The picturesque Canal and a flapping banner (4)
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(cont'd...) The beauty of Venice has been visually immortalized numerous times - as far as I've become aware of, in travel magazines, TV shows, and even from any delightful souvenirs everywhere. The evoking image of Grand Canal with the Salute Church as backdrop; gondolas gliding over the sparkling emerald water that mimics shiny gemstones spread across green turf on a sunny day, alternately sending off their reflections to one's overzealous eyes; the numerous poles sticking out and lined-up by the side of canal corralling patiently every overworked and idle docked gondola. Truly, they depict and represent the stunning uniqueness of the city of Venice that have spellbounded its visitors throughout the ages.
The Saint Mark Square, where we emerged from our last phase of strolling, faces Venice train terminal from a distance, separated only by the Grand Canal itself. Over here, there seemed to be no decline of people. A scene that ironically went in agreement with the settling late afternoon sun so hesitant to hide yet out in the horizon. It was a bit overcast and foggy, but the orangey hue of the sun's ray blanketing the whole expanse of the Square, the Canal, and train terminal defeated the rather gloomy afternoon atmosphere; it did not seem to matter anyway, since most of the oblivious crowd were busy clicking the shutter of their cameras to capture the frozen-in-time beauty of the place; we were one of them.
From Saint Mark Square's open plaza, we continued to lazily stroll along the Grand Canal. At one point we just sat really close to the waters and listened to the serene sound of miniscule waves - rippled and generated by each passing gondola, lapping and breaking off right before our feet against the concrete wall and affording us to watch with enjoyment thousands of white bubbles spritzing to our delight. Gazing out from our location, the emerging outline of Salute's dome-shaped roof and a series of apartments adjacent to it, was strikingly formed by the settling sun behind them. It reminded me of asymmetrical figures you would see peeking from a kaleidoscope, only this time, the outline was never-changing.
Although the breeze became colder at the onset of the early evening, that did not diminish the number of people wondering to and fro. I actually thought it was busier than it was during the daytime we were out. Heading back to my friend's place for dinner, we again followed those whimsical narrow alleyways trusting not on the street names or establishment numbers (as there were none), but depended wholly in any sort of specific point of interest we've remembered on the way out earlier that afternoon. The clear and starry evening sky, the ornamental minute blue and incandescent lightbulbs hanged overhead along and throughout each alleyway, and some occasional lonely brass lightposts did its duty to help us find our way back to the apartment.
Our conversation went on close to midnight, and soon afterwards we left the apartment as we had planned to catch a midnight train to Rome. Heading out in the now quiet alleyway and into Vaporreto station, me and the wife had the last glimpse of this ancient and surreal surroundings: the centuries-old Venetian apartments whose old-world dwellers once lived and listened to Marco Polo's adventure; the arched little bridges that connected each alley and helped thousands of wandering feet traverse the "water" city; the perennially magical meandering sub-canals whose romantic association with falsetto-voiced Gondoliers has never faded throughout the centuries; and the one that epitomizes all of Venice life and dreams, the Gondolas.
"Sleep now and rest," I muttered, "for tomorrow you are going to invite and capture once again the hearts of many - whose desire was to intimately glide with you along the canals, go under the majestic Rialto Bridge and those arched little bridges - transcending their most-favoured childhood dream into realisation!" At this time, only a little banner at the end of a post beside the Gondolas - being caress playfully by cold midnight breeze, was gently flapping as if bidding goodbye to us. I stopped momentarily, gave out a little smile, and in my mind, silently uttered words, "Thank you for the wonderful experience, until next time, my friend!" Meanwhile - my wife, I noticed, had started pulling my hand, urging me and said, "Come on, we've got to catch the midnight express train to Rome!" I then obliged without delay.