Eight hours, too much bad food and worse air later, she landed in Venice. She knew there was a water bus she could take to the city and walked the five hundred metres to the dock.
The Alilaguna blu from the airport to the Arsenale stop made a trip out to the Lido before swinging back to Venice. Sarah stood on the rail as the fabulous coastline grew larger. Even close it remained a fantasy, a fairy-tale, wedding-cake confection. A mist hung over the city. The image of a painting drifted into her mind. Venice from the Lagoon: Turner, impressionist before the Impressionists.
The bus knocked against the dock, pulling her back from 1840. She clambered ashore, grateful for the hand the guard gave her. The crowd rushed past her on the broad quay-side walk-way, called, she knew, a riva.
Turn right, the hotel instructions read, cross the bridge, and the hotel would be on the left.
A ramp rose up one side of the steps, an easier climb than the stairs after eight hours in a plane. From the top, she looked back. Venice lay before her. The crowds on the Riva thickened closer to Piazza San Marco, the white dome of Santa Maria della Salute gleamed in the distance, and the Campanile rose above the Basilica in the middle distance. She turned and headed down the ramp.
She passed a restaurant with tables set beside a narrow canal and turned into the hotel.
Hours later, Sarah woke. She stood at one of the two tall windows in her room, savouring the glimpse of the lagoon. She was here, in Venice, and she had to find one man among the millions that flooded into the city. The main pavilions for the Biennale were in the Public Gardens, a short walk down Via Giuseppe Garibaldi from her hotel. But then what? Wander, hoping to find him? Perhaps there was a central registration where she could leave a message for him? Perhaps the concierge would know.
But he didn't.
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