As we were boarding, guess who we saw hop on? Veriato, of course! He was like the little bug you look for on each page of a picture book. ;)
All of the bathrooms on this train were out of order, so several of us were anxious to get off! WE spoke to Veriato when we all got off and he asked if we had been at the right stop when we made our dramatic exit. He had tried to tell us this was not “the right Verona” but didn’t have the chance! Veriato was meeting up with some friends in Venice, so we again parted ways.
At the station in Venice, I took Dorothy and Phoebe to the restroom (which cost me a few Euros!) Dorothy never locks the stall door in public bathrooms, because of a fear that was soon to be realized, so I had to stand outside her door and hold it shut and make sure no one intruded. While I was performing this service and waiting on my own turn, I heard a faint sound.
It was very loud in the bathroom, and I almost disregarded the sound all together, but then I was sure I could hear an American voice saying, “Excuse me? Excuse me ma’am!”
I decided it was coming from the stall across from me, so I got Dorothy decent, let go of the door and approached the voice. This poor girl, about my age, was trapped in the bathroom stall! There was no handle on the door and she had been trying for who-knows-how-long to get free. She asked if I could pass her something she could use to unlock it. I couldn’t think of anything! I looked around, but there was no possible way she could get out from under the door or into the next stall.
I asked if I a coin would work, and she didn’t think so. I walked to the exit and looked for an attendant, but found none. I didn’t want to leave the bathroom because Phoebe and Dorothy were still in there, I had yet to use the restroom and didn’t have enough money on me to get back into the bathroom if I walked out!
I came back to the girl and she said she thought a pen might help. I didn’t think I had a pen handy, because I had packed my journal and art supplies elsewhere. I dug around and—thank God! I found my Central College Ministry pen and passed it to her.
She was able to use it to unlock the door and get free! The poor girl’s hands were bloody and my plastic pen was all torn up. She thanked me in the sincere, quiet way only exhausted people who are late for trains can thank their hero (I know this tone well by now) and we all ran out of the bathroom to get to where we needed to be.
When we finally got back to the parents, they were helping their own young, American girl. This girl had lost contact with her friend and her phone was not working, so she asked if she could use one of our phones. After several minutes on Daddy’s phone, she got a hold of her friend and gave the phone back. When it comes to European travel, Americans just need help.
We caught a water taxi and saw the canals of Venice for the first time. I hesitate to use this word yet again, but it was all very surreal. Even as I write this, with my torn up Central College Ministry pen, I’m not sure it’s all sunk in. We found our hotel (an 800 year old house, turned hotel) and checked in. Our room was up 75 stairs. There were no “lifts” in Venice, 800 years ago!
It was a humble room we all shared with big, shuttered windows that overlooked the red-tiled roofs of Italy. There was a fresh fruit market and some busy night-life restaurants in view. We dropped our bags and headed out in search of dinner. After walking around for a while and getting very hungry indeed, we stopped at little restaurant and ordered spaghetti and gnocchi.
The next day would be our only full day in Venice, so we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep in preparation for this momentous occasion…