With Julien back in school and busy with life, I'll have to step in and try to remember the gist of his detour in Venice. To recap; after a frustrating day of tourist traps, bad timing, tempers flaring, and feet throbbing, we mellowed out over a mediocre meal in familiar territory.Stomachs full, camaraderie restored, we sat and waited for the bill. Considering that we were a 10 minute walk from the hotel, and in an area that we had been to frequently, I thought it would be a good opportunity for Julien to explore, and have a little independence. He had gotten pretty short with me earlier after I led us down some dead ends trying to find our way to the restaurant, so a little breather was in order. If he ended up taking a few wrong turns along the way, all the better. After giving him the hotel key I mentioned that if he should get lost, he could show the keycard to the polizia or a shop keep to get directions. Julien headed out, got his bearings, then set off towards the hotel. It would be three hours before I saw him again. From what I recall of his retelling, he made a right instead of a left just beyond the courtyard where we had dinner. He got caught up in the flow of people headed east and 20 minutes later he came upon the Rialto Bridge. We had passed the Rialto on our way back from our island hopping extravaganza, so he knew he had gone way out of his way. Even though he didn't have his bus pass on him, we hadn't been asked to show our tickets once, he jumped on the nearest bus thinking it would stop by our hotel eventually. Instead, he headed out to sea. The map below shows a few landmarks from the day. The green dots, A to B, show the route from Trattoria due Torri to Hotel Antiche Figure. The orange dot is the Rialto Bridge. The red A is where Julien's bus took him. The purple dots show where we traveled earlier in the day to see the glass and not eat the risotto.
You can imagine the sinking feeling Julien felt as the boat exited the mouth of the grand canal, and instead of turning to wrap around the island, it pointed straight out to open water. With the sun setting, and a 10 minute walk stretching into an hour, Julien stood the entire time, not wanting to settle in. His bus finally docked at the Lido, an island with grand hotels, private beaches, streets with cars, and modern stores and businesses for local residents. It was the end of the line, so he was forced to get off and wait for a return bus. For the first time, there was someone checking for tickets. Not expecting to use a bus, he had left his pass with me, but I kept his 20 euro in pocket change replenished for just such an emergency. He spoke to the transportation employee and explained what had happened, and she told him which ticket to buy and which bus to take back. After a short wait, he was back on the water pointed home.I'm a little foggy as to what came next, but I think he stood the whole way back, too. There might have been another stop involved, but at the end of the night his water bus pulled up near our hotel and he jumped off. A few minutes later he was walking into the room, cold, wild eyed, and exhausted. I was sooo relieved. I was also really proud of him. He kept his cool, and he figured it out. He got to experience one of the main charms of Venice, getting lost in a beautiful city, on his own at 15. Granted, it would have been nice to have been well rested, and equipped with a warm coat, but he pulled it off. Meanwhile, on my casual stroll back to the hotel, I passed these Italian boy scouts returning from an adventure of their own and snapped a pic. I thought it would make for a witty caption later, but now I see those different expressions on their faces at their arrival home; fatigue, joy, whatever-I-play-the-acoustic-guitar-get-off-me, why-is-that-tourist-taking-our-picture-he-must-be-some-kind-of-pedo, and I think at this moment, Julien was heading towards the unknown.
Fortunately it all worked out. High five Julien.Next up, our final day in Venice.