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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Albania 6: Death In Venice

[NOTE: This blog/diary of Mykel's Italian-Albanian trip starts several entries below this one. Due to the oddities of Blogging, the entries appear in reverse order. As much of the reportage is built on the previous days, I recommend reading from the start, at the entry ALBANIA 1.]

ROME (Coldsore day 3)

  I start writing this in the train from Rome to Bari, that's tomorrow, as far as this narrative goes. Today was my day to explore Rome, recover a bit from the flight, meet the Romans. Yeah, right

  As I'm staying in a Bed and Breakfast in The Vatican, the day starts naturally with breakfast. Actually, it starts much earlier... 3AM, when my jet lag wakes me up and I play on the internet for some hours... mostly Facebooking my friends and uploading my diary. What else is there to do at 3AM in Vatican City. Jee-zus! Can you imagine?

  Well, maybe there is something. As I wandered the streets yesterday, I managed to run into a club that looked right up my alley:

But I forgot exactly where the place was... and with my coldsore, a lap dance is all I'm gonna get... and that's not enough for me. (My favorite activities all are impeded by lipwelts. Right Topher?)

About 6AM I fall back asleep and am awakened about 10:30 by a knock on the door.

Mykel,” I recognize the voice. It's the hippie hostess of my B&B. “You are telephone.”

It's Helen. Calling from Nice to check up on me. She booked the B&B and paid for it! She also bought my boat tickets. Yow! Wadda gal.

Did I wake you?” she asks.

I nod into the phone.

But it's 10:30!!” she says.

Jet lag.” I answer.

She asks about my day, and suggests I see a special church made from the bones of catholic monks. And also there's a statue, the ecstasy of Saint somebody-or-other.

You'll love that one,” she tells me. “It's supposed to be some divine ecstasy. but you'll see... she's just ecstasy.

Both those attractions are on the Via Veneto. It's a famous street, and even in my Pimsleur Italian lesson: Scuzi, dove via Veneto? But it's not on my map! At least it's not listed among the streets on my map. OK, I'll find it.

After breakfast I ask the hostess how to get to Rome from The Vatican.

“You bus numero sixty-four. Tutto e bus numbero sixty-four,” she says.

Since I have to go to the Vatican train station for a ticket to Bari anyway, I figure I'll get the bus from there. I buy the ticket and get on bus 64.

  It winds it's way past buildings and statues and churches and monuments older than I am. About 1900 years older. It is impressive... at first... but then it's... well... buildings and statues and churches and monuments... then more of the same.

As I contemplate this, the bus doors open and in walks a very fat man, about 40. Accompanying him is God. I wish I had the balls to whip it out right there... my camera, I mean. You could see what I'm talking about. About 18, he has a face that belongs on a bar of soap. Not a hint of a whisker. Longish, light brown hair, eyebrows a shade darker. Eyes the color of... well of heaven. My tastes usually don't run to blue eyes... or even white people in general, but this... This is Death In Venice. Death in Venice in Rome.

“Excuse me,” he could say. “Would you mind scooping out your right eye and throwing it at that old woman over there?”

“My right eye?” I'd answer, “you sure you only want that one?”

After him, what else is there to see? Who needs eyes?

There is a seat open next to me. The fat guy takes it. God sits 2 seats away. He won't look at me because of my coldsore.

I get off bus 64 at the Termini, the main train station. God gets off there too. As does everyone else on the bus. I lose him in the crowd.

So, I do the Coliseum. Just the outside. It's $20 to get in. That's almost the same as Graceland. I bet it's a fuck of a lot more than the Romans originally paid... and they got to see Christians thrown to the lions. Hell, I'd pay $20 to see Christians thrown to the lions, but not to look at the old stones where people sat 2000 years to look at Christians thrown to the lions.

After I circumnavigate the building (reminds me of walking around Yankee Stadium), I head for the subway. Before I buy the ticket, I ask the attractive, supremely unfriendly seller, “Scuzzi, dove via Veneto.”

Get off at...” and she tells me the name of the stop... and goes back to her conversation with her fellow tobaconnist/ticket agent. Must be my coldsore.

  I take the subway to the right place, get out. Then, I see the problem. Via Veneto is actually Via Victorio Veneto! There it is on my map, under Victorio... I shudda known right? Makes me wonder if some maps of NYC list Madison Avenue under JAMES.

I walk the length of the Avenue and see nothing but expensive restaurants. You know how the cheapest places have no table clothes? Next cheapest: red and white checked table clothes. Then finally, the white ones? Nuh uh! Tables on this street have BLACK table clothes. It's a month's salary just to sit down. Finding neither bones nor ecstasy, I take intrepid Bus Number 64 back to my B&B. Maybe he'll get on again. He doesn't.

  I take a nap, then go out for dinner. The same place where those attractive German girls ignored me last night. They aren't there this time. What are there are a bunch of American tourists. Shouting, making demands on the waitress, acting like Americans. It embarrasses me. After 15 minutes sitting their. yet more of them show up.

  “I see you found it,” shouts one guy, big as a cowboy, as he walks in. “You didn't take the bus, did you?”

  One of the guys already sitting at the table, gray beard, body like a bowling pin, answers, “Oh no,” he says. “I followed your advice. Took the train.”

“Good,” answers the first guy, “that Bus Number 64 is notorious. The locals call it The Pickpocket Express.”

  I finish eating, pay my bill and go back to the hotel to charge my phone and computer. I plug in the computer. A fuse blows and all the lights go out

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