Friday, May 22, 2015

Jonesborough, Pt II

I'm now wrapping up my week in Jonesborough and I have learned an awful lot. Here's what I did in the second half of my week here.

***

I went back and took pictures of all the things I saw in Jonesborough that I forgot to snap pics of earlier. I often walked around Jonesborough in the afternoon or evening after the library closed, because it was always nice outside, quiet, peaceful, and everyone was friendly. Sometimes the stores were open and I could pop in to the art gallery to look at art or into the music store to jam with my new friend Dean.


This courthouse is all old and stuff. Washington County is the oldest in Tennessee and one of the oldest in the old frontier (back when 'Murikah was just the coastal states).


The General Store sells slightly overpriced sandwiches, but they're not too bad. It's charmingly old-timey.


Creepy doll in the toy shop.


Saw the antique mart but did not go in. I meant to, but kept forgetting and had to be other places. Sorry, mom.


Another historic Jonesborough landmark. There is a nice bench up the street a bit that is a very nice place to sit and go over notes or read a book.


Jonesborough has plenty of churches, and I took pictures of many of them.


Here is another. I believe this one was a Presbyterian church.


This one is definitely a Methodist church. I only took pictures of these three churches, but there were definitely several more.


Here is the concert outside the courthouse on Friday night, an event that happens every Friday in Jonesborough. This week the featured group was called Harpeth Rising, an all-female trio from Nashville that played Appalachian-folk inspired music with some tight harmonies and a bit of an edge.


Here's a cute dog that was listening to the music.

***

On Wednesday morning, I headed to Jonesborough a few hours before the Elizabeth Ellis performance so I could get something to eat and hit the Jonesborough Public Library one last time. The performance itself was fantastic. Elizabeth Ellis has an entrancing way of speaking that comes straight out of the mountains of east Tennessee, and while her historical and folk material is great, it is in her narratives of personal lived experience that are the most powerful.

I had the great opportunity to meet with Elizabeth after the show and talk about storytelling. I had plenty of questions about structure and the way she moves from outlines of plots to full-fledged narratives, and she was very helpful and kind. She answered every question I had with careful thought and wisdom until all my questions were completely exhausted.

I even got the chance to meet with Karin Hensley, the Director of Operations of the National Storytelling Network, an organization that serves as a hub for storytellers and communication between them. We talked for a long time about how to get in touch with storytellers, the resurgence of the movement, and various festivals I could go to.


Karin gave me a huge pile of resources to check out, and later sent me an email with a bunch of links to even more resources. She and the rest of the National Storytelling Network have been incredibly helpful and welcoming to me this week.


The next night I got the chance to see Elizabeth Ellis again in the Mary B. Martin theater, a small and intimate theater in the ISC that really makes you feel like you're sitting on a porch somewhere, listening to a story up close. She was even better the second time. She opened with a short folktale from Hungary about an old woman who successfully cheats Death, and then launched into an ninety-minute tale about her own experience with a stroke in August and the resulting physical therapy. The story was called "A Stroke of Luck", which tells you something about the kind of person she is. She also quoted the Lord of the Rings several times:

"There may come a day when the courage of men will fail, but that day is not today. Today, we fight."

The quote is from Aragorn, addressing the armies of Men and Elves outside the Black Gate of Mordor in Return of the King (the movie, not the book). It seems a ridiculous quote out of context, but her storytelling ability is so great that when she delivered it, several people in the audience were brought to tears.

I had the pleasure of talking to Elizabeth again after the show, and she told me to keep her updated on my progress and let her know if I need anything. The kindness and wisdom that Elizabeth showed me might have been the best part of this trip.


The International Storytelling Center in the afternoon. Today, Friday, I just had two meetings, so I hung out in the sunshine in Jonesborough and the darkness in the ETSU library for the middle of the day. In the morning, I had a meeting with Professor Delanna Reed in the Storytelling program at ETSU, and she was incredibly helpful--most of what I was asking about was on her syllabus, so she was able to answer my questions in great detail and gave me great lists of resources. We talked about games and how they intersected with performing arts, and about various groups I could observe playing my game for my final thesis.

Later in the day I had the chance to have a long phone conversation with Dr. Hannah Harvey, an absolute expert on the intersection of performative storytelling, identity, and performance studies. She had a long list of resources for me to peruse, but she also had very concrete suggestions for me on the topic of making genre modular, encouraging different and unusual plot structures, and ensuring multiple points of view. I found her insight and suggestions perhaps the most helpful of anything I learned this week.


I spent the rest of the daylight doodling in my notebook (I started trying to sketch out some art for the final product, but it became doodling very quickly out in the sunlight) and filling out my little notecards for the prototype 1.0 edition. I am proud to say that it is more or less done at this point.


I had a great time this week in Jonesborough, and I am looking forward to reading the rest of what was recommended to me and finishing up v1. I'm headed back early tomorrow morning. Looking forward to seeing everyone at home. Miss you all. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jonesborough, Pt I

After a few suggestions from various people and getting my mother to promise that she would read it if I wrote it, I have decided to shock this blog back to life and write a bit about my trip to Jonesborough, Tennessee. I don't have the photographic skill that Sarah does, and sometimes I even struggle to focus the camera for selfies, but I have included a few pictures so that you can get a sense of what it's like here. I hope that as Sarah and I continue to travel, we can document our experiences here so we can remember them and so our family can keep up to date on what we have been doing.

I am in Jonesborough for a week this May as part of my honors project for my self-designed "Storytelling" major at W&M. William and Mary doesn't have a Storytelling program, but ETSU in Johnson City, TN does, so I came to Tennessee to check it out and get some advice from tellers in Jonesborough, "the storytelling capital of the world."

As far as I can tell, it deserves the title. It is home to the International Storytelling Center, an organization dedicated to preserving and developing the ancient art form of storytelling. They have tellers performing all week every summer (this week is the talented Elizabeth Ellis) and a festival in October, and they promote and fund tellers year-round. I came to Jonesborough ("the oldest town in Tennessee"!) in hopes that I could get some advice on my project from these master tellers.

***


I drove from Williamsburg to Johnson City on Sunday the 17th in my NEW CAR :D. It's a little over 400 miles and took about 6 hours. I drove north of Richmond to I-81 and then down the mountains from there--an absolutely gorgeous drive. I would have taken pictures of all the mountain chains and amazing overlooks, but I was driving, so I just took them with my eyes and remembered them. You can't see them.

Here I am stopping at the Tennessee border to buy Cheez-Its at a rest stop. Did you know Tennessee is "The Volunteer State"? I didn't. Makes sense, though, because everyone is so nice.


If you've ever been to Breezewood, PA, Johnson City is like that but bigger. It appears to be built of chain restaurants that grew over and on top of each other and spawned more mini-chains. I think the spores get sucked up in the clouds and roll down the mountains to the valley that Johnson City is sprawled at the bottom of and they just take root in the shade under the overpasses and grow into mega-version of every store you can think of. I did manage to find this cool little restaurant called Babylon near my hotel where I got some tasty schawarma that really hit the spot.


I'm staying in the Red Roof Inn in Johnson City like a real adult. I don't know if the TV works. Just checked--it does. I am living large right now. The desk is tiny and doesn't fit all my books but other than that this place is great. It has a shower and everything.


The next day, I set out from the hotel to find Jonesborough and get the lay of the land before my first meeting at the International Storytelling Center. Jonesborough is only about 15 minutes from JC, and the historic district is really only one street. I parked at the public library and headed to the visitor's center to learn about the town. There was a little museum there, so I poked my head in there and then headed out on the town.

I then learned that everything is closed on Monday (Sunday and Monday are the shopkeeper's days off), so I mostly just walked around and peered into dark windows. I did meet a very nice man named Steve who runs a lot of the public music events in Jonesborough and owns the art gallery I was poking around in, and he invited me to the public concert on Friday night. Pretty much everyone in Jonesborough is unreasonably nice.

I took a little walking tour and visited all of the notable landmarks. It didn't take all that long, because Jonesborough is a very small town. I forgot to take pictures, though. I kind of fall apart when Sarah isn't around. But I will revist some of the locations (the little general store and sweet shop are cool, and so is Sister's Row) and take pictures later in the week.


Then I made my way to the International Storytelling Center (right in the middle of downtown Jonesborough) for my meeting with Kiran Singh Sirah, the president of the ISC. He is an artist and peace-builder who believes that storytelling can bridge social divides and help people relate to and understand each other, and can form the foundations of meaningful relationships and partnerships. We had a nice long talk about how collaborative storytelling can be a meaningful way of building community and how I could structure my project to encourage a certain kind of storytelling that would equally involve everyone and make sure everyone is involved in the creative process.


After my meeting, I visited the local farmer's market to buy a loaf of fresh-baked bread and some honey. They were out of little jars of honey and only had the quart size, though, so I passed on the honey (until later in the week when the nice bearded yoked man said that they would get more little jars) and got some chocolate milk instead. It was the best chocolate milk I ever had. I finished it while I organized my notes from my meeting and sat in the Jonesborough Public Library Garden. When it started raining, I went inside the library.


The Jonesborough Public Library has a huge collection of books about storytelling and folklore (pictured is around a fifth of it), so I perused the shelves and did some research on the history of the storytelling movement and some basic narrative construction stuff for a few hours before I went back to the hotel.

The next day, Tuesday (today), started a little earlier. After breakfast, I popped into the Books-A-Million to see if they had a collection of books about storytelling, too. I hadn't come close to reading everything I wanted to at the JPL, but I wanted to see if there was anything I could take home with me.


I didn't find any special books on storytelling or folklore, but I did find that in Tennessee, magazines about science are filed under "New Age", so that's pretty funny.

My meeting today was with Dr. Joseph Sobol at ETSU. He is the director of the Storytelling program there and has been working on the program since 2000. His special interest is in performance (he is also a musician) but he had a lot to say about the history of storytelling in general and recommended me a lot of reading (classic professor). He also quoted Yeats a lot and said that storytelling was a form of magic. I strongly suspect him of being a wizard.

He also knew a lot about tabletop role-playing games, and even had a master's student that did a fair amount of her graduate work studying them as a form of storytelling, so we talked about that and he pointed me toward even more resources. This is exactly the sort of thing I came to Tennessee to find!


I headed to the ETSU library to check out their collection of books on folklore, which was a little bit bigger than JPL's and way bigger than Swem's. I skimmed a lot of the books that Dr. Sobol recommended, but didn't get a chance to read many of them in depth (even though I was there for a while--a few hours at least. they have a lot of books.) before the library closed for the evening. I resolved to come back later in the week to finish my reading.


ETSU has a very pretty campus, and the students were happy to point me back toward the parking garage. Like I said, everyone in Tennessee is nice.


They also love their sports. I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but that thing is well over 100 ft tall. It's probably 1.5 times the size of Kaplan. There were a large number of outlying baseball and football fields, too.

The last thing on my schedule for today was attending the Storyteller's Guild performance in the ISC. Every week, the guild chooses three of its members to perform at the theater there. This week, they were joined by the current ISC Teller-in-Residence, Elizabeth Ellis, for a total of 4 tellers, all of whom were great. I think Ellis was my favorite, but all of the tellers (including the man who had never shared as a guild member before!) were very good. The dedication of these people to their craft is inspiring. I talked to most of them after the show and collected some business cards, and I hope to follow up with meetings later in the week.

***

So far, this trip has been a success. I especially found my conversation with Dr. Sobol and the books he recommended helpful, and I will have to keep reading at the ETSU library and when I get back to W&M. I worked on some Act-II storyboards today at dinner and I think I am about done with those, so my first edition is close to being done. I'm looking forward to the rest of the performances and meetings I have lined up for this week, but I miss everyone at home. Hope everyone is well.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sorrento (7/31 - 8/4) : I Swear I'm Still Here Edition

Based on the last two depressing posts on this blog, you might think I got too tired writing about sad things to continue updating, and our travels in Europe ended in sadness and flea bites.

This would not be correct.

In fact, we had such a great time in Sorrento, I completely forgot to write a blog post about it and CONTINUED to forget until now, almost two weeks later. THAT's how much fun it was.

I feel like half this blog is me apologizing for updating late, and the other half is Sarah's pictures. No reason to change a formula that's working. Sorry for updating so late. America changes a person. Once I got muh freedoms back, I decided it would be best to use them doing non-essential things. That's my bad. I hope you enjoy these pictures from Sorrento.

***


Before we left Venice, we got one last dose of capitalist skulduggery - EasyJet had overbooked our flight, meaning we were not guaranteed seats on the plane, even though we showed up two hours early, were the first to the gate, and, you know, paid for tickets. We ended up on the plane, but we were not pleased. But that was the last touch of darkness--after that, Italy was sunshiney and beautiful and scenic.

Our last stop, Sorrento, is located on the Sorrentine peninsula, near Naples (and Mt. Vesuvius). It's a small town situated on the cliffs along the coast that feels as much like a beach town as it is possible to get while not having actual beaches, or at least very few.


The BnB we stayed at was situated in a citrus orchard, with lemon, orange, and lime trees growing everywhere, and a little stable and pen for this cute little pony. Sarah named him Pippin, and they became best friends almost impossibly fast. Every time we left our room, we would make sure to go visit Pippin for a bit.


We ate out every night in Sorrento. We had saved up as much money as possible during the rest of our trip for exactly this purpose, because we figured the food in Italy would be so good. It was delicious. We tried to get far off the beaten track and eat at restaurants where the patrons seemed to be mostly locals.


We also did a lot of exploring in Sorrento. All along the cliffs, hotels sit looking out over the water, and cool paths through caves and ledges lead down to the water. Some of them are concrete, but some are just carved out of the rock.


They're all lit by these dim lights, and surprisingly graffiti-free for its location. We found at least three cave passages that lead down to the beaches, but who knows how many there are down there... there are also lifts, but those cost money, and we were saving ours for Italian food.


The view at sunset was incredible. That ominous-looking lump over there on the right is Vesuvius, always ready to ruin someone's day... but it didn't, and this day was perfect.


Speaking of Vesuvius, we also headed over to Pompeii for a day to see the ruins. Sarah bought me sunglasses so my lil eyes wouldn't get strained or burned in the sun. If you look closely, you can see the means by which we took a selfie. If you do that, this picture becomes art.


After Pompeii, we took a train down to Herculaneum, a smaller town that also was buried by the Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD. Because it was much closer, it was buried under almost 10m of rock and was only re-discovered recently (well, in the past 300 years). Excavation is still ongoing, and they are still finding new artifacts and even human remains.


You had to pay to go on the real beaches with the black sand, since there were so few of them and they were all privately owned, but we figured it was worth it. On our last day in Sorrento, we paid up and spent the whole day on the beach.


I got Sarah a big floppy sun hat so she could shield her precious face from the Mediterranean sun.


The water was clear and cool, and the beach was hot and crowded. We alternated between two states of bliss, and I read an embarrassingly large chunk of LOTR. As beach days go, it was ideal.


The privately owned beaches had all kinds of infrastructure: docks, chairs, tanning docks, restaurants, changing rooms--but if all you did was chill on the beach all day, it was surprisingly affordable.


Each one of the hotels on the cliffside had its own set of tunnels through the rocks with frequent overlooks and foundations reaching down all the way to the water. It had the feel of an Age of Exploration fortress.


Except for, you know, the beaches and tourists.


Our last view of the Sorrento beaches before we left for home.


And our last selfie before home.


On our last night, we went to a little restaurant with the best food we'd had all trip.

For the past six weeks, no matter what I ordered at a restaurant, Sarah's food was always better than mine. And this wasn't a grass-is-greener situation--it was always true, and she agreed. Sarah always got food that was objectively better than mine. But not here. Here, I finally got lasagna that I thought was the best thing I'd had all trip, and I preferred it to Sarah's gnocchi (she still liked hers better). After dessert, the musicians passed out tambourines, and we all played and sang along, even though we had almost no idea what we were saying.

It was the perfect way to end our last couple days in Europe.


Goodbye, Sorrento!

***

Our three days of rest in relaxation in Sorrento were a perfect end to our two weeks traveling through Europe. We moved from place to place so quickly that we were worn out by the time we reached Italy, and Sorrento was just what we needed. When we hopped on our flight back to Dulles, we were tired and happy and ready to go home.







Monday, August 4, 2014

Venice, or what is left of it (7/29 - 8/1)

I won't lie to you--we were pretty excited to get out of Dusseldorf. Public transportation in Germany was pretty sweet, and the cathedral in Cologne was pretty amazing, but that was really it. We were excited to board our comfortable and spacious German plane (that was 25% quieter than every other plane we've been on) and get on to Italy.

There were two places on our schedule in Italy: the city of Venice and the town of Sorrento. We expected them to be very different: one is in a calm lagoon in Northern Italy, tourist capital of Italy, etc. and the other is in rocky Mediterranean Southern Italy, an almost entirely Italian beach town. And they were different. Very, very, different.


***
We arrived to Venice late, due to some thunderstorms on our route. It was almost 10:00pm when our plane landed and we found our way to the ticket counter. There, we got our first taste of what Venice would be like when we were charged 15 euro each for a one-way trip to the city by public boat (the other option was a speedboat, which cost 110 euro). The trip took about 40 mins, with over a hundred people packed onto our vaporetto (like a bus, but a boat), and we arrived at the dock very late. Our host, Maurilio, had been graciously waiting for us, late as we were, and greeted us warmly.


He led us to his house in the residential district of Venice, near the dock where we had landed. As we learned later, Venice has two districts: the residential district and the tourist district. It was late, so we crashed immediately and woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to see the city.


We looked out our window to see this in the morning, the sun already surprisingly high in the sky. Despite all the motorboats going past our window in the night, we had slept soundly. I'm not sure what about air travel makes me sleepy, since I sleep the whole time, but it really knocks me out.


In the daylight, we got to see Maurilio's home without looking through a lens of international-travel fogginess and grogginess. It was magnificent--a multi-room apartment in a converted "palace" from Venice's past. The ceilings were 15+ ft tall, and the dining room was so huge we felt almost lonely.


Maurilio took the "breakfast" part of "bed and breakfast" to a whole new level the next morning, with a full breakfast spread and classical music cranking through his stereo system.


It was hotter outside in the city than it had seemed standing on the balcony, so I was forced to improvise some capris to face the heat. I felt like I blended right in, but for some reason Sarah didn't seem to want to walk next to me.


And so we set off to see the city! The first place we headed was the Piazza di San Marco, but we wandered all over the city. This picture was taken at the edge of the Piazza looking south across the lagoon.


We had heard there were some canals in Venice. That was correct. There are a lot of canals in Venice. They have more canals than they have roads. And no cars, only boats.


But mostly what they have is tourists. Lots and lots of tourists.


And fancy gondolas for giving rides to tourists who are tired of walking around the hot city. You'd think 60 euros for a ten-minutes gondola ride would drive people away, but you would be wrong--these things were packed all day.


Every city has its signature item that they sell to tourists. In Venice, it's Carnival of Venice masks. These things were everywhere, in every shape and size and material, ranging from 5 euros to over 150.


We got to see pasta being made in a big hand-cranked machine. As the handle was turned, dough was squeezed through little slits and into a vaguely paste-like shape, then laid out on trays to dry and become REAL pasta.


The biggest attraction in the Piazza di San Marco is the Basilica di San Marco. It's a beautiful blend of Italian and Byzantine architecture, a combination that leads to lots of spires and ornate stonework...


And really detailed mosaic art. The columns were cut from at least seven different marbles (we didn't count), so there were no two alike columns standing next to each other. If you look behind me in the picture, you can see that the ground is shiny. That's because it's covered in several inches of water. The Basilica is so heavy that the actual stone around the Piazza has become concave, forming a shallow basin around the whole building. Due to rainfall and the fact that Venice is barely above sea level at the best of times, the basin is almost always full of water. There are permanent steel bridges leading to and inside the Basilica itself, so you don't have to get your feet wet to go in.


Also on the Piazza is this crazy clock, which tells the day and points to the astrological sign we are currently being governed by. Looks like it's Leo right now. Not sure what that means for us specifically, but I think it means "you're gonna get wet" to Venice in general. About now is when the Piazza started flooding.


Anyone who's played Assassin's Creed II has climbed and jumped out of this tower. Not the puddles in the background--those are forming around holes drilled in the ground that allows lagoon water to seep up into the Piazza during high tide. I have no idea why. Maybe it controls water flow somewhere else.


The edge of Piazza di San Marco, where the water level is pretty much at street level... and sometimes above it. Since artesian wells were banned in the Sixties, the aquifer is no longer being rapidly depleted and compressed, meaning the city is no longer sinking at an alarming rate, but once the city has sunken a little bit, it is hard to raise it again.


The palace of the Glorious and Illustrious Doge. No, not that cute little forced meme. The Grand Duke of Venice! Rulers of the Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years! Now a commercialized speed-tour of a sinking building.


A glued poster on one of the side streets of Venice. It depicts and overweight woman with a shirt that says "VENICE LAND" (we're thinking a comparison to Disneyland), hot pants, several designer bags, and a glazed-over facial expression. The perfect zombie of capitalism, descended on Venice to feast on its sweet flesh of neatly packaged and commercialized culture and beauty. It was some of the only graffiti we saw, and it looked like someone tried very hard to remove it--it was just glued on really well. In other places, we saw painted-over graffiti and posters like this. This was the first indication we had that something really was wrong in Venice, and it wasn't just a strange intuition we were having.


But it's so hard to keep in mind what you're doing to an ancient city when around every street corner is this view. Look how serene those wee boats are on the surface of the canal. I have no idea how the boater thinks he is going to get to them in order to pilot them, but they are serene nonetheless.


For all the water running through the city in the canals, it gets pretty hot. That might be a function of all the hot, sweaty, excited tourist-bodies pressed together in a frothing mass, taking the streets of Venice by storm. We sought shade and solitude often, but there was not much of either to be found.


The rapid subsiding that happened in Venice throughout the twentieth century flooded the staircases that led straight to the canals in many of the older houses, leaving the ground floors completely uninhabitable (unless you are a fish. Or maybe a mermaid).


As the day grew older, more and more water flooded Saint Mark's Square, leading tourists to take off their shoes and wade in their desperate attempt to consume Beauty. Some of the more savvy locals wore galoshes.


Here is the deepest water we found: almost six inches deep in this tunnel into Saint Mark's Square. I think it probably got deeper closer to high tide, but we didn't stick around to find out.


This waiter brought his wading boots to work. Smart man.


Trying to escape the frenzied tourists and the rising water, we ducked into a side alley.



We had no idea where it led, but we took the chance...


And stumbled onto some mercifully empty streets and canals.


We were hot and tired and thirsty, so we stayed there for a while in the shade and the quiet. Not many tourists were able to follow us through the alley, so we had some much-needed quiet time there in the shade and the beauty of non-commercialized Venice.


I know I keep alluding to Venice being commercialized, but I'm not providing any photographic evidence. That's bad form, I know, and I'm sorry. But you could not pay us enough to stand there and snap pictures, in that desolate and horrible place. We wanted out.


Venice has two districts, basically: residential and commercial. The commercial district consists of the street leading from Rialto to Piazza di San Marco (the two most famous and scenic spots in Venice) and a two-street radius around it (that's about as far as most tourists are willing to explore). The residential district consists of everything else.


The residential district has some pretty cool stuff in it, like this Renaissance-era arsenal. But they are not open to the public and indeed are not publicized.


But the commercial district (the left bank in the picture, populated with confused and lost tourists, wondering where the souvenir shops are) is not so nice. That street is lined, or packed, or even stuffed, with store after store: Gucci, Prada, Louis Vutton, Cartier, selling ridiculously overpriced items to sunstroked tourists who are confused about the euro exchange rate; rows of identical restaurants with 25 euro entrees, plus a cover charge and a service fee, if you want to be seated and waited on; hordes of street salesmen selling bottles of water for 4 euros; and every other building there is a souvenir shop selling masks and trinkets and expensive glassware. The tourist information office has a huge selection of maps of the city in many different languages, so everyone can experience the magic of Venice for themselves--for 5 euro each. You can't walk down the street without being pulled aside by a waiter trying to read you the menu of his restaurant, or a gondolier trying to pull you forcefully onto his boat.

It's a mass of sticky sunburned bodies clutching designer bags and shambling slowly through the close streets, stopping to snap pictures every few feet and moving, always, towards the edge of the city, where they gather in the Piazza di San Marco and swarm the Basilica in waves.

Tourists crawled over the corpse of the city, picking its bones clean and taking home the rotten flesh in shiny plastic bags.

If you think I'm being overly dramatic, you're probably right. The city was beautiful, truly unlike and beyond anything we had ever seen in our lives. But Venice was the only place we visited this trip where we felt like we were bad people for going there. It was a terrible feeling, and I hope to never feel it again.


This was one of the only places where we saw locals. It was full of old men reading newspapers and drinking tea, well off the beaten track and back in the labyrinth of canals and streets that we ran away to. It makes you wonder what they think of all this.

***

So that was Venice. We went back to the apartment in a daze and slept a troubled sleep. We agreed that we were glad we went, but we would never go back.

So we shelled out the 15 euro for the vaporetto back to the airport, hopped on, and left for Sorrento.