Monday, March 13, 2006

Venice Part Six

Just to prove this trip is not a holiday, we set off this morning to the Ecumenical Study Institute. to facilitate all our travel until we go home, we bought the 3-day tourist travel pass, which means we can hop on and off the riverbus at will (although the hopping off will only be done at the stops!). The journey to the Institute took forty minutes, taking us around most of the main island.

Being an island with no vehicles able to go past the car park on the landside edge of the city, everything you can think of that depends on vehicles is done by boat. Hence the funeral hearse boat we saw on Saturday. Today we saw the other necessities - police, ambulance, postman and DHL, all on their own boats. We even saw a coffin being moved, on a trolley rather similar to the ones used to transport televisions and fruit. The other main thing is that there's no bin lorry! Rubbish is collected by refuse collectors with trolleys, then transferred to barges along the sides of the canals.

So anyway, we arrived at the Institute, and were offered coffee. Once again, I had to refuse - I think people here think I'm a rather odd creature for not drinking coffee, and refusing alcohol all the time... We then had a short session with the principal, learning about the role of Venice through the centuries, and particularly the Byzantine influence. We then moved into another room where we met some of the Institutes's students. They come from around the world, including Germany, Ecuador, Congo and Tanzania, and there are Coptics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox and Catholics.

At lunch, we were divided out round the dining room, with two people at each table round the outsid eof the room. Thankfully, they made sure we were with people who could speak English. My dining partner was Iohannes, a Lutheran pastor from Tanzania. It was interesting to share with him our experiences, and learn a bit about the Lutheran church in Africa.

During the coffee time after the meal (a first course of pasta, which we thought was the meal... then chicken, potatoes and a huge variety of vegetables, then a choice of two desserts - apple crumble and a red fruit salad), Canon John, the Anglican from Tanzania gave us a tour of the college. His room was much larger than ours are in Dublin, then he showed us the vineyards (the Institute grows its own grapes and makes its own wine), poultry farm, boatshed, chapel, chapter room and church.

We then left the Institute, and split up for an afternoon of free time. So I went round by St Mark's Square (by-passing it as we're going there tomorrow), and browsed some of the shops on the way to Rialto and on towards the ghetto. Having the riverbus ticket, I headed down to the canal back to Rialto, and checked out the market stalls and shops. Then back on the riverbus to Accademie, where I wandered and checked emails, and chatted on msn to Lynsey!

After that, I was busting for the toilet, so used the pay loo under Accademie bridge. It was a scandalous rip-off of one euro admittance, but I felt it was worth is... staying longer than the time switch thought appropriate for a stay in the loo. Thankfully it came on again without any problem by flicking the switch again!

Having still some time free, I hopped onto a passing riverbus, and journeyed to the east, where I hadn't been yet. Tyhe sunset was rather good, and I hope I got some good photos of the red sky behind the towers and spires. then I transferred to one coming back the other way, except it decided to go round the back of Dursduro, but with my trusty map and sense of direction, I was able to find my way back to the convent - and probably with a shorter walk than the stop I intended to get off at!

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