Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Merchant of Venice

Apart from three spots of rain at Ephesus and a 30-minute downpour at Pisa, we'd had no rain since leaving Wales in early July.  But our first two evenings here in Venice were very wet.  Both evenings were dry until we settled into restaurants, and it then proceeded to precipitate during dinner.  

The first evening, we emerged from the restaurant to dryness.  But on the second evening, it was still raining steadily when we made for the hotel.  All during dinner, multitudes of passers by had donned raincoats, weather-proof jackets or had clutched umbrellas of various sizes.  Jean had packed our own raincoats in her Monaco bag, and, for the first time on this journey, we used them. 

It rained again on our third night, but only after we'd gone to bed.  That evening, we enjoyed our gondola ride rain-free.  Then, last night, our final night, as if to reflect the first two evenings, it began to sprinkle the minute we emerged from the Pizzeria.  It rained more heavily as we strolled home, and, once safely in the hotel, there was a storm.

But it was what happened on our way home on the second wet evening, draped in our raincoats, that we'll never forget.  In Venice, as in all cities in Europe, there is a band of foreigners, usually from the Indian sub-continent or from Africa, who assertively peddle tiny, useless objects for a few euros.  They're always men.   Often, they sell fake brand-name bags, or, if it starts raining, suddenly they sell umbrellas.  And in the heat of summer, they sell freezing cold bottles of water to tired, thirsty tourists.  They're resourceful, persistent, aggressive little marketers of their wares.  As we climbed the steps of a canal bridge near the Strada Nova, one of them stood at the top of the bridge in the rain, feverishly marketing his raincoats.   He saw us approach, obviously dressed in our raincoats.  Ridiculously, he tried to sell us two more.  Jean and I lost it then.  We laughed hard all the way down the other side of the bridge.  It was one of the funniest experiences.

The bridge, Ponte delle Guglie, where we were accosted by the (raincoat) Merchant of Venice 

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