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A Magical Floating City

Libby Kiszner

For as long as I can remember, I’d dreamed about visiting Venice. Fabulously, dreams sometimes do come true

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

 Mishpacha image



ay One

At last, there we were. Stepping off the train, we didn’t know where to look first. It was all so dream-like. Straight ahead were pastel-colored cobblestone streets. Off to the side was the lagoon, humming with life, rather like the sound of giddy, yet muted laughter as it gurgled over and around boats of every color and size.

As a writer, the first thought that came to mind was, I think I’ve used the word “picturesque” too flippantly.” I felt like I’d walked into a painting. It was late afternoon, when the sun was not too strong, yet still warm, and enriching the shades of the soft-colored houses stretched out on either side of the canals. Looking about us with excitement and wonder, we made our way — suitcases bumping behind us — to the Jewish Ghetto.

Imagine coming into a city with no cars, buses, or motorcycles. Only water flowing peacefully at the sides of the cobblestone streets. Instead of waiting for traffic lights, you cross bridges under which water taxis nonchalantly pass by, alleyways and canals crisscrossing at every turn. Traveling around the good ol’ fashioned way, using our two feet, was a great way to explore wonderful little nooks and crannies and vintage bridges and buildings you only see by walking around.

At our hotel in the Jewish Ghetto, one of the first things we asked was how to get to the airport. We’d be leaving two days later, at 5 a.m. Not to worry, we were told, a taxi will get you there. It was only later that we discovered what kind of taxi the clerk had in mind — a water taxi. That would mean first schlepping all our luggage to a taxi station near the canal. (Fortunately, we found another route.)


As soon as we got to our room, my sister opened the windows and, eyes bright with curiosity, peeked outside. We were greeted by the dark green shutters bedecking the brick wall opposite our own, laundry on a line flapping in the breeze. Between us was water.

As we stood there taking in the sights, frolicking laughter reached our ears. What more, the words we heard were undeniably Yiddish. Some women from Brooklyn were timorously trying to board a waiting gondola, and their excitement mingled with nervousness reverberated along the brick walls.

“There’s another window,” my sister gently hinted. In my delight, I was blocking her from capturing the humorous moment with her camera.

Day Two

The next day, we woke bright and early to get to the bus stop (really the boat stop), but the tide was too high for the vaporetto (water bus) to stop there. No worries; we got to explore and get lost in the labyrinth of Venice’s many narrow alleyways, meandering our way to the edge of the city. It was such fun to walk from one part of the city to the next, to discover little shops, to watch people at the piazza (town square), and to just see where your steps lead you. It’s really quite a tiny place, filled with kiosks, fancy boutique stores, and souvenir shops all waiting for the many tourists searching for gifts to bring back home.

Then we were off to visit Murano and Burano, two islands in the Venetian Lagoon. We took line 4.2 from the Fondamente Nove stop. Inside the vaporetto, I seemed to be the only one snapping pictures. I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous panoramic view. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 698)

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