Our time in Florence was pretty good. In our afternoon there, Joshy, Joey, Nadav, Seth and I went to the Accademia to see the David. It was absolutely breathtaking. The sheer size of it is incredible (especially when considering this tidbit I picked up from a nearby tourguide: between the fall of the Roman Empire and the time of the David’s carving, there were no statues made anywhere near the size of the David. That means that 500 years elapsed and yet Michelangelo had no problem taking hammer and chisel to a massive block of discarded marble to bring out the David), but beyond that, the entire body is in perfect proportion, and it is just stunning. The rest of the museum is unimpressive, though Joshy told me that I missed a room with a Stradivarius violin, which is upsetting. After that, we walked to the Duomo (closed but we marveled at the outside) and the Jewish Ghetto (the synagogue was also closed, but again, beautiful from the outside). When we got back to the hostel, we relaxed for a while and then hung out with girls. It was great to see them (and watch an episode of Lost), but after dinner I didn’t feel like going out so I watched Anchorman and had an early night.
The next day, after breakfast with the girls, we split up into two groups, Adam and Gabe went to see the David because they had missed out on it the day before, and the rest of us went to the Da Vinci Museum. On our way there, we passed the Duomo again, and went in this time. The dome is absolutely breathtaking, but other than that, I wasn’t too impressed. I may be Christianity-ed out, or maybe all churches just pale in comparison to St. Peter’s. In the Da Vinci museum, based on da Vinci’s original plans, they have created some of his incredible machines. They have early bicycles, machine guns, parachutes, tanks, and a 12-sided room with mirrors covering every wall. It was really cool, and we ran into the other boys group there which was nice.
Once we finished there, we went to the train station to catch our train to Venice. The ride itself was very pleasant (the train was the nice, express kind which we’d also had on our way to Florence, with unbelievable leg-room, which is very important for people like me) with scenic mountain views out the windows. I read Have a Little Faith and listened to my iPod the whole way (I’m finally finished with My Year of Living Biblically, by the way. Good book). We got to Venice in the early afternoon and checked into our hotel. I had gotten us a slightly better deal on a slightly better hotel by talking to the Chabad rabbi in town, but Seth discovered that if we were to cancel our reservation at the place he’d booked, we would have to pay a penalty, which made the rabbi’s deal actually financially prohibitive. So we’re not staying in the best place, but it’s a place, and it’s close to the Ghetto. There doesn’t actually seem to be that much to DO in Venice, which is a little surprising. We went for a quick walk on Friday, and then went to the local Shul for services. I knew that Venice was filled with canals, but I guess I thought that there were cars too. There aren’t. It’s really a crazy place. After Shul, we went to the Kosher restaurant Gam Gam for dinner. It is free on Shabbat, courtesy of Chabad and though they are PACKED, the food is good and the atmosphere is fun. The Chabad guys loved us because we (along with Judah and his group) sung a lot. They had their own take on the song Kol HaOlam Kulo – Kol Venetziah Kulo (The actual song says “The whole entire world is a very narrow bridge…” theirs goes “all of Venice is a bunch of tiny bridges [harbeh gsharim ktanim]”) – oh Chabad. After dinner we went back to the hotel and watched The Usual Suspects (which I found predictable) and then went to bed.
On Saturday morning, we woke up late and went straight back to Gam Gam for lunch. We had to wait about an hour and a half because they had no room for us (even though they knew we were coming). The food was good once we finally had it. After lunch we went back to the hotel and watched The Truman Show (which I enjoyed). After that, we went for a walk from our hotel to San Marco’s square which is really cool, in that it was both cool colloquially and literally freezing. Shabbat ended while we were out there and then we walked home. While I would love to take boats everywhere while in Venice, they want 6 Euro per ride (roughly $9), and Italy is just TEARING through my Payoneer card so we decided we could just walk stuff. We made it home from San Marco’s pretty frozen. After thawing in the hotel, we went out to dinner and then back to the hotel to hang out and watch Kung Fu Panda (a Seffi and Matan favorite).
This morning we woke up, had the wonderful hotel breakfast (I had Twining’s English Breakfast tea with one sugar and honey, my favorite) and then set out for the Murano Venetian glass factory. When we got to the dock for the boat ride to Murano Island, we found out that it was closed (which may or may not have actually been true). We hung around on the freezing dock for a while, and then headed home, stopping off to look at Venetian glass at several stores on the way. I had hoped to get souvenirs here, but to my eye the jewelry isn’t understated enough for the ladies in my life (Eemah and Navah), so I didn’t buy anything.
We had lunch on the way home and then watched Star Trek while we thawed. We’ve napped for a while and now it’s just about time for dinner and American football!
Talk to you soon,