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Final stop in Europe

sunny 82 °F
View 2017 Summer on randjb's travel map.

I will put more pictures from Firenze onto the site and, of course, many from our time in Venice, but I wanted to add another blog entry before adding additional photos because, as of August 19, we returned from Europe to Boston. So our trip has entered its final phase. Bringing the blog up to date through Venice finishes telling about our time in Europe.
The train station in Firenze was every bit as hot as the rest of the city had been for ten days, which made getting onto the air conditioned train all the more satisfying. To our delight, when we arrived in Venice, the city was 20 degrees cooler than Firenze with a nice breeze blowing across the water. We took the slow water "bus" up the Grand Canal to the Rialto Mercato (Market) stop and moved into our new apartment, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, newly renovated unit that overlooked the market and Grand Canal. We have stayed in some lovely Airbnbs throughout our trip, but we might have saved the best for last. How do you improve on looking over the canal?
If you are unfamiliar with Venice, the Rialto area is in the center of the two main islands, much more so, for example, than San Marco Piazza, and while we didn't scrimp on taking water transportation, the longer we were in the city, the more we chose to walk. From our location, almost everywhere was reachable in less than a mile.
Venice is the most interesting city I have ever walked, both because the canals were originally the only means of transportation and therefore lace through everywhere you go, and because you are constantly being surprised. With few exceptions, Venice doesn't have streets; it has sidewalks. And many of the sidewalks dead-end at a canal. Learning which sidewalks have a bridge at the end of them becomes essential if you want to reach your destination. When we were in Venice ten years ago, I got us seriously lost, ending up on the opposite of the island. Now we have Google maps. We still got lost but discovered our mistakes much sooner.
Not that getting lost in Venice is a bad thing. We were still discovering shops, interesting churches, and sites to see as we neared the end of our visit. What looks like the smallest alley can lead you to a wonderful campo. You think you are far off the beaten path and come across a restaurant or shop. Each corner you turn has the possibility of bringing you to some place unsuspected. And, as pointed out on one of walking tours and which we found to be true, walking even a block away from the major tourist areas significantly changes your experience of Venice.
The noise disappears, few people remain, you can stroll and take your time to enjoy the architecture, or stop on a bridge just to look at the houses that remain accessible only from a canal. Plus this is where the locals live, which means the restaurants with the best food and not too outrageous prices are there to be found.
Only 50,000 people still live in Venice, it's just too expensive for the average family, but this is where you'll find them and the shops and restaurants they frequent.
To summarize, by all means see the Grand Canal and take the boats out to some of the other islands, but give yourself time to wander around and get lost on the sidewalks of Venice. That's where the real city lives.

Update: Chesirae got better but only slowly. Her stomach never settled enough to allow her to see the city, for which we are all sad. But she has time to come back. I am sure she will.

Posted by randjb 04:11 Archived in Italy Tagged venice italy Comments (0)

Medical Update

All turned out well

sunny 82 °F
View 2017 Summer on randjb's travel map.

As you know, this summer has been our family's tour of Europe, Chesirae's graduation present, and a chance for the three of us to be together before Chesirae takes wing on her own. But medically speaking the last two months have been rough. For Chesirae, things started out with irritants, mosquito bites in Paris. In Seville, however, she caught whatever bug I had in Paris and spent most of 10 days in bed. She got better only to run into an unrelenting heatwave. Granada had record breaking temperatures, Barcelona was only slightly better, Nimes was more heat and so many mosquitoes she couldn't keep the windows open when the nights cooled. The worst of the heat was Florence, the highest temperatures in 20 years, and Chesirae was again housebound.
We were excited to reach Venice where the highs were only in the 80's, and we thought all three of us would finally get more time sightseeing together. Within two days, however, she developed shin splints and was again stuck in the apartment. We wrapped her leg, started icing it, and hoped she would mend quickly.
Yesterday morning, however, she woke with chest pain, had trouble breathing, and later felt pain in her left arm. As the pain was sporadic, we all hoped this was an aberration.
Today however, the pain remained and she was still having trouble breathing.
We began to worry.
We called Kaiser (in the US) to get advice. After describing her symptoms to the nurse, who relayed them to a doctor, they advised us to get to a hospital as soon as we could, fearing she might have a blood clot.
We worried more.
Venice is not the best place to have a medical emergency. The ambulances are boats. Walking to the hospital would be quicker, about 15 minutes, but I felt guilty for every step as our sick daughter had to trek to the emergency room.
We arrived at Hospital SS Giovanni e Paolo at 11 a.m. and were there until 4 p.m. Emergency rooms in Italy are very much like those in the States, crowded with people who all need attention. We did a lot of waiting, but eventually Chesirae got an EKG and a series of blood tests. After more waiting, we got the results. The doctors couldn't find anything wrong.
Big relief.
And Chesirae is beginning to feel better.
Moral to the story: Big plans for college in Boston, new house in San Diego, an entire summer traveling Europe, everything put together has no value unless your family is safe.
Not a profound learning - but today made the lesson very real.
One tiny footnote: the entire trip to the emergency room, EKG, blood tests, and two doctors examining her cost 70 euros, about what we paid for dinner last night, and that was for someone who is not a citizen of Italy or even of the European Union. Thank you socialized medicine.

Posted by randjb 11:54 Archived in Italy Tagged venice medical italy hospital Comments (0)

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