Sunday, July 16, 2006
The last week in a nutshell
Venice was wonderful! Coming from Slovenia, everything seemed ridiculously expensive (whereas coming from the U.S., everything would only have seemed “very” expensive), and the tourists were bountiful, but we fought our way through the throngs to have a great time. The city is like its own little world, unlike any other city I’ve visited in Europe. The streets are mostly narrow, and what seems like an alley at first glance might very well be the street your hotel is on. Actually, that is what happened when we first arrived in Venice. That made our experiences (getting lost trying to find hotels in Europe) 2 for 2. Throw 200 people on a bridge, add two (or 20) trying to get across with suitcases, up the temperature to 40 degrees Celcius, throw on long pants and tee shirts, and you have an idea of our comfort level on Day 1.
We only had three full days in Venice, but we tried our best to squeeze in as many sights as possible. My photo link (still to be created, likely in August once I’m finally home) will have descriptions of what we saw.
Has the Amazing Race ever been in Venice? Dave and I were thinking what a great city it would be for that. We attempted three walking tours described (and even pictured!) in our guide book, and got lost each time. It’s a great city to get lost in, as long as you can work your way backwards; it’s very much like a labyrinth. One direction actually read: “cross the square diagonally, then zigzag left, right and left again until you get to [name] street.” Hmm. Not good for the directionally-challenged like Dave and myself.
On our last day, we got to the airport three hours early for our flight, because we’ve had bad luck in the past. Had we arrived two hours early, we would’ve missed out on a great experience, followed by one not-so-great drag. We found the long line-up for our Delta flight, and almost immediately, a supervisor (who looked like the Italian version of our friend Mark Kaczmarzyk) came to the end of the line and asked if anyone would be willing to take an earlier flight to New York JFK instead of Atlanta. We said sure, so he checked the availability of flights from JFK to Minneapolis. Sure enough, we’d be able to arrive in MN earlier than the Atlanta connection. Dave asked if they’d upgrade us to first class for our troubles, and Italian Mark said no, it was fully booked. He whisked us through the priority lane of security (a bonus on its own!), and the flight started boarding pretty much right away. The best part is that Italian Mark came through for us and bumped us up to first class after all. He gave me a little wink as he passed me the boarding passes. I’d like to think that New York Mark would do the same. :)
The flight to New York was fabulous. I’d been moved to first class once before, but it was on a much shorter flight on a much smaller airplane. My favourite thing about this flight was the seat itself. You could adjust it six or seven different ways, including a “sleep” position. Press that baby and you’ll never go back to coach. I couldn’t tell if our flight attendant liked us or not. I got the distinct impression we were “upgrades” rather than full-fledged regular first-class passengers in her eyes. Dave thought I was reading too much into that. Maybe it was how she tossed the hot towel in our laps after wiping her own face with it first. Or how she took a sip of our wine before passing it over to us. Call me crazy.
The madness began when we got to NYC. We had a three hour connection, and long story short, we were sprinting to our gate and our luggage didn’t make it with us to Minneapolis. Grr. I find it funny that in six months, I’ve arrived at a destination without my bags THREE TIMES. Funnier still, it had never happened to me before.
I thought I’d be reporting in this blog that we had to go to Winnipeg today without our luggage and return to Indianola via Minneapolis to collect it on our way home. Luckily that didn’t happen. We’ve been staying with Blake (McGee)’s parents DeAnn and Michael. Our friend Laura (see link called “Laura” (coincidence?) to the right) picked us up from the airport and drove us to the McGee/Lazovich household on Friday night. We were up on Saturday morning at 6am, and a bit later on we went downtown with Laura to check out the “Macy’s 24 Hours of Music” going on at Orchestra Hall. Of course, the only stuff happening at 10:30am was geared towards families. We saw members of the Minnesota Orchestra do a children’s concert of the Bremen Town Musicians (composer Edie Hill), which was fun. At least for Laura and I. Well, at least for me, as I can’t really speak for Laura. I can speak for Dave though, and I’m pretty sure he’ll avoid any more kiddy concerts until we actually have our own kiddies to bring. He wouldn’t do any of the animal sounds, the snapping, the head patting, or any of the other things Laura, I, and the 200 2-5 year olds around us were gladly doing! I guess Mr. “I almost have a doctorate” is above all that?!! ;)
We hung out with Laura for a couple more hours then went back to DeAnn and Michael’s. Still no word on the luggage, which was making us nervous. Blake came back from teaching at a nearby music camp, and Katrina was arriving later that evening. DeAnn took Blake, Dave and me to a Twins game, and even though I had to rest my head on Dave’s shoulder, I did not fall asleep!! The Twins were securely in the lead when we left in the 8th inning to get Katrina from the airport. We figured we might as well check on our luggage while we were there, and as luck would have it, one of our bags was behind the counter (it had been there all day), and another had JUST arrived on another flight from NYC!! So all’s well that ends well. We have our bags, and we’re off to Winnipeg in a few minutes here.
Jeremy Legault’s conducting recital (or should I call it an Event?...very large-scale!) is on Thursday and Friday. That’s right: two appearances, folks! If you’re in Winnipeg, check it out at the University of Manitoba. It’ll be great! Actually, if you’re in Winnipeg, email me so we can hang out. I might be very bored this week! What’s in Winnipeg again? Seriously, I want to know!
Bye for now!