I happened to know that European papers were prettier than US papers, so I decided to go Europe and convert a few of my ugly green papers into pretty lira and francs.
I considered going on a bike tour of New Zealand, but I decided that I had inadequate aerobic preparation for such an athletic endevour. Besides, I didn't know if NZ had pretty papers or not. (I ended up going on a bike tour of New Zealand later.)
"What sort of tunes?" she asked. "Oh, this and that..." and I set forth with the one song I had attained some mild proficiency with:
Italian men's hands are reputed to have great wanderlust, but my journey gave no proof of this thesis. In fact, I believe that were I travelling to comparable places in the US, and spent a similar amount of time on public transportation or afoot, that US males would have provoked much stronger feelings of disgust towards the Y chromosome. [To be fair, it should be noted that my hair was practically non-existant, Reuben would have never accepted me as a model, and if I didn't want to talk to someone I could become Finnish very quickly.]
However, I did meet a man in Venice. I was strolling about St. Mark's Square when a voice behind me said, "Didn't I see you in Florence on Saturday?" Upon turning, I discovered a Swedish air traffic controller named Lars. I don't know why he thought the emaciated, bald woman wearing a bright ski jacket, a black beret, and a purse shaped like a Queen Angelfish that he saw in Florence would have any relationship to the emaciated, bald woman wearing a bright ski jacket, a black beret, and a purse shaped like a Queen Angelfish that he saw a few days later in Venice.
I considered it. But after a few minutes of reflection, I sadly had to tell him no. You see, I had examined my pieces of paper that morning, and discovered that I had far fewer of them that I felt I should. Apparantly, my fiduciary restraint had been entirely lacking. This was highly troubling, as the trip was young yet, and I had been under the impression that I had been operating with great prudence. This unpleasant revelation, coupled with a an upcoming termination of my tenure at my hotel in Venice (i.e. a Canadian with a reservation) had caused me make a reservation at the cheapest possible location in the vicinity - at a place on The Lido called Cavallino - for the next day.
I supposed that I could cancel the reservation, but I badly wanted to see the outer islands of Venice and didn't have the foggiest notion what I might do in Nice when Lars left the day afterwards. Given the evidence of my reckless spending, I felt inadequately endowed with pieces of paper to dash off to Nice and then return right away to Venice. So I politely declined Lars' kind offer. He escorted me back to my hotel, we said our goodbyes, and I never saw him again.
At the ferry terminal, I pulled out various maps to get a sense of where I was going, and discovered that I was NOT going to where I thought I was going. It appears that "Lido" means "beach", and that I was not going to "Lido di Venezia", but to "Lido di Cavallino"... which was on the mainland. Considering myself capable of surmounting this minor change in plans, I continued onwards.
I took Ferry #42 to Punta Sabbioni, and there was Bus #5 waiting for me. So far, so good. But after riding for a while and seeing no placards indicating stops, my nerves began to waver. After more time, my nerves were positively bouncing. Finally, when I saw an awning with the sign HOTEL CAVALLINO BIANCO, I asked my bus-neigbors, "Scusi, siamo a Cavallino?" [Excuse me, are we in Cavallino?], and pointed at the hotel. "Eh? Cavallino? Ah, si, si, si, Cavallino.", and pointed to the awning. As I was descending, it became clear to me that they were utterly lacking in clue. (Italians are very friendly and very eager to help out. Unfortunately, they are not always correct.) But I felt I had no alternative, unless I wanted to ride the bus all day.
I was not in fact in Cavallino. The kindly man gardening told me that it was three or four kilometers down the road, and he unfortunately was correct. No problem. I've become buff and strong on this trip. I can walk that far hauling a duffelbag containing a week's worth of clothes, my boots, and at least six books, no problem. Yeah, RIGHT.
One slight hitch. I walked up and down Via Fausto (the main drag) far enough to see an utter lack of any Via Del Faro. I stopped and called the hotel. Unfortunately, Via Fausto has a LOT of traffic, the woman was mute in all but her native tongue, and was physiologically gifted with a mouth that could work faster than should be legal. I finally said, "Si, si, si, mille grazie" a few times and hung up.
I went into a bar.
"Scusi, sono perduta." / Excuse me, I am a lost woman.
"Eh?!?!?!" / WHAT?!?!?
"Non so dove sono." / I do not know where I am.
"Oh." / Where are you trying to go?
"Cerco Via Del Faro." / I am looking for Via Del Faro.
"Via Del Faro?" / Are you sure?
"Si, Via Del Faro." / Yes, Via Del Faro.
"Via Fausto e la." / You obviously are lacking in pronunciation skills.
"Nono, Via Del Faro." / I am certain that it is called Via Del Faro.
"Eh, Bruno! (unintelligible) / Hey, Bruno, is this chick on drugs, or is there a Via Del Faro around here somewhere?
AH! Via Del Faro! / Oh, THAT Via Del Faro!
Ecco. Cinquecento metri, a sinistra, due kilometri." / Look. Go back 500 meters, turn left, and go two kilometers.
Well, my guidebook didn't say ANYTHING about walking two kilometers, so I smiled and gave him a thousand thanks before walking on a little ways to ask someone else. The same conversation was repeated, except that this time I was told to go back 600 meters before walking two kilometers. I felt at this point it would be prudent to reverse my course for at least 600 meters, then take a left.... but surely it couldn't be two kilometers.
At the end of the afore-mentioned two kilometers, two things happened. The road ended, and it started to rain. I slipped into a marine supply store just before they closed up, and did my best to tell my tale of woe. The lady understood enough to ask me what the name of the hotel was, and when I replied, took me to the window and pointed to the hotel. I almost kissed her. Unfortunately, because of how the marina was laid out and where fences were, I had to backtrack about six blocks in the rain... which had renounced irresolution and was dumping water out of the sky at a fierce rate.
I sat down on my bed.
I was tired.
My quadriceps were so tired that individual muscle fibers had ceased taking orders from the central nervous system, and were instead firing at random whenever they pleased.
My calves were AWOL.
My back felt like I'd been doing a fireman's carry of a teenager for a week.
I was wet.
My beret was wet.
My pack was wet.
My jeans were wet.
My shoes were wet.
My shoes were wet.
What was that?
My shoes were wet.
My shoes with $400 in travellers' checks under the innersoles were wet.
My shoes with $400 in travellers' checks that I had forgotten about the day before when estimating my financial prudence were wet. I was not way over budget, I was way UNDER budget.
As I was sitting there cold, tired, hungry, and soaking wet, the only thing I could do was laugh at myself and say, "I hear Nice is wonderful this time of year...."