I brought back the lurgy from Venice and other stories

Featuring tales of holidays, kind people, museums, and deadlines…. why are there are always deadlines?

It’s been almost a month since I posted here which is kinda weird considering how often I used to write but also to be expected considering the chaos that was last month. To give a very brief summary, and as you may be able to guess from the title, I managed to get ill quite literally the evening I got back from Venice and am only just about recovered. Did I mention that it’s the last week of semester this week? Finals with flu. Yeah, that’s been fun. So, as opposed to multiple detailed posts we’re doing another of my favourite style smush posts but, this time, with pictures (yay!) and subheadings because I recon it’s going to be a long ‘un!

So, we should probably start with Venice. It was an amazing trip. Truly.

Compulsory tourist shot.

I actually traded the week long Dutch summer for an overcast Italy so this was a major sacrifice, although it did warm up for the last couple of days, and still that city is quite magnificent. There are mazes of streets, so many bridges, beautiful churches. The other thing is – and it reminded me of Amsterdam in this sense – it’s painfully busy in the touristy areas but you can go just a couple of streets along and be alone. It’s a magical, magical place and you can kinda see why, if a film is set in Venice, it’s either a romance or a horror.

The majority of my time was spent wondering these streets getting between different churches and the odd museum which is why I actually didn’t take as many photos as one might have expected. Seriously, the museums I wasn’t too impressed by,  generally, but the churches… we all know I’m a religious art nerd and I was so very much in my element. We, naturally, went into the St. Mark’s Basilica and, when we went in, the doors to the basilica proper were closed so, instead of opening them, we, like sheep, followed each other up this uneven mountain of stairs. Anywho, this led up into the basilica’s museum, something I hadn’t really been too bothered with going round. After climbing those hellish stairs we were going round that museum whether we wanted to or not!! And, frankly, I would recommend it heartily, if only because you get to see the amazing mosaics up close. The song books were also a highlight for me. The other church that made a huge impression was Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. It’s a bit more out of the way but it’s worth making an effort to see. I wanted to go because the altarpiece is one of Titian’s and, to be honest, I was unaware of just how much art is in this building. It’s exquisite. There are also some rather impressive monuments that are quite striking, the most well known being a monument to the sculptor Canova.

Came out the church to be greeted by this – sat and watched for a while.
Couldn’t have planned it but what a perfect moment.

Other than churches, it’s got to be said, I ate quite a lot and also spent quite a lot of time sat outside restaurants having a drink and people watching. Both my mother and I really enjoy sitting down and watching the world go by. You learn so much that way.

I also ended up meeting up with quite a few people out there. Seriously, I had more of a social life in Venice than I do back home – what is this madness? It seems that half of my university had taken a trip to the city at the same time and also, against the odds, we bumped into each other on Murano one day. I was also lucky enough to meet up with the lovely Fietje for dinner which was delightful… although the food wasn’t the best and the waiter was, quite seriously, the most miserable soul I’ve ever come across. I tried so hard to make him smile but I failed in my attempts!

And the other person I met up with was Jacopo who quite literally turned up in the city on the first evening I arrived even though he couldn’t be sure I’d know he was there because I didn’t have internet. Luckily, I did pick up his message and, unluckily for him, he had to socialise with an extremely tired from traveling me! He was also so kind and saw us off at the airport. Highlight of meeting up with him, other than the fact he’s a lovely chap for sure, has to be that moment where he led us over a bridge that led to a block end accidentally and, in his annoyance/embarrassment/I don’t know, threw sat himself down on said bridge. And this is where the stereotypes about those southern Europeans come from, you know! Yep, I know he’ll read this and I am actively teasing him right now… should probably stop! But it’s so much fun!! Anyway, you can read his version of events over on his blog here, scroll down for English…. he’s probably been mean about me in the Italian part knowing I can’t read that 😉

With Jacopo on the first evening in the city, featuring tourists walking in sync

I am certainly going back to Venice in the not so distant future as there is so much I want to see there. I also want to go to a few of the other cities in the vicinity so it would be nice to book out a longer trip. Trying to talk Dania and Leonoor into going with me next year and, frankly, I don’t think they need much convincing. If only it wasn’t so expensive!

As a bit of an aside, I ended up having a paper on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice due just after my return so I did bits on it while I was out in Venice. I was writing, mainly, about the significance of rings in the text. I left my own ring in my hotel room. You have no idea how much struggle it was to get that ring back but seriously, I had to laugh about it!

So, as you may recall, upon my return, I was supposed to go to see the Bosch exhibition. Well, I got struck down with the flu and that was not going to happen so I missed out. I am seriously disappointed. However, there was some bright side in that the hotel I had booked for the night before due to having such an early slot at the museum cancelled the room without charging me despite my only being able to let them know on the day of arrival and them having a ‘no free cancellation policy’. And, actually, kindness was the theme of this fluey time. Thijs went and got me food and juice because I had literally nothing. Fatiya dropped me round readings I’d missed and was a complete gem as we were supposed to be preparing to lead a class together and I was messing her around so much. Other people sent me through notes without my asking them. People sent me messages asking how I was. I felt so loved. And physically a wreck but, y’know, like a loved wreck. So thank you people for looking after me ❤

I also had exams and papers due during that time and somehow managed to get them all in before the deadline. More surprisingly, those that have been graded actually have high marks – higher than usual despite the fact I was writing with a candyfloss brain. I genuinely would have expected to get lower grades considering I couldn’t study or think straight. What is this backwardness? Anyway, I now only have three roundtables (one of which is a paper defense – eep!) and then this semester is done and onto German. The less said about that the better. I’m so nervous I cannot put it into words.

However, the lightening of the work load has meant that I can socialise a bit more and that means my favourite thing: Museum exploration with Dania!

Sunday, we went to the Rijksmuseum to see their Catwalk exhibition which was closing that day. As the name may suggest, this was a fashion exhibition and we’d wanted to go for some time. I have to say, it was well worth getting up early for. There was a really nice range of pieces on display and, importantly, the curation was exceptional. My particular favourite was a room with a conveyor belt (think airport baggage collection just prettier) on which manikins wearing different costumes slowly rotated in a catwalk type fashion. There were chairs where you could sit and watch the ‘show’ and a book attached to each chair explaining the significance of each piece. There was a seriously snazzy pair of pyjamas made to look like an evening dress too… I might have got some ideas! The highlight of the exhibition was the widest mantua in the Netherlands (over two metres wide) and there was a cardboard cut out in the lobby so, you know…. Dania forced me 😉

I seem to be missing a neck….

And then today we caught the Spanish Master’s exhibition at The Hermitage. Again, we’d planned to see this one since before it opened and, again, we caught it just as it was closing (although it’s there until Sunday so if you get a moment then it’s worth popping to). I wasn’t so interested in this one because I’ve never really go that into a lot of the Spanish artists. That said, I’m really pleased I went. I actually saw a few paintings, and a few styles, that really did catch my eye and my imagination. Perhaps I need to do a bit more research into the area’s art history. The other thing that I really liked about this exhibition is the fact that it was set to music. As opposed to having information given over the audioguide you had a different song/tune play that was supposed to evoke the feelings of the pieces in that area. It made it a very special experience and I kinda want the CD (while I don’t think there is a CD you can listen to the music here)

Post exhibition selfie, as always!

While I’ve had a great time at both museums, I don’t think I’m going to go to any more for a while. I fell down stairs in the Rijksmuseum and broke the exit gate at the Hermitage. Am I clumsy, cursed, or is someone trying to tell me something? 😉

Okay, okay, procrastination over. I will get back to working on my stuff for the next two days. On the bright side, I’m definitely going to Keltfest – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!


One thought on “I brought back the lurgy from Venice and other stories

  1. Aha, so I am stereotypical, aren't I?
    Seriously though, I couldn't keep myself from laughing a lot while reading that part!
    (Btw, what's the point in teasing someone if that person can't understand I'm teasing her/him? 😉 )


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