Two days ago, we finally had our first acqua alta. This happens when the tide is high, the wind speed and direction are right, and the weather is right. The city of Venice then experiences flooding in most of the low areas and, if the tide is high enough, in some of the higher areas too. This picture is directly across the Rio San Trovaso from our living room window. It is getting towards the peak of the high tide, but it actually went even higher and over the steps.
That night (during the next high tide) San Marco and the Rialto area flooded with the tide reaching 124 cm. high (which is 44cm. above the level of Piazza San Marco). San Marco and the Rialto areas are two of the lowest areas in Venice. Venetians are very used to this. They frequently have metal plates about two feet high across the bottoms of their street doors, and you can walk down the street and see store owners sweeping the water out of their stores and running big fans to dry things out. Furniture in entryways will often have old liter-sized plastic bottles around the feet and legs of the piece to protect them. Knee boots are the order of the day if you need to walk in the water, but streets that regularly flood have wooden tables about two feet high interconnected to make a walkway. You can also just wait a couple of hours until the tide recedes, and the water goes back into the lagoon.
Yesterday we had to leave the house because Monday is the day the apartment gets cleaned. It was cold and very windy but no rain. We walked down to the Zattere, watching the tide rise as we did. The walkways were already set up down there and there was a little water left on the street from the night before. We saw an Alilaguna boat with its pilot stopped at the vaporetto stop, so Alan went over to ask if the Alilaguna would be running during the strike on Friday. Yes, he said, we could get to the Airport, but nothing at the Airport would be flying. The strike is not just a local vaporetto strike but a nationwide transportation strike which includes planes, trains, buses, taxis, etc. YOWL! We continued walking and discussing what we should do about leaving Friday. Frequently, these strikes are called off, often at the last minute, so it is hard to plan. We decided that when we got back to the apartment, we would worry about it and, if necessary and possible, change our reservations to Thursday. We have an early morning flight on Saturday out of London to Dallas and it is on a separate ticket. Our flight Sunday from Dallas to Albuquerque is also on a separate ticket and both those flights are using frequent flyer miles. The best choice really is to leave Venice a day early and spend two days in London.
The wind was getting so bad that we went into the Santa Maria della Salute Church. Today, all the lights were on, as they were cleaning the rotunda and the altar, so we got some wonderful views.
We left the Church and the wind was even worse, so we went next door to see the exhibit at the Dogana. The Dogana is the old Customs House and we had been past it many times but never in it. What a great exhibition venue. The exhibit is called “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” and is by Damien Hirst. Part of it is in the Dogana and part in the Palazzo Grassi, so we may go there on Tuesday. The premise is that a wreck of a treasure ship has been found in 2008 off the coast of East Africa and these are the finds. It is a wonderful exhibit and well worth seeing. The views across the Guidecca Canal from the Dogana are also wonderful, so it’s a double win.
We left to walk back, as it was 1 PM, and Alan was feeling lousy. We picked up four slices of pizza and brought them home and they served for both lunch and dinner. After lunch, I got to work trying to deal with the upcoming strike. Ordinarily, I would call British Airways and find out what they know and how they were handling it. However, we have no phone reception at the apartment. So, fingers crossed, I took to the internet and was successful in finally changing our reservations to the same plane but the day before. There were only three seats left and it took part of our kids’ inheritance to pay for the change, but it is done and we feel much more comfortable. We realize that the strike will probably be canceled, but we don’t have the option of waiting. I then contacted the Sofitel at Heathrow Airport and was able to extend our reservation there. Everything is in place and we feel much less anxious, so it was the right thing to do. Next time I will be more careful about making reservations for Fridays (or Mondays), because that is when most strikes are called. On our first trip on our own to Italy, we were caught twice by train strikes and forced to rent a car and drive both from Venice to Florence and from Florence to Orvietto.
Later yesterday afternoon, Christy came by to visit and brought us some of her very famous oatmeal cookies. These cookies are the best and I am so glad we got some before we left. Paul is still sick with the same cold Alan has, so he didn’t come.
Today is gloomy, with acqua alta and rain. Alan was up at least three times last night with coughing, so I doubt if we will do much. We do need more Kleenex so that will be one outing! Thrilling idea, isn’t it?